|✓ Grand Cherokee L offers another three-row option||☓ The V6 doesn’t cut it|
|✓ Modern styling, features||☓ Upgrading to the V8 sorts the power issue…at the expense of fuel economy|
|✓ Top trims are seriously luxurious||☓ Top trims are seriously expensive|
|✓ Expectedly off-road capable|
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Overview: Capable and downright luxurious
We Americans are road trip fanatics, and there are more options than ever if you’re looking for a stylish, comfortable, or capable vehicle that can handle the task. As such, the family-hauling three-row SUV represents one of the most ferociously competitive segments around. Despite being an all-SUV brand, Jeep in recent years didn’t really have a modern seven-passenger option — enter the Grand Cherokee L.
Jeep actually spearheaded the fifth-generation WL’s launch with the Grand Cherokee L, with the two-row version coming along a few months later. This car aims to offer buyers a go-anywhere, do-anything family hauler that’s more practical than your standard Grand Cherokee, while offering a more palatable price point than the truck-based Wagoneer or Grand Wagoneer. Overall, the L offers up five more inches in length than its two-row counterpart to accommodate the extra passengers and gear you’ll need to take on a cross-country journey.
To test out just how adept the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is at road trip duty, I took it on a 1,000-mile road trip around Colorado. My family and I definitely were not wanting for features, as this $73,515 Summit model brings nearly every conceivable option to the table, whether you’re driving or along for the ride.
I know what you’re thinking: “$73,000 for a Jeep!?” It’s expensive, that’s for sure, as this model and the even more expensive Summit Reserve push well beyond the brand’s reputation for ruggedly capable mainstream SUVs. Still, take solace that you can get more affordable variants (more on that later), and it’s not as expensive as its Wagoneer siblings. Seriously, if you want something out of the Jeep stable with a truly eye-popping price tag, go spec out a Grand Wagoneer L.
Six total trim options
While we’re looking at the upper end of the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L spectrum, there are more affordable trims to consider. The base Laredo 4×4 starts at $45,330, and brings all the essentials. That includes an 8.4-inch Uconnect 5 system (higher models get a 10.1-inch screen), digital instrument display, dual-zone front and single-zone rear climate controls and 12 USB ports throughout the cabin. Available packages bolster the feature list on the base trim, while the Laredo-based Altitude, Limited and Overland fill out the mid-range models.
All Jeep Grand Cherokee L models except the Summit Reserve come with rear-wheel drive by default and four-wheel drive as an option. Like past Grand Cherokees, the lower-end Laredo and Limited come with a single-speed (Quadra-Trac I) transfer case, while Overland and Summit/Summit Reserve trims get a low-range transfer case as well as Hill-descent Control. Quadra-Trac II systems normally get a limited-slip differential on the rear axle as well (in place of a selectable rear locker), though Jeep actually deleted it from our specific car and noted a $400 credit toward the bottom-line price.
Two powertrain options are available for the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L — both the corporate engines you’d expect. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is your standard mill, putting out 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. If you’re looking for a more potent option (and you are…more on that below), the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 makes another appearance and manages 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. The V6 is more efficient on paper (18 City / 25 Highway / 21 Combined mpg in 4×4 configuration), while the Hemi manages 14 City / 22 Highway / 17 Combined mpg. Both send power through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Interior, Comfort and Features: The Grand Cherokee L’s strong points
All 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L models come with three rows of seats, but by default you’ll get second-row captain’s chairs, limiting your capacity to six people in a 2-2-2 configuration. To get a second-row 60/40 split bench seat, you’ll have to spend an extra $750. No matter the seating arrangement, though, comfort is this SUV’s strong suit. The quilted leather seats in the Summit are an especially nice touch, as they not only exude class, but the front buckets boast heating, ventilation and massaging functionality to make 1,000 miles feel like 100. That said, even those in the rear seats are in for a smooth and comfortable ride thanks to the supportive seats and Quadra-Lift air suspension that comes standard on Overland and higher models.
The 2023 Grand Cherokee L sports a mind-boggling amount of tech, especially as you move up the trim stack.
The configurable instrument cluster can certainly be confusing to navigate at first (I’d recommend coming to grips with it while you’re parked), but can display navigation instructions through the Uconnect 5 system, trip information and even a night vision camera on Overland and Summit models that can spec it as part of the $2,380 Advanced ProTech Group.
Standard fare in the new WL Grand Cherokee includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as well as SiriusXM satellite radio. From there, you can upgrade to either a 9-speaker Alpine system or what we have here in this Summit: a 19-speaker McIntosh surround sound system. On a 1,000-mile road trip that system sounds phenomenal, and passengers can even mess with it through their own screen (if you fork out another $1,095 for it).
The Summit and Summit Reserve trims kick the luxury factor up a notch with open-pore wood, as well as front massaging seats that are heated and ventilated. Heated seats are either a package item or standard across the whole range, while ventilated front seats are available on most models — the massage feature is restricted to the Summit models as standard equipment but are available as part of the Lux Tech Group on the Overland. Ventilated second-row seats are only available on the Summit Reserve.
