A jack of all trades which has aged like wine
Price From $35,460- To: $90,025
by SUViews Editor | Nov 15, 2021
While some models reach the end of their generation hiding at the back of the showroom, Jeep’s overachieving son has done the opposite. It used the past few years to work on its flaws and keep up with its strong suits but, at the same time, stayed true to its purpose. It is a solid contender in the midsize SUV segment.
Performance, Engine, and Comfort
Jeep has made time work in favor of this model. The Grand Cherokee had a well-rounded project when the current generation debuted, but each facelift came with big improvements where they were really necessary and simple tweaks at aspects where the car already did well. That is why this generation managed to keep prestige high up to the end of its life cycle.
The vast list of trim options, whether of regular or limited production, allows it to offer large, sporty engines, elegant and refined cabin, or rugged off-road preparedness. All of that comes at a cost, of course, but there are so few competitors with this level of commitment to different purposes that the Grand Cherokee simply becomes incomparable in many aspects.
Engine & Performance
If we can point out one good thing about having an aging lineup is the opportunity to get feedback and improve the cars accordingly. When it comes to Jeep, the Grand Cherokee is the best example that we can mention. Powerful engines, balanced handling, and sophisticated off-road capability make it a well-rounded SUV.
Engine and gear
All urban trim levels use the omnipresent Pentastar engine, a 3.6-liter V6 good for 293 hp of power. It is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and does a great job at moving its weight. All these versions come with rear-wheel drive as standard except for the Trailhawk.
The SRT version upgrades for the HEMI 6.4-liter V8 engine, which produces 475 hp. It comes with the same gearbox but makes AWD mandatory like the Trailhawk. The high-performance Trackhawk offers the same in this regard but resorts to a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 to reach 707 hp.
The fact that the Grand Cherokee is a Jeep allows us to deduce that even the base trim brings a well-adjusted suspension. However, some trim levels take that up a notch by offering another setup, the Quadra-Lift air suspension. It makes the general behavior smoother without losing the feeling of control and, whenever necessary, raises the ride height to 10.8 inches.
This is a North-American midsize SUV, which means it is quite large and heavy, and Jeep does not try to deny it. The steering offers a balanced sense of weight, which preserves a feeling of control for the driver while keeping the car comfortable to drive even through long periods.
Ride & Vibration
You will experience the typical behavior of an off-road car here. Most versions offer a coarse ride and transmit the external vibration through the chassis and to the cabin with little filtering. However, the situation gets better on the upscale trim levels, such as the Trailhawk, where you can opt for the air suspension.
Safety & Reliability
Three, five years ago, this SUV would be considered a great option in this aspect. That means it’s pretty much average nowadays, compared to the youngest rivals, but also that it’s still well-equipped. A great side note is that even the base trim levels have decent item lists; the biggest flaw here is to lack the latest electronic assists that take safety and security to a new level.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard equipment here. The brake pedal is rather soft in the first part of its travel but gets firmly shortly afterward.
The Grand Cherokee’s standard package includes front and side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger (side ones are seat-mounted) and curtain airbags for both first and second seat rows.
The Uconnect infotainment system is available on all trims, but the base setup uses a small 5-inch touchscreen – it is possible to upgrade it with an 8.4-inch unit. Speaking of optional equipment, you can also get rear-seat screens for entertainment, in-car Wifi, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
While the Laredo E version is basic to the point of not offering turn signals on the side mirrors, the top-spec ones use LED headlights with automatic high beam function.
ABS and driveline traction control are standard. If you plan to use your Grand Cherokee mostly in the city, you will probably not mind taking the base RWD setting offered in most trim levels. AWD is a $2,000 or $3,000 optional item on all of them and the standard setup on the others and uses the specific Quadra-Drive II system for additional capability.
It is common to see many trim levels available for a car, even with multiple powertrain options. However, the Grand Cherokee stands out for repeating such a variety in audio systems: the standard unit has six speakers but can be replaced by a Boston Acoustics unit, a nine-speaker Alpine system, or a 19-speaker Harman/Kardon equipment depending on the trim level.
