- Great powertrains
- Iconic looks
- Superlative comfort
- Supreme off-road capability
- Expensive in top trims
- Thirsty V-8 engines
- No hybrids
- Spotty crash-test scores
features & specs
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is an icon for its capability and customization.
For 2021, Jeep made two distinct Grand Cherokees. The venerable Jeep Grand Cherokee takes a victory lap this year, pretty much changed from last year’s version, and that’s a good thing. The big news is the debut of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L three-row crossover SUV on a distinct platform from the Jeep Grand Cherokee. We review them both here.
What kind of car is the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L? What does it compare to?
The Grand Cherokee L is a three-row mid-size SUV designed and sized to compete with other three-row SUVs such as the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Ford Explorer.
Is the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L a good car?
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L fills a large hole in the Jeep lineup as its only three-row SUV. Though the features look promising and Jeep asserts it will have off-road capability, we’ll have to drive it first before rendering judgment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is not a stretched version of the two-row Grand Cherokee. Unlike the forthcoming Wagoneer that rides on a Ram 1500 platform, the Grand Cherokee L instead uses a unibody platform with independent front and rear suspensions.
Though what’s under the skin is different, the Grand Cherokee L bears a strong stylistic resemblance to the timeless Grand Cherokee. The Grand Cherokee L looks fantastic with a strong, upright stance and the right amount of ruggedness for an SUV. Jeep’s familiar seven-slot grille leads the way, though in this application it’s pitched slightly forward to add some length to the hood and keep the Grand Cherokee L’s proportions balanced.
At launch, two engines will be offered in the L: a 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 comes standard, while a 357-hp 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 is optional for all trims except the base Laredo. Both engines pair to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive comes standard in three available systems, with the most robust system optional on Overland and standard on Summit models. The Grand Cherokee L features a front-axle disconnect system that sends power to the front only when the situation calls for it to improve fuel economy. MPG estimates are not yet available as of this writing.
Both Overland and Summit models come with a standard air suspension system with five different height settings, ranging from 6.5-inches when parked for easier ingress/egress to 10.9-inches while off-roading to maximize approach, departure, and breakover angles (30.1/23.6/22.6 degrees). Those numbers don’t quite match what the shorter Grand Cherokee can offer.
Though it doesn’t have the Wagoneer’s quad screen setup, the Grand Cherokee L features a standard 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster and an 8.4-inch or 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen. The Android-based UConnect 5 system powers both screens and the Grand Cherokee L comes with standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and the ability for over-the-air updates. There’s no excuse for anyone to run out of power either, with 12 total USB-A and USB-C charge ports spread throughout the cabin. A 10-inch head-up display is available, as is a rear in-vehicle camera system that displays a top-down view of the backseat area to check in on rambunctious third-seat passengers.
The interior has 17.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third-row, which expands to 46.9 cubic feet with the third-row lowered and 84.6 cubic feet with both rows down. That's about one cubic foot less than in the Ford Explorer. The Grand Cherokee L’s third-row legroom is even tighter; at 30.3 inches, it’s nearly two inches shorter than the Explorer and its cramped third row.
Thankfully, the Grand Cherokee L’s standard safety features list has expanded widely over previous Jeep vehicles. All-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and rear parking sensors all come standard. A night vision and surround-view camera system, digital rearview mirror, and parking assist are optional. The most innovative safety feature, a hands-free highway driving system, will be available for the 2022 model year that arrives later in 2021.
How much does the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L cost?
Pricing information will be available this summer when the Grand Cherokee L goes on sale.
Where is the Jeep Grand Cherokee L made?
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L will be made in Detroit, alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.
What kind of car is the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee? What does it compare to?
The Grand Cherokee is a five-seat crossover SUV. Its main rivals are the Ford Explorer, Honda Passport, Kia Telluride, and Dodge Durango.
Is the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee a good car?
We give the Grand Cherokee a 6.5 TCC Rating thanks to superlative comfort and capability, iconic style and good features. Safety scores and gas mileage are a drag, though.
What's new for the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Like last year, the Grand Cherokee is available in Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk trims. Laredo versions will start around $35,000 for rear-wheel drive and a V-6; fire-breathing Trackhawks tempt six figures, which is a silly price for silly speed.
