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Review: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee 80th Anniversary Edition

Jeep’s venerable mid-size SUV celebrates the brand’s 80th birthday in style.

Pros

  • Equipment and interior quality rival some luxury marques
  • Impressive off-road credentials
  • Excellent tow rating

Cons

  • Dated ergonomics 
  • Weak fuel economy
  • More expensive than rivals of similar size

 

Overview

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee has been a mid-size SUV staple in the brand’s lineup since 1993. The current 4th-generation version has been on sale since the 2011 model year. An all-new iteration arrives later this year as a 2-row/5-passenger version of the all-new 3-row 2022 Grand Cherokee L that is already on sale. 

So, while the 2021 Grand Cherokee may be the oldest vehicle in Jeep showrooms, does its blend of luxury, practicality and off-road capability still make it a competitive buy in a crowded segment?

 

Pricing

One of the biggest appeals of the 2021 Grand Cherokee is its wide range of trims and powertrains. There is no Spartan Grand Cherokee. Even the base, 6-cylinder Laredo trim with a starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $49,565 (all prices in Canadian dollars) offers a roomy, comfortable, and well-appointed interior. While few rivals can match the Jeep’s off-road abilities—maximized with the off-road-oriented $61,565 Trailhawk trim—you’ll have to look at luxury brands like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche (or even Lamborghini) to compete with the high-performance $80,865 SRT and hyper-performing 707-horsepower $117,515 Trackhawk Grand Cherokees.

Our 2021 80th Anniversary Edition test vehicle sits in the upper-middle class of the Grand Cherokee lineup, based on the luxury-oriented $57,565 Limited trim that comes standard with V6. These special-edition vehicles (celebrating the Jeep brand’s inception in 1941) add unique wheels with Granite Crystal finish, exterior and interior accents, Berber floor mats and commemorative 80th Anniversary badging. The base MSRP starts at $61,060. Our test vehicle came with optional Violet Red Pearl paint ($295), Trailer Tow Group IV ($950), and the 80th Anniversary Luxury Group ($1,995) that adds such niceties as a 10-speaker sound system, active noise control system, panoramic sunroof, front ventilated seats and 2nd-row heated seats, plus power tilt/telescoping steering column. All-in, the total came to an as-tested price of $64,300, not including freight, pre-delivery inspection or taxes.

 

Competition

Whatever trim you're interested in, you'll quickly find a rival. But vehicles that match the Grand Cherokee 80th Anniversary Edition's luxury/off-road/towing combination are few. We recommend considering the GMC Terrain AT4, Honda Passport, Land Rover Discovery, or Toyota 4Runner.

 

Warranty

Although the higher 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee trim levels are priced like SUVs from luxury brands, its factory warranty is strictly mainstream. A Basic Warranty coverage backs all Jeep vehicles for 3 years or 60,000 kilometres plus a 5-year or 100,000-kilometre fully transferable Powertrain Warranty with $0 deductible, plus 24-hour roadside assistance.

 

Interior

Another longstanding quality of Jeep’s mid-size SUV is its well-designed and high-quality cabin. Most of the trim and materials feel durable and well screwed-together. Our 80th Anniversary edition Jeep used soft-touch materials and leather where it counts—armrests, upper door panels, the dashboard—but hard plastic exists elsewhere. The test vehicle’s large, dual-pane panoramic sunroof can easily lighten-up the cabin on cloudy days.

You sit tall in the saddle in the Grand Cherokee, with good visibility all around. The driver instrumentation is housed in an LCD display bracketed by analog gauges. The touchscreen infotainment system has been updated over the years and has ended up as a good mix of touchscreen access with knobs and buttons. Although the need to dig into the touchscreen menus to activate the heating, ventilation and cooling settings (and those front ventilated seats and 2nd-row heated seats) still seems unintuitive.

