When the O.G. arrives, the wannabes should watch and learn. In this case, the original SUV brand is Jeep, and it just jumped into the booming market for family-carrying vehicles with three rows of seats.
New from the ground up, Jeep's 2021 Grand Cherokee L redefines one of the biggest and most popular classes of family vehicles with a winning combination of room, comfort, capability and features.
The six- or seven-passenger SUV delivers off-road ability beyond the dreams of three-row family haulers like the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent and Toyota Highlander.
It's almost unfair to compare the Grand Cherokee L to those vehicles. They weren't designed to handle the torture Jeep engineers put the Grand Cherokee L through. The only brand that routinely expects as much from its SUVs is Land Rover.
But with prices starting at $36,995 — $38,995 for four-wheel drive — the Grand Cherokee L competes with the mainstream family haulers, not Land Rover's more expensive luxury lineup.
The Grand Cherokee L is Jeep's first attempt to build a three-row SUV since the boxy Commander flopped more than a decade ago.
The existing five-passenger Grand Cherokee is immensely popular. Its combination of luxury, brand appeal and off-road ability has made it a pillar of the Jeep brand second only to the Wrangler since it debuted as a 1993 model. Despite that success, the lack of a three-row model locked Jeep out of 75% of the market for midsize/family SUVs, which has boomed in recent years. Jeep expects the Grand Cherokee L to win lots of new customers, and retain some who left the brand for a three-row SUV.
The Grand Cherokee L goes on sale in July. A new version of the five-passenger Grand Cherokee will follow later this year.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L lineup and prices
—L Laredo: $36,995 ($38,995 for 4x4)