The market dictated that families wanted three-row SUVs – aside from the Dodge Durango. The Jeep brand delivered on a new platform for the Grand Cherokee.
This is exactly how it is supposed to be.
When Stellantis replaced the popular Jeep Grand Cherokee, they fulfilled a customer need by offering a three-row version on top of the two-row model. The void they filled resulted in a flood of Grand Cherokee Ls on the road – more so seen than the two-row version.
The precedent for a three-row Jeep was already established over a decade ago. If you recall, the last such vehicle sold by the brand was the boxy and upright Commander that debuted for the 2006 model year. It sold for five model years until its demise in 2010. The Commander was a victim of the product reshuffling prior to the merger with Fiat S.p.A.
With that said, timing was on Stellantis’ side. In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the market dictated that families wanted three-row SUVs – aside from the Dodge Durango. The Jeep brand delivered on a new platform for the Grand Cherokee. Everyone seems happy, so far.
My second run with the Grand Cherokee L yielded a different mission this time around. Not to familiarize myself with it again. Rather to measure how successful it has been. After all, sales are on the upswing over the past year or so.
Jeep does a good job offering a wide choice of trims to attract various lifestyle consumers. My tester is called the Altitude, which slots between the Laredo and Limited trim levels. This model gets some upgrades, including a blacked-out grille and trim, along with 20-inch black-finished wheels.
What we have here is a sporty-looking three-row Grand Cherokee. Not the chrome-laden, luxury model everyone was expecting. Perhaps that’s a good thing, consider the price of mid-size, three-row SUVs these days.
This Grand Cherokee L is not just some blacked-out SUV made to look cool. Stellantis designed this to be highly functional and practical. It certainly delivers on this.
My tester is a six-seat version, with captain’s chairs in the second row. The “pass-through” is elevated from the floor, but it is doable for those who can fit through to access the third row. Space is very accommodating across all three rows, especially for a family of six. All six passengers can sit comfortably on a set of leatherette seats with sueded cloth inserts.
When it comes to cargo space, you have plenty of options. If you have a cabin full of passengers, you get 17.2 cubic feet for everyone’s stuff. You can fold the second- and third-row seats down to provide a “flat” loading area with space up to 84.6 cubic feet. The sweet spot is when you do not use the third row. That was the case when I loaded the rollator on board for activities that require me to have it. In that case, I have 46.9 cubic feet available for me.
For the driver, the leatherette/sueded cloth seats are fine. They are a bit on the firm side, but the driver’s seat has not failed on me in both short and long stints behind the wheel. I get a customizable digital instrument cluster that gives me the information I need. While you can have the dials enlarged, you do lose the ability to access key information, such as tire pressure, oil temperature and pressure. This tester did not have a head-up display, which would probably be of use for some drivers.
The Altitude tester came with a standard 8.4-inch UConnect 5 touchscreen right on the center stack. You get a lot of functionality that Stellantis’ latest infotainment architecture provides. Six standard speakers spread sound throughout the 159.1 cubic feet cabin.
To power your Grand Cherokee L, you can choose between the Pentastar V6 or the HEMI V8. My tester came with the V6, a 3.6-liter unit putting down 293 horsepower. That runs through an eight-speed automatic transmission spreading that power to all four wheels. With this configuration, you can tow up to 6,200 pounds.
I found the overall performance to be smooth. No drama coming from the driveline, and it responds very well to traffic conditions. In turn, this Grand Cherokee L Altitude tester yielded a fuel consumption figure of 22.3 MPG.
The ride quality is what you expect from a mid-size three-row SUV: Smooth and equally drama-free. You can confidently take your friends on an adventure without any complaints from the back two rows. The Grand Cherokee L also responds to evasive maneuvers quite well, but please be careful when you find the limit. There is some roll that might happen when coming into a turn harder than you should.
The steering wheel yielded a heavier feel, which provided more confident. That resulted in a solid steering rack with a solid turning radius and on-center feel. As for the brakes, it is a very solid system. Pedal feel is good, turning good stops in normal and panic situations.
By now, you shouldn’t have to go into sticker shock when pricing out these mid-size three0row SUVs. This 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L 4X4 Altitude tester came with a sticker price of $54,565. The Grand Cherokee L lineup starts at $42,030 with six trim levels available.
Somehow, I forgot to mention at the beginning of this story that this generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was a finalist for #VOTY2022. That should tell you why this SUV is considered a strong contender in its class.
This has been proven again by how the Grand Cherokee L delivered on its tasks – taking me to events and such. It does so by accommodating up to seven passengers (six in the case of this tester) comfortably without drama. It offers everything you expect in a Jeep – which is always something to repeat when necessary.
As I said at the beginning of this story: The Jeep Grand Cherokee L is exactly what it is supposed to be.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Stellantis North America
All photos by Randy Stern