Without the need to cram in a 3rd-row of seats, both rear passengers and cargo space benefit. Behind the Jeep's second row of seats (which splits 60/40) there is an ample luggage area of 1,028 litres. With those seats folded, the space expands to a generous 1,934 litres.

 

Performance & Fuel Economy

With 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee's standard V6 should suit most buyers' needs, allowing for up to 6,200 pounds (2,812 kilograms) of towing capacity. Fuel economy estimates are average for the segment: 11.3 litres per 100 kilometres combined city and highway. We saw an as-tested 12.4 L/100 km mainly during city driving and no towing. All Grand Cherokee engines use an 8-speed-speed automatic transmission.

 

On the Road

While the Grand Cherokee’s off-road credentials are without question, the mid-size Jeep can handle pavement as well. Whether in the city or out on the highway, the Jeep does a good job blending the ride comfort of a luxury SUV with the power and handling of a large sedan. Adding to the luxury sedan experience, road noise is well isolated, aided by our vehicle’s optional active noise control system. Its steering is relatively accurate and has a nice weight to it. The Jeep tracks straight, which makes for relaxed long drives. Most notable: Rough stretches of potholed roads are easily shrugged-off, merely heard as a “thump” than felt.

Via a rotary dial on the centre console, you can choose from pre-configured Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow drive modes, while the Custom setting lets the driver customize the drive experience to their favourite settings. Once off-road, the Grand Cherokee’s generous ground clearance and capable 4x4 hardware provides the confidence to venture down any gravel or snowy road or trail. The 80th Anniversary Edition’s Quadra-Trac II 4x4 system works with the brake lock differential and four-wheel brake traction control systems and a two-speed transfer case. Four low mode locks front and rear driveshafts for low-speed power, rock crawling, and towing.

 

Safety & Driver Assistance Features

All 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokees includes more than 70 safety and security features, as well as an array of advanced user-friendly technology features. The 80th Anniversary Edition also includes as standard equipment and features Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers and Advanced Brake Assist.

 

Verdict

After a decade on sale, the current 2021 Grand Cherokee isn’t the newest tool in Jeep’s shed. Yet despite its age, it continues to be competitive in the mid-size SUV segment with the equipment and interior quality that can rival some luxury brands, impressive off- and on-road credentials, and an excellent tow rating.

The forthcoming, all-new 2022 Grand Cherokee has big shoes to fill.

 

Specs

2021 Jeep Cherokee 80th Anniversary Edition

Pricing

Base MSRP: $61,060

Violet Red Pearl paint: $295

Trailer Tow Group IV: $950

  • 4- and 7-pin wiring harness
  • Class IV hitch receiver
  • Delete rear tow hook
  • Full-size spare tire
  • Heavy-duty engine cooling
  • Rear load-levelling suspension
  • Steel spare wheel

80th Anniversary Luxury Group: $1,995

  • 9 Alpine speakers with subwoofer
  • 506-watt amplifier
  • Active noise control system
  • Dual-pane panoramic sunroof
  • Front ventilated seats
  • Power tilt/telescoping steering column
  • Second-row heated seats

As-tested: $64,300

 

Engine

3.6-litre V6

Horsepower

295 hp @ 6,400 rpm

Torque

260 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm

Transmission

8-speed automatic

Fuel Economy

11.3 L/100 km (12.7 city, 9.6 hwy)

As-tested: 12.4 L/100 km

Warranty

3 years/60,000 km

Max Seating Capacity

5

Curb Weight

2,153 kg

Wheelbase

2,916 mm

Overall Length

4,821 mm

Width

1,943 mm

Height

1,760 mm

Headroom, Front

1,014 mm

Headroom, Rear

996 mm

Legroom, Front

1.024 mm

Legroom, Rear

980 mm

Shoulder Room, Front

1,491 mm

Shoulder Room, Rear

1,473 mm

Cargo Volume Behind Rear Seats

1,028 L

Max. Towing Capacity

6,200 lbs (907 kgs)

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