The turbodiesel’s a distant memory by now, but the four gas engines more than make up the difference. Every Grand Cherokee without an SRT badge starts life with a 295-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 that’s refined and smooth. All Grand Cherokees lean on a great 8-speed automatic transmission for shifting detail—it’s more than up to the task. A 5.7-liter V-8 makes 360 hp and tows a little more but it’s there for traditional V-8 power, mostly. Untraditional V-8 power is there, if you’re into that: A 6.4-liter V-8 spins out 475 hp, or a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 runs the table with 707 hp. Four-wheel drive is more common, and standard on performance versions.
Every Grand Cherokee comfortably holds up to five adults with plenty of space in the back for gear. For families looking for three rows: consider the three-row Dodge Durango that’s mechanically related or just wait longer: a three-row Jeep may be in the mail soon.
Crash-test scores are a mixed bag, but standard automatic emergency braking is available on most models or standard.
How much is the Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Base versions start at more than $35,000. Every Jeep gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 18-inch wheels, and cloth upholstery. Top trims upgrade to an 8.4-inch touchscreen, up to 20-inch wheels, performance upgrades, off-road gear, and leather.
Where is the Jeep Grand Cherokee made?
The Grand Cherokee is assembled in Detroit, Michigan.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jane Fonda have aged very well.
Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee a good-looking car?
Some things don’t get old: Hawaiian rolls in our pantry and Jeep Grand Cherokees in our garage.
Its shape and age haven’t gotten stale in a decade; the Jeep we mean. It’s an 8.
The same shape dates back to 2011, its cues even longer. All the Jeep hallmarks are there: seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel arches, tall ride height. Jeep dresses up or down the trims for good reasons: SRT models puff out their chests with wide fenders, bellowing exhausts, flared nostrils; Trailhawks boast blacked-out hoods for low reflection on the trails, and red tow hooks; Summits slather chrome and wood.
Inside, the Grand Cherokee has aged, but Jeep keeps pace with rivals with big touchscreen tech and soft materials.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Unmatched powertrains and capability define the Grand Cherokee.
Parked at the crossroads of off-road and race day, the Jeep Grand Cherokee covers ground like few crossovers or SUVs can.
There’s not a bad pick among its long list of available engines, and we land at a 7 for its comfortable ride and supreme off-roadability.
How fast is the Jeep Grand Cherokee?
The base engine, and more popular among buyers, is a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 295 hp mated to an 8-speed automatic and rear- or all-wheel drive. The V-6 is standard on all Grand Cherokees except SRT and Trackhawk versions, which get hot V-8s and plenty more kick.
Optional on Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, and Summit versions is a 5.7-liter V-8 that makes 360 hp and standard four-wheel drive. Same as the V-6, it’s paired to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic, but its best trick is better towing capacity versus the V-6: 7,200 pounds vs. 6,200 pounds, when properly equipped.
The last two V-8s, a 6.4-liter or 6.2-liter supercharged version on SRT and Trackhawk models respectively, take the Grand Cherokee out of the woods and toward the horizon—quickly.
The 6.4-liter V-8 is pulled from the Dodge Charger and Challenger and it makes 475 hp. It slingshots the big Jeep up to 60 mph in less than five seconds thanks to four-wheel-drive traction, and it would be hilariously overpowered if it weren’t for what’s next.
The Grand Cherokee’s 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V-8 is 707 hp of fury and blasts the 2.5-ton SUV to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It gets worse gas mileage than you can imagine, something we’re sure buyers willing to shell out nearly $100,000 for a Grand Cherokee couldn’t care less about.
Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee four-wheel drive?
Back here in the real world, every Jeep without an SRT badge offers superior off-road capability.
There are four different four-wheel-drive systems available, each suited for budget or needs.
The base four-wheel-drive system available on Laredo models only, Quadra-Trac I, splits power 50/50 front to rear, but doesn’t offer low-range gears.
Quadra-Trac II does. It’s optional on Laredo and standard on every other version, except SRT models. It includes a low-range gearbox and hill-descent control for trickier grades.
The step-up Quadra-Drive II system is standard on Trailhawk, and Summit models equipped with a V-8, and adds an electronically controlled limited slip differential at the rear for better traction. Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II include driver-selectable traction modes that include Sand, Mud, Snow, Rock, and Auto modes, depending on the terrain.
