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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L's off-road ability and interior leave competitors in the dust

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

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)

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