A luxurious ride, no matter the trim level
Even with all the features I rattled off above, the 2023 Grand Cherokee L keeps going with options like a pair of 10.1-inch screens for the rear passengers. Those feature Amazon FireTV as well as Wi-Fi connectivity. No matter which trim you choose, though, Jeep designers and engineers took this SUV to the next level in terms of looks and comfort. Over 1,000 miles, this SUV thoroughly impressed, with annoyances along the way few and far between.
One small gripe I do have is with the placement of the upper center stack buttons. The bank of switches sitting atop the infotainment screen control your automatic stop-start (if you have the V6), lane keep assist, traction control and ParkSense features, including the park assist and the passenger screen. Granted, you won’t use these buttons all the time, but they can be difficult to track down when you’re already on the move.
It’s a similar story for the climate controls. I’ll give Jeep a ton of credit for actually using physical buttons for all the major controls including the HVAC, heated steering wheel and seat controls, but oft-used buttons like recirculating air and the automatic mode are buried toward the passenger side, again making it a pain to hit those buttons while you’re driving.
Keep in mind, though, you can access a lot of these features through the Uconnect 5 display and you can use voice commands, but if you’re more of an old-school presser then you’ll have to take some time and effort to learn where everything’s located.
Performance: The Grand Cherokee L’s Achilles’ heel
From the looks to the features and the on-road comfort, I couldn’t complain much about the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L on a long trip. What I spent almost the entire time grumbling about, however, is the engine. Again, the standard option is Stellantis’ corporate 3.6-liter V6 that actually makes a bit more oomph than you get in the Wrangler. With a car this large and heavy, though, it’s just not up to the job…especially at altitude.
Mash your right foot and the V6 screams as it tries to give you everything it has, and it absolutely isn’t enough. Cresting U.S. 50’s Monarch Pass summit at 11,312 feet, the six-pot sounds and feels unrefined, on top of being catastrophically slow. Fuel economy is indeed decent compared to the 5.7-liter V8: I managed 22 mpg throughout the whole trip. But if you are shopping a Grand Cherokee L, allocate some of your budget toward getting the Hemi. You’ll thank me later.
As an all-around, do-everything vehicle, the V8 makes more sense more of the time. Not only does it tow up to 7,200 pounds (to the V6’s 6,200 pounds), but you won’t need to work it anywhere near as hard to get the job done on a long trip. The on-paper fuel economy is worse, I’ll grant you that, though you won’t do yourself any favors fighting with that V6 to get up hills, if you like in a mountainous area. And God help you if you hook up a trailer to the V6 model.
Maybe one day we’ll see a Grand Cherokee L 4xe that will marry small-displacement fuel economy with large-displacement performance, but it’s only an option on the two-row WL for the time being.
Beyond the engine, the L’s driving dynamics are surprisingly good
Get it in the cruise where you aren’t wringing the engine out to within an inch of its life, and the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L feels every bit as grown up and refined as it looks. The ride is admirably smooth, while the Quadra-Lift air suspension can improve ground clearance up to 10.9 inches, compared to the coil-sprung models’ 8.5 inches.
Twisting through the mountains, the L felt solid and composed, even with the extra length and weight. It’s no sports car, obviously, but the Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires did provide a decent amount of grip when I did try to hustle it a bit. The higher-end Grand Cherokees do get a Sport mode (Auto is the default), though it’s almost completely useless yoked to that V6 engine. If you’re just looking to pootle around that engine is fine, but seriously…if you want something more satisfying and peppier, get the V8! (Not to mention the V8 also sounds better.)
Verdict: If you need an everything-capable family rig, this is it
The Jeep Grand Cherokee built a reputation over the past three decades as a capable SUV that’s at home both on and off the beaten track. This latest generation broadens its appeal with the three-row L and more luxurious appointments than ever before, and it certainly proved its well-rounded nature on my long-haul road trip. I didn’t take the opportunity to seriously go off-road, though you can see how it does in that element over on TFLoffroad (or check out the video below).
If you’re shopping the three-row market and want something that leans more toward on-road driving dynamics or sheer practicality, there are other options also worth considering. We’ve made no secret of our admiration for the Kia Telluride, while the Mazda CX-90 retains its crown as one of the best driver’s cars among family SUVs. Toyota is expanding its three-row offerings with the new Grand Highlander, and that model brings in a hybrid option that the Grand Cherokee L desperately needs.
Where the Grand Cherokee is really in its stride, though, is as a Swiss Army knife. This is still the SUV that does it all, though there’s no denying the WL has crossed the threshold into seriously expensive territory. For that reason, I’d strongly recommend shopping a mid-range trim like the $54,025 Limited for the best value and shift some of the money you’d otherwise spend on features toward getting the more potent drivetrain.
The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L packs an industry-standard warranty. With 3 years/36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, it’s nothing spectacular. That said, all new Jeeps do get three years of complimentary maintenance through the Jeep Wave program, so that should take some of the financial sting out of the ownership experience.