2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve Review

The Jeep Grand Cherokee L has Grand appeal.

By Kunal Dsouza Wheels.ca

Apr 8, 2022 6 min. read

Article was updated 2 years ago

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Disclaimer: We reviewed a 2021 model in 2022 since Jeep doesn’t currently have a 2022 Grand Cherokee L to test. The 2022 Grand Cherokee L adds a passenger display screen, two rear entertainment screens, and 3 new colours to its option list but is otherwise no different than what you see on this page. 

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has always been an easy vehicle to recommend and it seems to appeal to a larger audience than other SUVs in its price range.

It’s a versatile and durable rig with a large towing capacity, bonafide off-road chops, and optional V8 power. Add in the adventurous allure of the Jeep brand and you begin to understand why it’s so popular.

Redesigning something that already works well is a monumental task for engineers but they’ve done a good job with the new Grand Cherokee, available for the first time in an extended wheelbase version with three rows of seating for up to 7.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

That’s the version Jeep let me borrow for a week. A Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve in Velvet Red Pearl loaded with nearly every option including the V8. Checking that V8 box on the options list ($3495 on Overland and Summit models) nets you those two additional cylinders but maybe more importantly, that wonderful warm resonance under power that only a V8 seems to bring. You also get a 3266 kg towing capacity when properly equipped, a figure that nothing else in the class can even touch.

The familiar 5.7-L Hemi V8 makes a turbo-free 357 hp and can snuff out four of its cylinders under light loads for better efficiency. It’s matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via Jeep’s Quadra-Drive 2 system. That’s the most advanced four-wheel drive system they offer and it combines a two-speed transfer case with an electronic limited slip differential on the rear axle.

This Summit Reserve model was further equipped with Quadra-lift, Jeep speak for air suspension which can raise the Grand Cherokee up by 60 mm in the “Off-road 2” setting. It’s now also equipped with adaptive dampers for greater stability and enhanced control.

If you don’t check the V8 box, the base motor is the also familiar and excellent Pentastar V6 that will still tow up to 6200 lbs.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

Those are the greasy bits, but what you’re really going to care about is the inside and it’s nothing short of a complete transformation over the last model’s rather more utilitarian digs. You’ll find sumptuous leather, intermingling with open pore wood trim and metal. The knobs and switches feel expensive and there’s so much tech, it will take you more than week to get familiar with it all. Luckily I drove the Grand Cherokee’s larger brother, the Grand Wagoneer, which gets a similar treatment inside so I knew my way around.

The Grand Cherokee has seemingly moved even more upmarket for this generation and its luxurious digs really drive this home. The price does as well, with my tester not far off the $90,000 mark, a substantial amount that puts this in the same territory as the BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE. If you think that’s a lot you probably shouldn’t look up the Grand Wagoneer. To be fair, if you leave some of the toys on the table and don’t go for this top-spec Summit Reserve trim, you’ll walk out with a much smaller hole in your pocket.

But toys are nice to have, and the night vision system was impressive, not just because it was so well integrated and easy to use but because it quickly spotted and highlighted pedestrians and cyclists on dark residential streets well before I could see them. The new digital rear view camera was pin sharp and had an integrated washer to keep it clean. It was a very welcome option on this long three-row vehicle. The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster was also highly customizable and configurable to display as little or as much as you want. Uconnect 5 is a big improvement over its predecessor and adds over-the-air updates thanks to its Android-based operating system.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

A dizzying amount of helpers and nannies are baked in too, like adaptive cruise, active lane management drowsy driver detection, emergency braking, and innovative ones like intersection collision assist.

My tester came with coddling 12-way heated and ventilated seats with built-in massage that I used quite a bit. Jeep mercifully added real physical buttons to control high traffic items like the climate control and stereo including separate buttons for heating and cooling your seats, a nice add that was absent in the last one. Not as nice is the decision to coat the entire console in shiny piano black that only looks good for about 30 seconds after you clean it. At all other times it’s a dust and finger grease magnet.

The second row seats are also heated and cooled and are just as comfortable as the front. They can be quickly tilted away allowing easy access the to the power folding third row. I found the rearmost row less roomy than the Kia Telluride and Ford Explorer but less confining than the bench in the Toyota Highlander.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

I wasn’t in love with the 19-speaker McIntosh stereo upgrade, impressive looking as its speaker grilles were. It lacked the warmth that I look for in a premium system..

The Grand Cherokee L is a very satisfying vehicle to drive, especially with the Hemi. It provides that feeling of lazy and endless torque with a healthy burble subtly permeating the cabin.

A wider track provides a stable highway ride and despite its length, it was easy to drive on narrow city streets but felt more at home on the wide tarmac of suburbia. Slightly overboosted steering brings little feel but works with the luxury-first demeanour of this Grand Cherokee. The ride with the air suspension was cushy and body movement was kept well in check.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

I didn’t set out to prove that a Grand Cherokee L can climb a small mountain but most people who buy one, likely won’t either. To be fair only specially-equipped Overland models earn the famous Trail-rated badge with its bevy of underbody skid plates but you can be reassured that every Grand Cherokee will negotiate a rocky path or a backcountry trail with minimal effort, a claim others in this segment cannot make.

The Selec-Terrain management, accessed through a small dial on the console, can cycle between Sport, Rock, Sand, Mud/Snow or be left in Auto mode to sort it out without your input. For the most part you can just point the Grand Cherokee where you want it to go and it will come out on the other side shiny side up every single time.

Where the new Wagoneer—as impressive as that body-on-frame big rig is—can feel a bit gargantuan, the Grand Cherokee feels just right. It doesn’t have the same third row space, but for kids it will be more than fine. Jeep redesigned the Grand Cherokee but didn’t forget what has always made them a hit with shoppers—versatility and a premium feel. In that respect the Grand Cherokee is an even better buy than it was before.

The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4X4

BODY STYLE: 5-door,  6-7 passenger mid-size crossover

CONFIGURATION: -Front-engine, All-wheel drive

ENGINE:  5.7-L V8 ; Power: 357 hp @ 6800 rpm; Torque: 390 lb-ft @ 4250

TRANSMISSION : 8-speed dual-automatic

CARGO CAPACITY: 487-2396 litres

FUEL ECONOMY : (Premium-grade Gasoline in L/100 km): 16.7 city; 10.9 highway; 14.1 combined

PRICE: $73,745 (Summit Reserve); $ 86, 765 (as tested)

 Website: Jeep Canada







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