The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee was the 8th best-selling vehicle in the US last year and the best-selling luxury mid-size SUV with a complete make-over after entering its fifth generation with an optional third row, expanded vehicle and prolific premium offerings.
This year the three-row 2022 version adds more options and packages, like rear entertainment screens and new colors but doesn’t mess with the performance, elegant interior, technology functions or off-road capability. A new 4xe plug-in hybrid engine debuts for better mileage and efficiency.
Grand Cherokee had limited recalls last year for potential headlight and airbag malfunctions, since corrected for 2022 models. Grand Cherokee is the brand’s global flagship vehicle.
Monochromatic bright white paint covered our exterior with a black roof showing silver colored roof rails, high U-shaped wheel arches, iconic seven slat front grille above a rectangluar air dam, slanted windshield, two-row panoramic sunroof and 21-inch wheels wearing all-season tires on multi-spoke wheels. Snazzy and rugged looking!
Our test-drive was the 2021 Grand Cherokee L (expanded) Summit Reserve 4X4 V6 engine (there is a V8 option) with $5,140 in options for luxury cabin trim, technology upgrades like night vision with pedestrian/animal detection and 21-inch all-season tires.
Behind the wheel the ride was comfortable, on and off the road, with 10.9-inches ground clearance using an independent suspension outfitted with front and rear stabilizer bars. Steering was responsive for precise handing in any of five preset drive modes. We also had Quadra-Trac II, one of three off-road choices with a two-speed active transfer case, low-range gear, skid plates and 24 inches of water fording capability.
It was a pleasure to drive on or off-road. Kinks included a heads-up display not legible wearing sunglasses, thirsty gas tank and lane keep assist that did not keep the vehicle lane centered.
Access was easy (even third row) to a roomy and posh cabin with Tupelo brown Palermo leather perforated, stitched and heated in first and second row seats.
Door trim included soft quilted leather door trim, with deluxe headliner, Macintosh audio, open pore wood trim, massaging front seats and a 10.1-inch split view touchscreen easily reached and manipulatable via the highly praised UConnect infotainment system with knobs for audio control.
Behind the third row’s 17 cubic feet of cargo space, automatically dropping the seats expanded space to 47 cubic feet.
Visors are extendable; towing muscle 6,200 pounds.
At a Glance
LIKES: Luxurious cabin, cargo space, versatility, quiet, comfort, ride, handling, looks
DISLIKES: Poor mileage, no complimentary maintenance, options needed for top luxury.
BOTTOM LINE: Outstanding luxury and SUV performance but at a hefty price with options
Fact File: Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4×4
3.6-liter, V-6, DOHC VVT
290 hp at 6,400 rpm
257 ft-lbs. at 4,000 rpm
8-speed automatic/ manual paddles
18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy
23-gallon tank, regular
0-60 in just over 7 seconds
Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.