The latest 4×4 is designed to up the ante in both size and performance.
FCA’s Jeep Brand has revealed its latest challenger in the full-size SUV segment, the 2021 Grand Cherokee L. Boasting three-row seating and a whole host of technological innovations, as well as proven 4X4 capability, it’s designed to lock horns with the likes of Ford’s redesigned Explorer and Chevy’s Traverse, as well as larger, body-on-frame SUVs such as the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe.
Riding atop an all-new vehicle architecture, the new Grand Cherokee L is significantly larger than the outgoing model with a 6.9-inch longer wheelbase and 36mm wider track. Featuring a fully independent multi-link suspension, with an optional air-ride, it comes with a choice of either 290 hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 or 357 hp 5.7-litre HEMI V8 engines teamed with an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. A plug-in hybrid powertrain option is expected to be announced later this year.
Four trim levels
The new Grand Cherokee L comes in four different trim levels (Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit), with a choice of three 4×4 systems (Quadra-Trac I and II, plus Quadradrive), and an enhanced version of Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction management system with five different modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, and Mud/Sand).
Combined with an improved version of the optional Quadra-Lift air-suspension with offers five different right height settings (including up to a current class-setting 10.9-inches of ground clearance for rough terrain and water fording), the Grand Cherokee L is designed to further build on the legacy of Jeep’s go-anywhere capability.
The air suspension is designed to raise and lower faster than before while optimizing the Grand Cherokee L’s handling and off-road prowess, as well as improving vehicle ingress/egress.
As a nod toward improved fuel economy and better handling/driving dynamics, the Cherokee L rides on a new unibody structure, which besides using high-strength aluminum for components such as the hood and rear liftgate, solid aluminum front cradle, aluminum engine mounts, shock towers and steering assembly, as well as magnesium motor mounts and high strength steel used for 60 percent of the overall structure.
According to FCA, the styling of the 2021 Grand Cherokee L was influenced by the original Wagoneer from the 1960s and you’ll find a subtle homage in the shape of the hood and forward tipped grille, flanked by slim LED headlights.
Considerable attention was placed on interior craftsmanship and utility—the instrument panel, for example, is designed to convey both space and comfort, seamlessly integrating technology into an aesthetically pleasing cabin. A fully digital instrument cluster offers two-dozen different menu choices and the ability to select a variety of ambient lighting. A redesigned center stack was conceived to improve driver access and features a. new 10.1 -inch display for the Uconnect 5 infotainment system.
Probably some of the biggest news concerns the three-row seating, better second-row seat access (thanks to larger rear doors), greater cargo volume behind the second-row seat (46.9 cu ft.) and a whopping 84.6 cu ft. when both the second and third-row seats are folded down—creating a flat load floor.
The second-row features tip and slide bucket seats, that are designed to be easily moved to promote third-row access. The third-row bench is also power-folding for added convenience.
New technology features
You can’t escape the onward march of technology in the vehicle these days and the Grand Cherokee L has no shortage of it.
An Active Driving Assist feature (FCA’s term for Level-2 autonomy) is offered on the Overland trim level and standard on Summit models. It uses multiple cameras, sensors and radars to provide lane-centring with the vehicle’s adaptive cruise control‑enabling the driver to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
In 2022, FCA has said it will introduce a Hands-Free Driving Assist feature that will offer hands-free driving at all speeds as well as lane centring on the approved road. It will also be able to predictively slow the vehicle when negotiating tighter curves and resume control once the driver overrides and can demonstrate they are paying attention to the road ahead.
Overland and Summit models can also be equipped with a Night Vision camera designed to augment the power of the Grand Cherokee L’s headlamp illumination which will provide additional benefits while driving at night in both urban and rural settings.
Other technology features include a first for Jeep digital rear-view mirror that projects video from the rear-facing camera in real-time to enhance rearward visibility as well as a first-in-class head-up Display for the windshield that provides key vehicle information directly in the driver’s line of sight.
There’s also an available rear-seat monitoring camera, a premium McIntosh Sound system and an upgraded Uconnect 5 system that includes, among other things: Five user profiles plus a valet mode, customizable music preferences, apps, seat position, mirror angles and climate comfort levels; plus Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions; a fully customizable home screen for quick access to frequently used features and one-touch operation, plus simultaneous connectivity for two Bluetooth-enabled phones. There’s also “Home to Car” and “Car to Home” functionality with in-vehicle Alexa virtual assistant, plus a new-new Uconnect mobile app.
Additional infotainment tech features include the SiriusXM 360L platform and new Personalized Stations Powered by Pandora as well as TomTom navigation with predictive search, natural speak and live traffic updates, plus Map OTA updates at the push of a button for the Uconnect NAV system. There’s also an onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that allows occupants in the Grand Cherokee L to plug in up to eight wireless devices.
The 2021 Grand Cherokee L is being assembled at FCA’s new Detroit Assembly Complex Mack Plant which represents the city’s first new vehicle assembly facility in three decades. It goes on sale in Spring 2021.