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  5. 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo Test Drive

 
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been around for almost 30 years now and in that time, Jeep says that it has become the most awarded SUV of all time. As many innovations as the Grand Cherokee has offered over the years, one thing that has eluded this mid-size SUV is a three-row model, but that has finally changed with the introduction of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L marking the first Jeep to offer three rows of seating since the short-lived Jeep Commander. In fact, after 11 years since its last three-row model, Jeep is making up for lost time by offering the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L and the full-size 2022 Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer.

Positioned in one of the hottest SUV segments, the Grand Cherokee L goes up against three-row SUVs like the Volkswagen Atlas, Hyundai Palisade, Chevrolet Traverse and even Chrysler's own Dodge Durango. To see how the Grand Cherokee L stacks up against the other family-friendly SUVs, I put this Jeep through its paces in the most fitting way possible--a family road trip!


2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo Exterior

 
The first thing I noticed about the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is how much larger it is than past Grand Cherokees. Measuring in at 204.9 inches long, the Grand Cherokee L is 15.1 inches longer than the two-row 2021 Grand Cherokee, and its 121.7-inch wheelbase is actually longer - almost an inch - than the Chevrolet Tahoe! The downside of this added length is that compared to the standard Grand Cherokee, the Grand Cherokee L has longer front and rear overhangs and worse approach and departure angles, although ground clearance is comparable. 

In terms of styling, the Grand Cherokee L looks like a scaled-down version of the Wagoneer with its wide stance, thin LED headlights and taillights and, of course, the more upright front end with Jeep's signature seven-slot grille. The Laredo trim level comes with 18-inch aluminum wheels and black plastic cladding around the wheel openings and on the rocker panels, and this tester was finished in the premium ($395) Velvet Red Pearl paint 
job. 


2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo Interior

 
Aside from being the first new Grand Cherokee since 2010, the obvious highlight about the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is the two-person, 50/50 split third-row seat. While the front two rows deliver the same level of comfort expected from the Grand Cherokee, the third row is a roomier than other mid-size three-row SUVs with plenty of room for adults to sit comfortably. The Grand Cherokee L comes standard with middle row captain's chairs, but this tester was equipped with the optional $695 three-person, second-row bench seat allowing for maximum seating capacity of seven. While a power-folding third row is standard on the top trim levels, the Laredo and Limited have third row seats that manually fold down by pulling the center handle and then raises up by pulling on the strap. During my trip, I got to visit plenty of family and friends. The Grand Cherokee L proved itself as a worthwhile family hauler, and there's generous amounts of cargo space, too, with 17.2 cubic feet behind the third row and a maximum of 84.6 cubic feet with both rear rows folded flat. Additional storage space is hidden under the cargo floor.

Even though my tester was the base Laredo model with cloth seats, this trim level still delivers plenty of standard equipment, including a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, a three-zone climate control system and the 8.4-inch Uconnect5 multimedia system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The overall interior design is stylish and cohesive, and while I'm not usually a fan of Chrysler's rotary gear selector (especially on the Ram 1500), this shifter looked great, and featured stylish backlighting for extra visual effect. My sole complaint about the cabin is the abundance of glossy black trim on the center console, which proved hard to keep clean just after a week of driving around. For added comfort and convenience, this tester was also equipped with the $1,095 power sunroof and the $1,295 Luxury Tech Group I package, which adding a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, third-row USB charging ports, power liftgate and a 115-volt power outlet in the cargo area.


2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo Powertrain

 
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L comes standard with the proven 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 rated at 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, but the luxurious Overland and Summit trim levels can be optioned up with the more powerful 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic. The most surprising figure on the Grand Cherokee L's spec sheet is the 4,658-pound as-tested curb weight, which is about 100 pounds more than the two-row Grand Cherokee and 200 pounds less than a comparable Durango 4x4.

Despite the added size and weight, the Grand Cherokee L 4x4 V-6 has the exact same fuel economy as the non-L Grand Cherokee with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. After a week of driving, my tester showed an average of 20.3 mpg. The addition of a third row eats into the fuel tank capacity of the Grand Cherokee L as the 23-gallon tank is slightly smaller than the 24.6-gallon tank on the non-L, but this family hauler still has plenty of range. In this configuration, the Grand Cherokee L V-6 has a max towing capacity of 6,200 pounds, while the V-8 engine increases the towing capacity to 7,200 pounds.

The Grand Cherokee L offers two four-wheel drive systems, and this tester was equipped with the full-time Active 4WD. There is no manual engagement of this system as it only provides 4x4 capability when the vehicle automatically senses wheel slippage, and it uses a single-speed transfer case, which means there is no neutral gear for flat towing and no 4LO setting for serious off-roading. I was able to do some light off-roading on dirt roads and a wet, grassy field, and the system performed flawlessly. Most of my time was spent on the road, though, and the Grand Cherokee L delivered a smooth ride thanks to its four-wheel independent suspension. 


2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo Safety

 
While the previous-generation Grand Cherokee received a five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L has yet to be tested. Standard safety features on all trim levels include Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking and Pedestrian Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Path Detection and Rear Park Assist Sensors.


2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo Overall

 
Thanks to its bigger dimensions and extra row of seating, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is quite literally the grandest Grand Cherokee ever. For now, this all-new, three-row Grand Cherokee L is being sold alongside the older body style two-row version, which was introduced in 2010. 

But a shorter, two-row version of the fourth-generation Grand Cherokee should arrive before the end of the year. With its starting MSRP of $38,635, the price premium for the extra row of seating (and the all-new body style) is $3,845 more than the 2021 Grand Cherokee. Add in the extra features, and the well-equipped 4x4 version of this Jeep you see here had an as-tested price of $44,120.


Jeffrey N. Ross
  | Sep 20, 2021

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo Specs

Layout

4-door, 7-passenger, AWD

Engine/Transmission

3.6L I6, 293 hp, 260 lb-ft
eight-speed auto

Mileage

18/25
(city/hwy)

NHTSA Rating

N/A


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