This is a North-American midsize SUV originally designed over ten years ago: the only high numbers you are going to see here are engine displacement and power. Fortunately, the smallest engine is more than competent for the Grand Cherokee in case you do not have track-driving pretensions.
Most of the available trim levels use a 3.6-liter V6 engine. The SRT changes it for the HEMI 6.4-liter V8 while the Trackhawk uses the supercharged 6.2-liter V8.
Gas per mileage consumption
Jeep’s official information states that the 2021 Grand Cherokee makes 19/22/26 mpg (city/highway/combined) equipped with the V6 engine regardless of the trim level; opting for the available all-wheel drive reduces those figures by 1 mpg each.
The SRT is good for 13/15/19 mpg and the Trackhawk reduces it even further to 11/13/17 mpg. All those numbers consider the official recommendation to use premium unleaded gasoline.
It could be said that this SUV lacks some of the latest design features, like multiple touchscreens or comprehensive smartphone connectivity. However, it is a Jeep: people come to it for other reasons, like wanting a comfortable family car with handsome looks and solid off-road gear for eventual road trips, and it delivers. In fact, it delivers much more than that.
Plenty of space is available. The large number of trim levels differs the most in appearance, and that clearly shows in the cabin. The driver may get a sense of generic rental car, off-road ruggedness, mid-level luxury, or even halfway to a sports car depending on how it is specified.
The 2021 Grand Cherokee was designed at a time when Jeep used a discreet but balanced internal design. The dashboard looks simple but has everything in the correct place, including the large touchscreen for the infotainment system. And it has soft-touch materials and redundant buttons.
Passenger seats and extras
The boxy design and the absence of the third row of seats have made life easy for the passengers. The Grand Cherokee uses refined soft-touch materials in regions with which people have frequent contact, like armrests and door panels, and hard plastic elsewhere. The list of optional items makes it quite interesting for long road trips.
Overall height and space
Jeep has worked with the two-row midsize SUV formula for a long time now, especially in the Grand Cherokee’s current generation, so there’s little to complain about. The generous dimensions and the boxy shape help it deliver plenty of space for all occupants.
The 2021 Grand Cherokee offers 36 ft³ of cargo space regardless of the trim level. You will only have an option to get more in its next-generation, which will offer a long-wheelbase variation for the very first time.
Price and Extras
Since this is the last model/year of the current generation, the Grand Cherokee has invested in a long list of variations to leave no buyer unattended. From the entry-level Laredo E to the upscale Summit and the track-oriented Trackhawk, there is an option for all tastes and budgets.
The Grand Cherokee has a long list of trim levels for 2021. Five of them are limited editions, as shown below, and some of those are based on regular trims. Ironically, “Limited” is both a regular and a limited version this time.
|TRIM LEVELS||STARTING PRICE|
|Freedom (limited edition)||37,900|
|Laredo X (limited edition)||39,205|
|80th Anniversary (limited edition)||44,195|
|Limited X (limited edition)||46,655|
|High Altitude (limited edition)||51,390|
Ever since Jeep turned 80 years old, it offers a three-year period of free maintenance for all models from the 2021 model year. It also covers 24/7 phone and online support, trip interruption and first-day rental coverage, and VIP access to specific events for Jeep owners.
It is impossible to watch or read any official piece of information about the 2021 Grand Cherokee without seeing that it is “the most awarded SUV ever”. However, that slogan refers to the fact that the model has won more awards than any other SUV over its lifetime; it does not disclose which ones regard the 2021 model.
If you are not interested in the upcoming model, rest assured that you will still get a high-standard SUV by choosing the 2021 Grand Cherokee. Besides, opting for it gives you some emotional perks, like the possibility of taking sporty or luxury versions which are not available for the new model yet, and rational ones, such as the possibility of getting discounts at your local dealer.