2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Review and Test Drive
With three rows of seats, you'll have room for the whole crew and then some.
Enter the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, an extended-length version of the standard two-row Grand Cherokee equipped with seating for up to seven people. Three-row SUVs are popular with American families, so naturally, I wanted to find out how this roomier version of the Grand Cherokee would work as a daily driver for me, my partner, and our children.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L Has Wide Price Ranges
Since it debuted a couple of years ago, Jeep has made minor changes to the Grand Cherokee L. For example, in 2022 Jeep added an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen for the front-seat passenger to use, and a dual-screen rear entertainment system with Amazon Fire TV streaming capability for people riding in the second row. New exterior packages providing blacked-out wheels and trim also arrived that year. In 2023, the Grand Cherokee L gets a few minor updates, such as the stand-alone availability of premium and high-end audio systems and standard inclusion of the 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with more trim levels.
The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L comes in Laredo, Laredo X, Altitude, Altitude X, Limited, Overland, Summit, and Summit Reserve trim levels. Base prices range from the mid-$40,000s to the mid-$70,000s, including the destination charge to ship the SUV from the Detroit, Michigan, factory that builds it to your local dealership.
For this Grand Cherokee L review, I test-drove a Summit model equipped with four-wheel drive, extra-cost paint, Advanced Pro-Tech Group IV and Luxury Tech Group V option packages, and a 19-speaker high-end McIntosh audio system. These upgrades brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $73,970, including the $1,795 destination charge. Jeep provided the vehicle for this Grand Cherokee L review.
Theoretically, the Grand Cherokee L competes with other midsize three-row SUVs. Those rivals would include the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-90, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, and Volkswagen Atlas.
However, Jeep charges a substantial premium for the Grand Cherokee L, especially for Summit and Summit Reserve variants. That lofty pricing puts the high-end versions of the Jeep in direct competition with the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60, Land Rover Discovery, Lexus GX, and Volvo XC90.
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Fulfills Your Three-Row Needs
With no more than a glance, the Grand Cherokee L is instantly identifiable as a Jeep. It wears all expected brand-design cues wrapped in familiar but decidedly modern bodywork.
Telling the difference between the standard two-row Grand Cherokee and the extended-length Grand Cherokee L is a little more difficult. There are minor front styling and wheel design differences, but the most significant tells are the L's longer rear doors and more upright rear roof pillars and back window glass.
Summit trim adds subtle styling modifications to signal its luxury SUV ambitions. For example, it has a complex multispoke wheel design and a chrome-studded grille insert. In addition, all Grand Cherokee L Summit models have a black-painted roof, giving the SUV a more upscale two-tone appearance. Of course, when you choose Diamond Black Crystal paint, as shown on the test vehicle, the selection erases the two-tone effect.
Summit trim adds lots of luxury to the Grand Cherokee L's cabin, most evident in perforated, quilted, and stitched premium leather, authentic wood trim, ambient cabin lighting, and a full menu of technology. Overall, the interior offers an upscale design, a logical layout, and premium materials. However, some surface panels and controls look and feel unsubstantial at the test model's price. In addition, during a summer heatwave, the air conditioning struggled to keep the Grand Cherokee L's cabin cool.
The test vehicle had 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, ventilation, and massage. A heated steering wheel and heated rear seats stood ready for family road trips to ski resorts, and thanks to a four-zone automatic climate control system, most passengers could set their own temperature.
Front-seat comfort is good, but you feel like you're sitting on the seats instead of in them. The test model's second-row captain's chairs supplied commendable room and support, and the Grand Cherokee L's third-row seat accommodates adults for trips of moderate length.
Interior storage isn't as generous as it should be for a vehicle obviously designed for the great American road trip. To some degree, style takes precedence over practicality. However, the Grand Cherokee L supplies generous cargo room. Behind the third-row seat, this Jeep provides 17.2 cubic-feet of luggage volume. Fold the seat down, and the cargo area is cavernous at 46.9 cu-ft. Maximum volume impresses at 84.6 cu-ft.
Technology Is King in the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L
As you might expect from an SUV aspiring to serve families, the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L comes with plenty of technology, especially on the more expensive trim levels. However, all versions of the Grand Cherokee L get Jeep's latest and greatest Uconnect 5 infotainment system.
Lower trims pair Uconnect 5 with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, but starting with Limited trim, the Grand Cherokee L has a 10.1-inch touchscreen. Standard feature highlights include Bluetooth connectivity for two phones simultaneously, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa compatibility, SiriusXM 360L satellite radio, a digital voice assistant, and voice text reply capability. Upgrades with the larger screen include a navigation system and connected services with a Jeep Connect smartphone app. Over-the-air software updates keep Uconnect 5 current over time.
