We don’t really know if the ‘L’ in the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee L means “long” or “lengthy.” But given the fact that this SUV has third-row seating for the first time in its history, perhaps we can assume that it needed to be a little longer than the two-row version (which will be launched later this year). And with that, let’s see if Jeep got the three-row formula right.
Jeep claims that the exterior of the Grand Cherokee L was heavily inspired by the Wagoneer, the carmaker’s first full-size luxury SUV. That’s probably true since the former doesn’t have a heavily raked windscreen or swooping bodywork creases on it. The profile is quite upright and boxy, which translates into cabin space and is practically what one wants in a vehicle meant to carry a bunch of screaming children. The front fascia has Jeep’s signature seven-slot grille flanked by slim headlamp clusters. Brightwork is quite subtle, with the trim pieces thankfully not shiny enough to blind people. The discreet theme is passed on to the wheel arches that complement the stylish 21-inch alloy wheels.
Because Jeep’s parent company is part-Italian, the interior gets proper European influences. The seats are trimmed in quilted Palermo leather, and the bolsters somehow suggest that the Grand Cherokee L isn’t the cushy pillow on wheels like the American luxury cars of yore. Materials in the cabin vary from wood accent to gloss-black plastics, which are all mixed tastefully to somehow soothe the senses of those onboard.
Speaking about soothing the senses, Jeep proudly claims that it is the only automaker in the world to spec its vehicles with McIntosh audio. The high-performance sound system has no fewer than 19 speakers and 950W of power—definitely no problem for the country western tunes played from the Uconnect 5 entertainment system and its 10.5-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Grand Cherokee L comes with a choice of two engines. Equipped as standard is the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 good for 290hp and 348Nm. If that’s not enough oomph, customers can go for a 5.7-liter V8 with 357hp and a beefy 529Nm. Worth noting in that motor is its cylinder-deactivation technology and a towing capacity of 3,266kg. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Because no Jeep is a proper Jeep if it can’t go off-road, the Grand Cherokee L comes fully equipped with trail-ready tech that all starts with the name Quadra. Depending on the customer specification, this SUV can come with either one of three different types of four-wheel drive systems. Quadra-Trac I is the most basic, while Quadra-Trac II adds a low-range transfer box. Quadra-Drive II is the most capable with an electronic rear limited-slip differential thrown in.
There is also Quadra-Lift, which is the Grand Cherokee L’s adjustable air-suspension system. It can either automatically adapt to prevailing terrain conditions or be controlled manually by the driver. It can lift the car by as much as 60mm. Also configurable is the Selec-Terrain traction control system. Aside from thankfully not being named Quadra, its five modes intelligently control various bits of the vehicle such as torque split, braking, throttle response, shift patterns, and ABS behavior and match them to whatever terrain setting the system is in.
So that’s the Jeep Grand Cherokee L. It’s about time that the automaker gave its family hauler a redesign and third-row seats, with the latter being all the rage these days when it comes to off-roaders. With the slew of changes and improvements in this all-new model, it looks like the most awarded SUV ever (as Jeep claims) will get even more accolades in the future.