2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L revealed - Big 3-row SUV gains tech and style

Jeep has revealed its flagship SUV, with the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L promising more luxury on the road and more capability off it, together with seating for up to seven for the first time. Based on a completely new platform, and with styling clearly inspired by the recently-revealed Grand Wagoneer, it's a luxe-push for the full-sized SUV.

That starts with a more refined exterior design. Gone is the relaxed grille of the old model, with the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L getting a longer hood and cab, plus a forward-tipped grille. The roof is lower and tapered.

At the front, there are slim LED headlamps, flanking the seven-slot grille with its larger individual openings. The bigger lower grille allows for the long-range radar and other components to better blend in. More slimline LED features at the rear, with the new taillamp clusters set higher. The lower fascia is new and gets new LED fog lamps, while there are vertical pillars for the tailgate and a spoiler that integrates the reversing camera and its washer. LED lighting is standard across the board.

Summit trim gets a gloss black roof as standard, while it's an option on the Overland trim. All versions have a 36mm wider track, with meatier trapezoidal wheel arches. 21-inch wheels are standard on the Summit Reserve Package trim.

Underneath all that is new, independent front and rear suspension for the new unibody design. Jeep is mounting the axle directly to the engine, and using aluminum for the hood and tailgate, to save weight; other components use advanced high-strength steel for increased strength. Active noise cancellation and acoustic glass are standard.

Optional is Jeep's Quadra-Lift air suspension, which has a secondary air reservoir so that both axles can lower simultaneously. It also uses electrically-controlled, semi-active shocks that can be adjusted to road conditions.

Initially, there'll be two engines to choose between. The standard drivetrain will be a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with an eight-speed automatic, across the Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit trims. It gets 290 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque and is rated to tow 6,200 pounds. Overland and Summit versions will be able to upgrade to the 5.7-liter V8 with the same transmission, for 357 hp, 390 lb-ft of torque, and 7,200 pounds of towing.

What there's not – at least for the moment, anyway – is electrification. Though Jeep has announced some plug-in hybrid models, like the Wrangler 4xe, we'll have to wait a little longer to see that technology come to the Grand Cherokee L. According to the automaker, a Grand Cherokee 4xe is expected to debut later this year.

Instead, the big choice at launch will be which of the three 4x4 systems with an active transfer case to go for: Quadra Trac I, Quadra Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II rear eLSD. Quadra-Trac I has a single-speed active transfer case and promises to adjust torque distribution – with up to 100-percent to each axle – according to road conditions. Quadra-Trac II throws in a two-speed active transfer case with low-range gear reduction, and active 4-Low torque control with a 2.72:1 gear ratio.

Finally, Quadra-Drive II has a a two-speed active transfer case and rear eLSD. It can divert power to specific wheels, and is standard on the Summit trim and optional on the Overland 4x4 with the Off-Road Group. With Quadra-Lift, the Grand Cherokee L can adjust its height automatically or manually: from the 8.3-inch standard clearance, up to 10.9-inches for off-roading (with a 24-inch water fording depth), or down 1.8-inches for easier entry and exit. With air suspension, there's a 30.1-degree approach angle, 23.6-degree departure, and 22.6-degree breakover.

Whichever 4x4 system is choosen, there'll be Selec-Terrain. That has five modes – Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, and Mud/Sand – as well as Hill-descent Control. It adjusts powertrain settings, 4x4 torque split, braking and handling, steering and suspension systems, including throttle control, transmission shift, transfer case and traction control, stability control, ABS, and steering feel.

Inside, the biggest news is the option of six or seven seats for the first time. Jeep has paired that with new materials, like real metal, open-pore wood, and leather. The dashboard gets either an 8.4- or 10.1-inch touchscreen for Uconnect 5 – with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – and there's a 10.25-inch digital cluster for the driver. Two Bluetooth phones can be connected at the same time, and there's Alexa, maps, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, and SiriusXM. Transmission control is now by a metal shift knob with haptic feedback, flanked by ride-height and Selec-Terrrain controls.

The front bin now has space for two phones, and can optionally wirelessly charge them both simultaneously. Overland and Summit trim get length-adjustable front row seat cushions; Summit trim has standard massage and 16-way power adjustment. Limited trim and above get seat heating for the first two rows; Overland and Summit have ventilated front seats, while Summit Reserve Package cars get ventilated second row seats too.

The second row has tip-and-slide bucket seats that recline 18-degrees, or an optional bench, and can slide 7-inches front and back. A power-folding third row is optional, with 50/50 split. Second and third row seats can fold into a flat load floor, boosting the total cargo space from 17.2 cu-ft behind the third row, to 46.9 cu-ft behind the second row, to a maximum of 84.6 cu-ft. Overland and Summit trims get remote second row folding, and all but the base trim have a programmable-height power lift gate.

As standard, Summit models have second-row captain's chairs and a new center console design. All trims get 12 USB ports – a mix of Type-A and Type-C – and standard multi-color LED lighting. Summit trim has four-zone HVAC, while Summit Reserve throws in quilted Palermo leather and other niceties.

Overland and Summit cars can have McIntosh auto with a 950W amp and 19 speakers, including a 10-inch sub. They also have a dual-pane sunroof, optional on the Limited; Laredo trim has an optional single-pane sunroof.

Active Driving Assist – with hands-on adaptive cruise control and lane-centering – is available on Overland and standard on Summit; later in 2021, on model year 2022 Grand Cherokee L, there'll be Hands-free Active Driving Assist, which will allow the driver to take their hands off the wheel. A night vision camera is optional, as is a head-up display and Intersection Collision Assist.

A digital rearview mirror is available, as is a 360-degree camera. Park-assist is optional on the Summit trim. All 2021 Grand Cherokee L SUVs get adaptive cruise control, active lane management, lane-departure warnings, and lane-keep assistance, blind-spot monitoring, full-speed collision warning – with pedestrian and cyclist detection – and active braking, and rear cross path detection. There's also tire-pressure monitors, advanced brake assist, and parking sensors for the rear. Optional is an in-cabin camera to monitor the rear rows.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L will arrive in dealerships in Q2 2021, the automaker says. Pricing will be confirmed closer to that point.