|Positives: More refined exterior still carries the Grand Cherokee's ethos, high-end cabin looks and feels premium, great audio and infotainment, solid acceleration and good handling, comfortable ride, roomy in the first two rows.|
|Negatives: V6 is rough around the edges, too much piano black inside, so-so fuel economy.|
|Bottom Line: The Grand Cherokee L in top trim is a serious upgrade from the last generation, and it shows in just about every way including space, materials, tech, and styling. Too bad the V6 isn't smoother.|
The V6-trimmed Grand Cherokee rides and handles remarkably well, and it's surprisingly good to drive despite its somewhat rough 290-hp V-6. Towing is a respectable 6,200-pounds. Our tester came with the Quadra-Trac II 4WD System with Selec-Terrain System that did very well in the snow and on slippery roads.
Ride Quality: The Summit Reserve also comes standard with the Quadra-Lift Air Suspension, which provided for excellent ride quality over various surfaces. It's a very smooth ride no matter where you are.
Acceleration: The L is a big vehicle, and the V6 doesn't move it all that quickly. It takes about 8 seconds to get to 60 mph.
Braking: Braking is smooth and with drama. There is good pedal feel and braking progression.
Steering: We were surprised to feel some heft to the steering weight, which helps provide confidence. Feedback is decent, and precision is very good.
Handling: The handling is sharp for a vehicle of this size. Body roll was controlled, and the Grand Cherokee L felt balanced in the turns.
Tech has come a long way for the Grand Cherokee. It's graphically more pleasing, easier to navigate menus, and resolution appears to be much-improved. It also comes standard with wireless Appl CarPlay and Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio. Our tester also had dash navigation with real-time traffic and weather updates
Infotainment System: The standard 10.1-inch touchscreen display with Uconnect 5 is vivid and easy to read. Menus are simple and easier to understand than the last Uconnect 4 system. The screen, however, picks up a lot of fingerprints.
Controls: Controls for audio are excellent with two large, knurled knobs. Climate controls could be improved. They're comprised of small piano black buttons that hard to see and set too low on the center stack. The backlit buttons aren't very bright, either, so nighttime control is even more challenging.
The Grand Cherokee L stays with the same recognizable grille and overall shape while dialing up the refinement of the exterior and interior styling. The SUV doesn't look as rugged as before, and some might not like that. Overall, it's an improvement, and the cabin is dramatically more upscale than before with European-level sophistication and styling.
Front: The seven-bar grille looks good here, and it's flanked by thin headlights and a simple lower fascia. We think the hood is a bit too flat and could've benefited from more dramatic bulges and creases to give it more presence.
Rear: The thin LED taillights could be larger, but they do match the size of the headlights. The lower fascia seems a bit busy with numerous horizontal lines. We don't like the tailpipes that are set into the lower bumper.
Profile: The side view shows a long and lean body with a floating roof. It's nicely executed with minimal use of chrome and a nice single body crease that extends the full length of the Grand Cherokee L.
Cabin: The interior is really quite beautiful. It's one of the better-designed premium SUV interiors that's miles ahead of the last Grand Cherokee. Open pore wood and fine leather are great to look at, as well as touch, and the lines of the dash and door trim are truly attractive. Diamond quilt stitching is a nice addition for this trim level, and it really dresses up the cabin.
There's a lot to love about the interior comfort of the Grand Cherokee. Materials quality is top-notch at this level, and you get quite a bit for the money. The brand wants to go after BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Genesis, and Lincoln with this kind of interior treatment. There's plenty of space in the Grand Cherokee L, at least for the two front rows.
Front Seats: Seats are supple, supportive, and decadent with diamond-quilted leather, wide seatbacks, and massage functionality that keeps you awake on long commutes.
Rear Seats: The Summit Reserve L comes with 2nd row captain's chairs that look and feel great. Our tester even had optional ventilated seats that add versatility to the standard 2nd-row heated seats. Third-row seats are on the flat side with only about 30.3 inches of legroom, about the same as a Mazda CX-9.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The engine can sound a bit rough at times, but it wasn't overly intrusive. Road noise and wind noise are kept to a minimum at highway speeds thanks to solid levels of sound deadening.
Visibility: Visibility out the front is good with a low hood and a nice seating position. The sightlines out back are much worse. The C and D-pillars are overly thick, and the rear side window's shape with the noticeable uptick at the back doesn't help matters.
Climate: Despite the awkward climate controls, the heating and cooling work well. Vents in front are thin, but they move good amounts of air. Heated and ventilated seats are responsive, too.
The Grand Cherokee L hasn't been tested by the IIHS yet, but it did get high marks from the NHTSA testing body. It comes with a slew of great safety features, as well as diver assistance technology.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: The Grand Cherokee earns five stars from the federal government.
Standard Tech: The standard set includes quite a bit: Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Active Lane-Management System, Full-Speed Forward-Collision Warning Plus, Surround View Camera System, Parallel and Perpendicular Park-Assist with Stop, Blind-Spot and Cross-Path Detection, Side Distance Warning, Intersection Collision-Assist System, Pedestrian / Cyclist Emergency Braking, Active Driving Assist System, and Drowsy Driver Detection
Optional Tech: Our test vehicle was outfitted with teh $1,995 Advanced ProTech Group IV that includes a Head-Up Display, Night Vision w/ Pedestrian and Animal Detection, and a Rear-View Auto-Dimming Digital Display Mirror that helps you see out the back if the window is blocked by cargo.
If you're looking for a three-row that can swallow a ton of luggage and gear, the Grand Cherokee L isn't it, but that doesn't mean it won't work for most families. The load floor is flat, and there's enough space to road trip for a family of five.
Storage Space: We like the sizable armrest and the wireless charging cubby in the center stack. Door pockets are decently sized, and the front-row cupholders are nicely placed for easy access. We wish row three had more than just a single cupholder on each side.
Cargo Room: There's 17.2 cubic feet behind row three and 84.6 cubes with the seats folded flat. That's a bit less than the Kia Telluride (21 and 87, respectively) and the Ford Explorer (18 and 87) but more than the Toyota Highlander (16 and 84).
While the V6 isn't as thirsty as the optional V8 engine, our tester just did ok in terms of fuel efficiency. It's not a PHEV, so it doesn't benefit from electric support. Our AWD configuration also dropped the EPA numbers by 1 mpg each. That said, it's pretty much on par with competitors such as the Kia Telluride and the Ford Explorer.
Observed: 19.4 mpg
Distance Driven: 127 miles.
Our test vehicle came optioned out with the 19 Speaker High-Performance Audio system that has both a Active Noise Control System and a booming 950-Watt Amplifier. Sound was fantastic, and we were able to dial up the volume without distortion. It has ample bass and very good clarity.