The Grand Cherokee L goes up against the Nissan Pathfinder and the Volkswagen Atlas. Of these three-row SUVs, the Grand Cherokee L is the most rugged.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder SL 4WD vs. 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited vs. 2022 Volkswagen Atlas SEL 4Motion: “Bargain” three-row SUV competition.
This week: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited.
Price: $52,685 as tested. Luxury Tech Group II added $2,795 for Capri leather seats, a bevy of driver assists, ventilated front seats, memory tilt/ telescoping steering, wireless charging, and more. Sunroof added $1,795.
Marketer’s pitch: “A legacy extended.”
Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the “tailored interior, spacious three-row layout, actually capable off road,” but not that it’s “more expensive than most rival SUVs, V-6 could be more refined, V-8 is a gas-guzzler.”
Reality: Tough enough for trails, but what about suburbia?
» READ MORE: 2022 Nissan Pathfinder: Mostly on track vs. two rivals
What’s new: Debuting in 2021, the Grand Cherokee L brings three rows of seating and stretches out a bit to accommodate them. It’s basically a Dodge Durango with a Jeep look.
Up to speed: Like the Durango, if you need to haul a lot of people or a lot of stuff in a hurry, this is the ticket.
The base engine — a 3.6-liter V-6 — delivers 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That will get you to 60 mph in 8 seconds, according to Car and Driver. While that’s not quick, the engine didn’t feel particularly sluggish, so it’s worth a test.
Buyers with more lead in their feet can choose the 5.7-liter V-8, adding 64 horses and 130 pound-feet, and they’ll have 1.9 seconds shaved off that acceleration time, according to Motor Trend. But they will want to skip ahead to the “Fuel Economy” section here.
Shifty: Everyone gets the 8-speed transmission. (You get an 8-speed. You get an 8-speed. And you get an 8-speed.) It works smoothly on the road, and shifting with the paddles also works simply.
I’m growing accustomed to the dial control, but I still don’t like it.
On the road: The Grand Cherokee L started out feeling bouncy and unwieldy, but like the Durango, quickly becomes easy to adjust to. Drivers are not looking to roar around the curves, but they won’t have to slow down all that much, either.
Still, the Grand Cherokee L hits rough patches hard, jostling driver and passengers.
Driver’s Seat: The perch of the Grand Cherokee L is comfortable and supportive. The Capri leather seats stood out even while just hopping inside for the first time.
The gauges are highly adjustable electronic displays with a wide variety of choices. The SUV arrived with a very minimalist setting chosen, offering just digital numbers and scant other information. A few clicks allowed me to switch to the analog speedometer and tachometer with the usual information choices in between. And wood trim on the dash adds a nice touch.
Like many SUVs, though, the large hood seems to sit up tall and makes seeing over the vehicle far too difficult.
Friends and stuff: The second-row captain’s chairs provide almost as much comfort as the front row but sit a little on the low side. Headroom and legroom are great, while foot room is a little snug.
They move fore and aft to create extra space for the rear.
The rear row provides decent headroom, but legroom is at a premium because the floor climbs higher and higher as the Grand Cherokee passengers scale into the back. There’s no room for feet under the second row seats, of course, so propping them out into the second row might be the only option.
Cargo space is 17.2 cubic feet behind the third row and 84.6 with everything folded down.
Properly equipped, the Grand Cherokee L can tow up to 7,200 pounds, which is a lot, higher than the Pathfinder’s 6,000 pounds and in a different category altogether from the Atlas’ 2,000.
Play some tunes: The Connect 5 stereo didn’t get off to a good start. CarPlay set right up but stopped soon thereafter and was not found again for a couple days. Even when I was able to access it, the process was never automatic as in almost every other vehicle.
I might have blamed my phone, but another problem appeared right away. Without access to my music library, I switched over to Sirius. While fishing around the dial, it locked in and kept scanning and scanning through hundreds of channels. I thought that was the plan, but I tapped the dial again, and we were back at my original station. Nope, it was stuck.
Fortunately, we worked well together after that, and the operation is fairly simple. Volume and tuning knobs help, although the black dials on a black background mean they disappear for aging eyes. The touchscreen works well, as touchscreens go.
On the bright side, sound from the system is clear with good reproduction, about an A-.
Keeping warm and cool: HVAC functions are available on the touchscreen, and many are replicated in buttons and toggles just below the radio. But they sit really low, face downward, are small, and are not intuitive. Decide before you drive.
Fuel economy: I averaged a piggish 18 mpg in a fairly sedate (for me) round of testing.
Where it’s built: Detroit.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the Grand Cherokee L reliability to be a 2 out of 5.
Coming in two weeks: 2022 Volkswagen Atlas.
Clarification: In last week’s Nissan Pathfinder review, the second-row console was mischaracterized. It actually removes for third-row access.