Factoid of the day: Seven out of 10 new luxurious SUVs offered nowadays include three rows of seats.
Till now, that’s been an enormous drawback for the parents at Jeep and their beloved Grand Cherokee, which has solely ever include two.
Now you’d assume that minivan-style seating for six or seven wouldn’t be too large of a requirement for a rugged 4×4 designed to climb mountains and plug by way of an Everglade swamp.
However nowadays, it appears adventurers need to take their buddies with them on mountain climbing, biking, kayaking and fishing expeditions, whereas city households need the “just-in-case” flexibility of big-bus seating.
So, after 11 lengthy years of manufacturing, the Grand Cherokee is lastly accessible with a 3rd row. It’s referred to as, considerably un-imaginatively, the Grand Cherokee L. As in L for Lengthy.
It does beg the query: What took you so lengthy?
The wait has undoubtedly been price it. Whereas the brand new “L” is a whopping 15 inches longer than the common two-row Grand Cherokee, it’s not merely a stretched model of the present mannequin.
For this new Cherokee, Jeep has developed an all-new platform that’s stiffer and wider for higher dealing with and agility, and one that gives really stretch-out, third-row lodging.
How accommodating? Flip ahead the good “tip-‘n-slide” second-row pews – both twin captains’ chairs or a three-across bench – and step proper into the again.
I’m a hair underneath six ft tall however might sit again there with out my kneecaps brushing the seat in entrance. Or having them pressed to my chest. Sitting again there for that lengthy journey to grandma’s home wouldn’t be an issue.
In fact area, and loads of it, is the opposite key profit of getting a trio of seat rows.
Fold flat the second and third rows and also you get a transport contained-sized 84.6 cubic ft of load area. Pin curtains to the home windows, throw in an air mattress, and also you’d have the proper weekend, off-the-grid Airbnb.
Design-wise, Jeep hasn’t strayed too removed from the profitable Grand Cherokee components.
That trademark seven-slot grille is somewhat wider and extra upright than earlier than, and is flanked by new, slimline LED headlights. Under there’s a brand new, outsized, chrome-ringed air consumption for a beefier look.
Jeep designers have additionally accomplished a positive job of avoiding the prom-night stretched-limo look. The sloping roof-line and beautiful chrome strip that follows its swoopy line, offers it a glossy, fashionable profile. That is one handsome Jeep that’s nonetheless unmistakably a Grand Cherokee.
Not all is new. Carried over are the marginally geriatric 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8 engines, each of which lack the smoothness, refinement and responsiveness of the most recent turbo motors.
The V6, which debuted again in 2011, is nice for 293-hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, however nowadays feels over-worked and out-of-breath attempting to maneuver such a hefty three-rower.
My selection could be the extra muscley, extra refined V8 with its 357-hp and 390 torques. Particularly if in case you have a ship to tow. However its 14mpg metropolis financial system is embarrassing.
But coupled to a wonderful eight-speed automated, and with Jeep’s must-have QuadraTrac all-wheel drive and retuned steering, this new Grand L is a real delight to drive on and off street.
It rides smoother too, courtesy of that redesigned chassis and the accessible QuadraLift air suspension that may elevate the journey peak by as a lot as 4.2 inches.
Mannequin-wise there are 4 flavors of Grand Cherokee L to select from. The brand new vary kicks off with the airport-rental-desk $36,995 Laredo 4×2 and soars as much as the leather-lined, super-high-quality Summit 4×4 Reserve at $63,635.
In between there’s Altitude, Restricted and Overland variations with two-wheel drive or 4. However exhausting to think about a Grand Cherokee L with out 4×4.
Sure, there are many three-row rivals on this scorching, mid-size luxurious class – Acura MDX, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Nissan Pathfinder. However none have the rugged, off-road prowess of the Jeep.
It’d simply have climbed its method as much as the highest of the category.