To rouse the digital voice assistant, just say: "Hey, Jeep." During the evaluation, this prompt resulted in a quick response and mostly accurate interpretation and execution of verbal commands. In addition, my Summit test vehicle's optional 19-speaker McIntosh high-end audio system delivered a rewarding listening experience.
Additional tech for the Grand Cherokee L includes a 10.3-inch digital instrumentation panel, a Night Vision system that shows thermal imaging on the digital IP to help drivers spot pedestrians and animals on the road ahead, and a generous 10-inch head-up display. Camera-based systems include a digital rearview mirror, a FamCam rear-seat monitoring camera, and a surround-view camera.
Every Grand Cherokee L includes the essential driving assistance and collision avoidance systems people have come to expect in a new vehicle. In addition to these warning and active collision-prevention systems, the SUV offers an Intersection Collision Assist system that can detect vehicles approaching the Jeep from either side. Active Driving Assist is also available, a new hands-on semi-autonomous driving technology that pairs adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance.
In use, the Active Driving Assist is mildly annoying. The steering inputs frequently don't correspond to the desired driver inputs, and the lane-change function is too abrupt. Less obvious system activity would lead to greater driver trust in the technology.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Jeep Grand Cherokee L does a great job of protecting its occupants in a collision. The SUV earns five-star ratings across the board, except for a four-star rollover resistance rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Grand Cherokee L a Top Safety Pick +.
What It's Like to Drive the Jeep Grand Cherokee L
Jeep equips every Grand Cherokee L with a standard 3.6-liter V6 engine generating 293 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. In addition, a 5.7-liter V8 making 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft is available with the Overland, Summit, and Summit Reserve trim levels.
Both engines use an eight-speed automatic transmission. The maximum towing capacity for the V6 engine is 6,200 pounds, while the V8 can pull as much as 7,200 pounds. The V6 powers the Jeep's rear wheels unless you choose one of the two optional four-wheel-drive (4WD) systems, while the V8 is available only with 4WD.
If you have no plans to head off-road, the Quadra-Trac I full-time 4WD system is fully automatic and ready for blizzards. Quadra-Trac II features a two-speed active transfer case with low range and is helpful for more treacherous terrain. If you're heading well off the beaten path, the Quadra-Drive II system builds on Quadra-Trac II with an electronic limited-slip rear differential.
Additionally, the Grand Cherokee L offers Selec-Terrain driving modes. Drivers choose between Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud, and Rock settings. The available Quadra-Lift air suspension supplies five height settings and helps to give this Jeep up to 10.9 inches of ground clearance combined with 24 inches of water fording capability.
We put the Grand Cherokee Summit through its paces in a moderately challenging environment, and it performed well enough to give the majority of its buyers confidence when the going gets tough.
In the urban and suburban environs of a major city, where this Jeep will spend most of its time, the Grand Cherokee L feels stoutly constructed and impervious to crumbling infrastructure. The Quadra-Lift suspension supplies a smooth ride while filtering out the majority of harshness from the road surface, and this three-row SUV excels on the highway, where it proves quiet and resolute at speed.
The V6 engine sounds a little loud and unrefined but delivers satisfying acceleration. When in the Auto driving mode, the transmission doesn't always downshift as expected, as though it's doing whatever it can to preserve fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, switching to Sport mode overcorrects for this drivetrain behavior, resulting in an engine that holds revs for too long.
We elected to keep the Jeep in Auto mode, and it returned just 17.8 miles per gallon on the testing loop. That result falls well short of the official Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating of 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined.
A Midsize SUV at a Premium Price
Jeep sees itself as a premium brand, and it prices its vehicles accordingly. Unfortunately, that makes the Grand Cherokee L more expensive than similarly equipped three-row midsize SUVs. In turn, this creates a more complicated value proposition for Jeep to justify.
The Jeep Wave customer care program is one way the company does so. Every new Jeep comes with complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first two years or 24,000 miles, roadside assistance for five years or 60,000 miles, VIP access to Jeep events, and more. But are these ownership perks, combined with the undeniable appeal of owning a Jeep, enough to convince consumers the Grand Cherokee L is worth the price?
That is up to potential customers to decide. But at the as-tested price of the Grand Cherokee L Summit reviewed here, numerous alternatives are available from both mass-market and luxury brands. While it might be a good Jeep, whether it's a good midsize three-row SUV depends on what you're cross-shopping against it.