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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland is shown parked on a forest trail.

Is the Grand Cherokee L a Luxury SUV? We Settle the Debate Once and for All

Southern California has no shortage of happy Jeep owners, and today’s Jeep dealership in Los Angeles brand/region connection is stronger than ever. Given the sun is almost always shining and the temperature hovers at a perfect 75 degrees in the City of Angels, the appeal of the Jeep brand goes beyond just its rugged capability. Could it be that Angelenos are opting in on Jeep vehicles for other reasons?

The answer is yes and no. LA’s proximity to the mountains and a plethora of expansive national parks makes it a haven for adventure seekers. Who wouldn’t want to surf on Saturday and strap on the snowboard to shred the gnar on Sunday afternoon? Jeeps handle varying terrain better than almost any other vehicle on the road, making them an obvious choice for this type of buyer, but what if you also want luxury?

Even models like the Grand Cherokee are capable of double – and even triple – duty. The new Grand Cherokee L finally offers three rows of seats for growing families without abandoning the Trail Rated capability Jeeps are famous for while simultaneously offering a trim range that will satisfy even the most discerning buyers. But, for true high-end luxury buyers, does the Grand Cherokee L stack up to comparatively-priced alternatives?

The grey and black interior of a 2022 Grand Cherokee L shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

Luxurious Jeep Is Not an Oxymoron

When you buy a Jeep, you expect certain givens: it’s a given that off-roaders will find powertrains and equipment packages that allow them to outfit their rigs for serious adventure. It’s also a given that any Jeep comes with a certain amount of cultural swagger that identifies its owner as fun and adventurous. It’s a cool-by-association brand reality that’s very unique to Jeep.

When viewed through a luxury lens, however, the Jeep brand should rightly be subjected to a different set of criteria. What constitutes a luxury SUV? Buyers should expect a varied trim range with a substantial list of available high-end comfort and convenience extras. Most luxury SUVs offer plush features like leather seating, heated seats, and upgraded audio systems, but it’s the uncommon features that truly differentiate them.

It turns out that the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L holds its own against not only comparably priced alternatives but ultra-high-end brands like Range Rover and Audi. One look at the spec sheet of the Summit Reserve trim verifies the similarities in all but one area: price. In a way, the Grand Cherokee L bridges two different categories – full-size SUV and full-size luxury SUV (depending on trim). There is no doubt the allure of the Jeep brand and a signature seven-slot grille will draw buyers, but affordability is a key point of difference. It’s an affordable high-end luxury SUV.

Could this be Jeep’s way of expanding its customer base to include suburban families who may not be as enamored with the adventurous lifestyle Jeep is famous for? It certainly seems so, and it’s a calculated decision that gambles on the Grand Cherokee’s wildly successful popularity thus far. Within the GC’s ownership base is a subset of owners that were willing to spend nearly $60,000 on the top-level trims. It makes sense that Jeep wants to see how far it can push the price and luxury envelope without hitting a wall.

High-End Grand Cherokee Features

The 2021 model year ushered in the Grand Cherokee’s first major redesign in over a decade. Jeep made some styling and powertrain tweaks to the previous generation, but the Grand Cherokee maintained its basic architecture. It’s a testament to Jeep’s design home run because most generational life cycles can’t stretch to a decade without losing market share.

For 2021, Jeep adds the first-ever Grand Cherokee with three rows of seats. In doing so, the company opens up the popular SUV to a whole different demographic. Similar to other large SUVs like the Tahoe and the Suburban, Jeep wisely adds trims with luxury-level features affluent soccer moms (and dads) demand without abandoning affordability altogether.

The Grand Cherokee L starts at under $40,000 and stretches all the way into the high $60,000 range. The top-of-the-line Summit Reserve features Palermo leather seating, a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system never before seen in a passenger vehicle, and a handful of innovative technology that includes an interior camera for easy viewing of the 2nd and 3rd row and night-vision pedestrian detection.

There’s also plenty of over-the-top luxury to be had on the Grand Cherokee L, including available massaging seats and genuine wood trim interior accents, and it’s these exact features that push it over the line from high-end SUV to high-end luxury SUV. No one can argue that you need multi-color ambient LED interior lighting, but it’s yours if you want it in your Grand Cherokee L.

A grey 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve is shown driving through a forest.

Performance and Capability With a Twist

Lest we forget that the Grand Cherokee L is, in fact, a Jeep, it’s helpful to overview the SUV’s many performance-related attributes, not the least of which is its Trail Rated status. Jeep knows that most Grand Cherokee L owners aren’t spending their days crawling over rocks and fording rivers, but the fact is, they enjoy knowing they can if they really want to, which is the heart of the reason why so many people choose to buy a Jeep in the first place.

This particular Jeep comes with the choice of two engines: a base V6 that makes 290 horsepower or a beefed-up 6.2-liter V8 that increases output to 397 horsepower. Choosing the latter unlocks more towing capability, which is a major plus for weekend boat or RV haulers – up to 7,200 pounds of towing capability is possible for a properly-equipped Grand Cherokee L.

There are also three different 4×4 systems to choose from, which are aptly, and not-so-cleverly named Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Trac III. Combined with the available Selec-Terrain Traction Management System, any of these 4×4 configurations will deliver you through even the grittiest terrain. In fact, the five drive modes – Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, and Mud/Sand – let novices toggle to the setting that best fits the conditions, and they’re off to the races.

Jeep’s cool Quadra-Lift Air Suspension is the only one in its class. It improves aerodynamics on the highway (for better fuel economy) and raises ground clearance to 10.9 inches when necessary, providing a surprisingly efficient tool for crawling over deep snow or navigating a puddle of questionable depth confidently, thanks to 24 inches of water fording capability.

The Grand Cherokee L Is Luxury Redefined

Perhaps it’s most accurate to define the Grand Cherokee L as an ultra-luxury full-size SUV that’s both family-friendly and trail-ready. It’s too long for an advertising tagline, but in fact, this vehicle wears many hats, the largest of which is that when you boil it down, it’s a Jeep in the same way a Wrangler’s a Jeep.

What’s different is the overlay of pure luxury that buyers got a taste of with the previous-generation Grand Cherokee. This newest iteration leaves little doubt that Jeep intends to dominate the luxury SUV category, knocking off worthy competitors in even higher price brackets with a substantially upgraded cabin and a long list of niceties crafted for discerning buyers.

Jeep accomplishes this without straying far from its core brand ethos – adventure. Regardless of who’s behind the wheel, be it a soccer mom or a pro surfer, the Grand Cherokee L straddles a myriad of categories to deliver the trifecta: performance, capability, and premium luxury. It’s a winning combination for just about anyone with the cash to add one to their fleet, but especially for Southern Californians who never say no to an adventure.

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