First Drive: New 3-Row 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Is Sized for a Growing Family

Supersized version won’t disappoint fans of the brand, even though it appears to lag behind leading SUVs

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

Update: Since this first drive was originally published in August, 2021, we finished testing the Jeep Grand Cherokee L.
See the complete Jeep Grand Cherokee L road test.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is in the middle of its first major update in 10 years. Although the SUV has gotten visual updates inside and out, the biggest change is the addition of a three-row model called the Grand Cherokee L.

It might look different from the outgoing model, but the 2021 carries over the same two engine choices—a V6 and a V8. The only available transmission is also a carryover—the same eight-speed automatic available in the 2020 model. Rear-wheel drive is standard; four-wheel drive is optional.

The 2021 Grand Cherokee L went on sale before the standard two-row, five-seat Grand Cherokee (the five-seater will arrive as a 2022 model), and it’s a sign of just how important the new SUV is to the automaker. Car buyers are increasingly choosing larger and larger vehicles, but Jeep hasn’t had a three-row SUV since the departure of the unloved Commander in 2010. That absence has put the SUV-centric brand at a disadvantage. Across the entire lineup of Jeep’s parent company, Stellantis, only the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager minivans and the Dodge Durango SUV offer seating for more than five. In the meantime, newcomers such as the Kia Telluride and Subaru Ascent have stolen away would-be Jeep buyers.

We bought a Grand Cherokee L Limited equipped with four-wheel drive and a V6. As we do with all vehicles we test, we logged 2,000 break-in miles on it to make sure it has no major issues before we putting it through more than 50 tests at the CR Auto Test Center, including those that evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, child car seat fit, and controls.

If you haven’t signed up yet, click below and become a member to access this full article and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and home appliances.

See the complete Jeep Grand Cherokee L road test.

What we purchased: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited 4x4
Powertrain: 290-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine; eight-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive
MSRP: $45,995
Options: Trailer-tow package (trailer hitch, automatic headlight leveling, rear load-leveling suspension, full-sized spare tire, Class IV receiver hitch and wiring harnesses), $995; Luxury Tech Group II (leather seats, surround-view camera, front and rear park assist, rain-sensitive wipers, power steering wheel tilt/telescope), $2,295; UConnect infotainment with 10.1-inch display and GPS navigation, nine-speaker sound system with subwoofers, $995; dual-pane sunroof, $1,795; 20-inch wheels, $1,495
Total options: $7,575
Destination fee: $1,695
Total cost: $55,265

Become a member to read the full article and get access to digital ratings.

We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.