2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve
Class: Midsize Crossover/SUV
Miles driven: 251
Fuel used: 13.4 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||293-hp 3.6-liter|
Real-world fuel economy: 18.8 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 18/25/21 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $59,660 (not including $1795 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Silver Zynith paint ($395), Summit Reserve Group 22U ($3000), Advance ProTech Group IV ($1995), Luxury Tech Group V ($245)
Price as tested: $67,090
The great: Spacious cabin for both people and cargo; respectable acceleration; upscale interior materials
The good: Off-road capability, especially when properly equipped; long list of options and available features
The not so good: Luxury-brand pricing, particularly when the options are ladled on
There is a strange dichotomy present in the Jeep model lineup that is unique to the brand. The all-crossover/SUV portfolio includes three “small” models (the Renegade, Compass, and Cherokee), two “midsize-plus” models (the Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L) and two “large” models (the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer). For the purposes of this conversation, we’ll ignore the special-interest Wrangler and its related versions.
While the three smaller Jeeps all play, more or less, in the mainstream market price-wise, the larger senior Jeeps lean distinctly towards the luxury end of things. This is especially interesting because Jeep doesn’t really offer a traditional mid-price, midsize crossover. Jeep’s marketing positions the Cherokee as midsize, but even though the Cherokee is available with V6 power, it’s actually slightly smaller than some compact-SUV rivals, such as Toyota’s RAV4.
All this leaves an interesting price gap in the Jeep showroom. While the difference in price between the most-expensive RAV4 and the least-expensive Highlander (Toyota’s three-row midsize crossover) is only about $1500, the step up from a Cherokee Limited into a Grand Cherokee Laredo (the least-expensive Grand Cherokee) will run consumers roughly $4000. That’s a big step, and taking that step depends almost entirely on the extent to which you accept Grand Cherokee as a luxury vehicle.
As more than 260,000 consumers ponied up for a Grand Cherokee in 2021—making it Jeep’s most popular model—we can only assume that many Americans have little problem cross-shopping Jeep against the likes of Lexus and BMW.
Introduced for 2021, the Grand Cherokee “L” became the first three-row vehicle in the brand’s U.S. lineup since the unloved Jeep Commander, which was discontinued after the 2010 model year. Based on an all-new platform, the Grand Cherokee L was sold alongside the previous-generation Grand Cherokee for the 2021 model year. For 2022, the original standard-length GC was redesigned as well, moving to a shorter version of the same platform as its L sibling. Fun fact: Jeep retails a long-wheelbase three-row version of the Cherokee in China called Grand Commander (and has no plans to sell anything similar here in the States).
Our test Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve represents about as much money as can be spent on a Grand Cherokee—almost. Summit Reserve is the top-line trim level for both the Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L, and our test vehicle was equipped with virtually every option save for the 357-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 (which adds $3795 to the bottom line).
Since it was all-new for 2021, the Grand Cherokee L soldiers into 2022 little changed. The only significant update for ’22 is the availability of a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system with Amazon FireTV streaming capability, and a 10.25-inch interactive touchscreen display in the passenger side of the dashboard. Both of these features are offered on Limited trims and higher.
Not surprisingly, Grand Cherokee L prices are up for 2022, and rather significantly. A ’22 L Summit Reserve equipped identically to our ’21 test vehicle lists for $71,480—a bump of more than $4000. As for the Grand Cherokee being a luxury vehicle, we’re pretty well convinced.
The Summit Reserve cabin is nicely finished with upscale materials, including classy real-wood accents. On the road, the standard 3.6-liter V6 provides more-than-ample power to move the Grand Cherokee L with authority. We would recommend the thirstier Hemi V8 only for buyers looking to do some serious towing.
A quick note about the available McIntosh premium audio system, which seriously impressed one of our editors. Though it’s pricey, the 19-speaker system (which is $1675 option on Summit and standard on Summit Reserve), is worth knowing about if you take your music seriously.
Though they are arguably full-fledged luxury vehicles (at least in their higher-line trim levels), the Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L come up short against the premium-brand competition in two ways: warranty coverage and dealership experience. While European luxury brands offer four years of bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage, the Grand Cherokee is only offered with three. Additionally, Jeeps are usually retailed alongside Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram vehicles in fairly ordinary dealerships. Shoppers looking for the Lexus sales experience may be disappointed.
We’re generally impressed by latest generation of the Grand Cherokee, though we think the prices are a little too high in most cases. But if the Jeep brand means something to you—and it clearly does to many consumers—we suggest adding the Grand Cherokee to your test-drive list. And be sure to check out the McIntosh sound system.
Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)
Steve & Johnnie’s Road Tests
- 30+ mpg
- Best Buys
- Big & Tall Friendly
- Brands and Marketing
- Car Care
- Car Spotter Challenge
- Classic Car Ads
- Classic Cars
- Commercial Vehicles
- Concept Cars
- Cool Things
- Electric Vehicles
- Favorite Car Ads
- First Look
- First Spin
- Forgotten Concept
- Fuel Economy
- Future Cars
- Future Collectibles
- Green Technology
- Industry News
- Luxury Vehicles
- Models and Toys
- Money Matters
- Muscle Cars
- Pickup Trucks
- Plug-in Hybrids
- Police/Law Enforcement
- Quick Look
- Review Flashback!
- Sporty/Performance Cars
- Station Wagons
- Steve & Johnnie's Road Tests
- Test Drive
- TV and Movie Cars
- Vehicles That Nearly Were
- Winter Driving
- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover