Is Jeep’s All-New Grand Cherokee ‘L’ Too Large for Overlanding?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit

Jeep just unveiled the all-new Grand Cherokee L. No, that ‘L’ is not a typo. This is the new three-row, seven-seat Grand Cherokee variant. Because it presumably has a longer wheelbase (than the forthcoming all-new Grand Cherokee) to accommodate those additional passengers, it’s been bestowed the L suffix.

Typically, we don’t promote long, luxurious family haulers on The Compass. But this rig is special because it nicely blends trail capabilities with next-generation technology and luxury. Moreover, while it may be a slightly unorthodox choice for an overland rig, it will nonetheless be quite capable. Let’s look at the details.

First off, the new Grand Cherokee L rides on an all-new steel unibody frame. It is clad in very handsome bodywork and finished with an incredibly refined interior. The success of exterior styling along with the luxurious touch-points in the cabin are up to personal interpretation. From where I sit, though, it’s an absolute home run.

For example, the center console features a 10.1-inch digital touchscreen running the latest Uconnect infotainment system (one of, if not the best infotainment system on the market). Plus, capable of wireless Apple Carplay. Over in front of the driver is a frameless digital instrument cluster. Buyers can select gorgeous quilted leather seats and open-pore waxed walnut wood trim. However, again, since this is for overlanding, let’s skip the luxury bits and get to the meat of this all-new Jeep’s capability.

READ MORE: WHICH JEEP IS BEST FOR OVERLANDING?

Starting on the outside, the Grand Cherokee L, when fitted with the segment-exclusive Quadra-Lift air suspension, boasts a 30.1-degree approach angle, 22.6-degree breakover angle, and 23.6-degree departure angle. To put that into perspective, the Gladiator features an approach angle of 43.6 degrees, a breakover angle of 20.3 degrees and a departure angle of 26 degrees. The Grand Cherokee L isn’t purpose-designed for conquering the Rubicon Trail like the Gladiator, though. Given what is designed for, those figures are quite impressive — and more than adequate enough for many overlanders.

Speaking of that Quadra-Lift air suspension, in Off-Road mode 1, it lifts the Grand Cherokee L by 1.6 inches. Click it up to Off-Road 2 and it raises an additional 2.4 inches for a total of 10.9 inches of ground clearance and 24 inches of water fording (four inches more than the outgoing Grand Cherokee).

Jeep offers several versions of its 4×4 systems. For our purposes, we’ll focus on the top version, the Quadra-Drive II. Here’s how Jeep describes the capabilities of Quadra-Drive II:
“Quadra-Drive II, with a two-speed active transfer case and rear eLSD, delivers industry-leading tractive capability. The system instantly detects tire slip and smoothly reacts distributing engine torque to tires with traction. In some cases, the vehicle will anticipate low traction and preemptively adjust in order to limit or eliminate tire slip. Quadra-Drive II is available on the Overland 4×4 model when equipped with the Off-Road Group and standard on Summit models.”

Speaking of the Off-Road Group, Grand Cherokee Ls built with that option package receive 18-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires.

The Grand Cherokee L comes standard with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which produces 290 horsepower and 257 foot-pounds of torque. The Pentastar-powered Grand Cherokee L can tow up to 6,200 pounds. Plus, Jeep boasts, it can travel nearly 500 miles on a single tank of fuel.

 Buyers can step up to the 5.7-liter V8. That churns out 357 hp and 390 lb-ft. of torque. And it can tow up to 7,200 pounds. Both engines are backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission.

READ MORE: HOW TO START OVERLANDING

In addition to revealing that the five-seater Grand Cherokee is coming (likely with a better breakover angle and therefore even better suited to the trail), Jeep divulged that an 4xe version (similar to the Wrangler 4xe) will be coming later in 2021 as well.

It also stated that a hands-on-steering-wheel Level 2 automated driving system — along with a 360-degree and night-vision camera systems — will be available on the Grand Cherokee in 2021 for the 2022 model year. Although such an automated driving system wouldn’t be useful on a backcountry trail, it would make long highway drives more relaxing.

I don’t know about you, but after a long day on the trail, with hours on the highway between me and my next campsite, I’ve wished for an automated driving system. So, this Jeep system could be a game changer.

Like I said in the opener, the Grand Cherokee L probably wasn’t designed with overlanding in mind. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t handle some overlanding journeys. But is it, as I posited in the headline, too big for overlanding? Depends on how you use it.

It’ll offer 84.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third rows folded and 46.9 cubic feet behind the second row with the third row folded. That should be enough room for a cooler and good chunk of gear. Plus, you’ll have ample roof space to utilize for the rest of your gear. Or, heck, pair it with an adventure trailer and pull your overland kit behind you. If you keep off the super-technical trails, the long-bodied Grand Cherokee L should be more than capable of completing your dream overland journey.

Those keen to get their hands on the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee L, it’ll be available in showrooms soon. If you do pick one up and outfit it for overlanding, drop us a note. We’d love to see it.


Photos: Jeep

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit

Photo by Brett Willhelm

THE WORLD IS WAITING.

We keep our fingers on the pulse of the Overlanding world. Join the Overland News community and get our email on all things overland—including Overland Expo show updates, offers, and overland-specific articles.