An air suspension is included on models equipped with Quadra-Drive II that can raise or lower the Jeep for up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance, or down low for better fuel economy.
The last four-wheel-drive system is included on SRT Grand Cherokees and is geared for best performance, not off-road traction. It’s paired to adaptive dampers to put their prolific power to the ground.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Comfort & Quality
Intentionally, or unintentionally, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the most comfortable SUVs on the road.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee was a home run for Jeep the minute it rolled onto dealers’ lots. Nearly 30 years later, it’s one of Jeep’s best-sellers due to its superlative comfort.
It easily carries five adults in the first two rows with ample cargo space in the rear. Base trims aren’t especially impressive inside, but luxury models go the distance against much pricier rivals. It’s a 9 for comfort.
Driver and front passenger get supportive buckets that get deeper and grippier in performance models.
Rear seat riders get more than 38 inches of leg room in seats that can recline up to 12 degrees for long-haul comfort. We wouldn’t blink at sitting in the back of a Grand Cherokee for long, boring stretches of Wyoming highway.
Behind the second row is 36.3 cubic feet of room for cargo, which expands to 63 cubic feet with the seats folded down.
Laredo models are OK with cloth, but Limited and higher models offer soft leathers, excellent synthetic suede, soft-touch materials, and luxury appointments that are hardly expected from Jeep.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Mixed crash-test scores let the Grand Cherokee down.
How safe is the Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Mixed safety scores from federal and independent testers wash the 2021 Grand Cherokee’s rating here. Federal testers gave four-wheel-drive versions a five-star overall score but noted four stars for front crash and rollover safety. (Rear-drive versions were scored lower, mostly due to weight and the way final scores are calculated.)
The IIHS isn’t as kind. It rated driver-side small overlap crash protection as “Marginal” and passenger-side protection as “Poor.” It also rated the Grand Cherokee’s headlights as “Acceptable” or “Poor,” but the news isn’t all bad: every other crash test earned a “Good” rating and its optional active safety features earned a “Superior” rating at avoiding forward crashes at 12 and 25 mph.
Automatic emergency braking is optional on Limited, Trailhawk, and Overland models, standard on Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk models, and not available at all on base Laredo models.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Every Grand Cherokee is well-equipped, but active safety features are left off the list for many of the SUVs.
Jeep sticks the landing on its Grand Cherokee thanks to plentiful trim levels and a good infotainment system on all models. That’s good for a 7 here, even from the German judge.
How much is a 2021 Grand Cherokee?
Like last year, Jeep offers the Grand Cherokee in Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk trims. Grand Cherokee Laredo models start at more than $35,000 and fully loaded Trackhawks run the score to six figures. It’s a silly price, and an equally silly SUV.
Back down in reality, the base Grand Cherokee Laredo gets 18-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, two USB chargers, a 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and blind-spot monitors.
We’d step up to the Grand Cherokee Limited, which upgrades to an 8.4-inch touchscreen, power liftgate, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, and more available options including active safety equipment such as automatic emergency braking. Tougher four-wheel-drive systems, 20-inch wheels, a 5.7-liter V-8, and premium audio are all available too, which makes the Limited trim level the Swiss Army Grand Cherokee.
Trailhawk models steer toward off-road hardware and tougher looks; Overland and Summit aim for the finer side of life(styles) with 20-inch wheels and nappa leather.
How much is a fully loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee?
SRT and Trackhawk models are muscle-bound Jeeps that punish tarmac—not trails. With superlative power (and thirst) those models add big brakes, big flares, and big exhausts for bigger personalities. The top Trackhawk costs about $90,000.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Fuel economy ranges from OK to LOL.
Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee good on gas?
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s fuel-economy tale is long, and the ending is fairly predictable.
Four-wheel-drive Grand Cherokees with a V-6 are more popular, and they’re mid-pack among rivals. The EPA rates those versions at 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined. That’s a 4 on our scale.
Opting for rear-wheel drive doesn’t improve those numbers much: 19/26/21 mpg.
The gateway 5.7-liter V-8 is rated at 14/22/17 mpg on mid-grade gasoline. The 6.4-liter V-8 fares worse at 13/19/15 mpg. The 6.2-liter supercharged V-8’s swole muscles swill the pricey stuff: 11/17/13 mpg.