2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Review

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L - Jeep 'L' signifies additional seating


The mid-size five-door crossover continues attracting growing families in the Roaring 2020s in the same vain as station wagons during the 1960s and dual sliding side door minivans of the 1990s.

Jeep’s volume entry into this segment, the Grand Cherokee, underwent a next-generation effort in the 2022 model year welcoming aboard a notable upmarket interior among a host of comfort upgrades.

During its 80-plus years in business, the Jeep brands held cache as the go-to American-badged brand when hiking off-road trails on wheels. Why not add some interior posh to these outdoor circumstances with the many perks provided by Grand Cherokee.  

Size wise, the two-row Grand Cherokee slots between the long-running mid-size Cherokee and the relatively new, well-appointed full-size Wagoneer.  What’s more, Grand Cherokee added a super-sized version with additional length, introduced in the 2021 model year, marketed as the Grand Cherokee “L.”

The newly-minted ‘Grand Cherokee L,’ squeezes in an additional third seating row, one more than what’s historically found within Grand Cherokee’s confines while extending the vehicle’s overall length a notable 11 inches. The 2021 L intro marked the first time any Cherokee namesake accommodated more than five riders.  The wheelbase (distance between front and rear axle) grows by five inches. Mechanically speaking, both two and three row versions are virtually identical.

That means no matter the row content, two engine choice are available, a 290 horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 popular in other Jeep/Dodge products or a 357 horsepower 5.7-liter V-8. Both mate to a very smooth-shifting eight-speed TorqueFlight automatic transmission with either rear-wheel or 4 x 4 designates.  The electronic, dial style gear selector situates between front bucket with a red illuminated PRND indicator. The V-8 is optional only in upper Summit and Overland 4 x 4 trims.

In addition to Summit and Overland trims, the 2023 extended L adds two more trim choices, Laredo and Limited. The two-row Grand Cherokee offers seven choices. Jeep announced the discontinuation of the Belvidere-Illinois assembled conventional ‘Cherokee’ after the 2023 model year and after 49 years servicing the market.  For now, the massive production complex adjacent to Interstate 90 in Boone County sits idle eagerly awaiting its next assignment.

Grand Cherokee L nicely blends together off-road utility and on-road competence.  During the past quarter century, Grand Cherokee (and now the Grand Cherokee L) offered up a unibody platform allowing for smoother pavement travel.  Traditional, heavier body-on-fame underpinnings, popular in pickup trucks for decades, was the primary option of Jeep and other off-road toys until Grand Cherokee effectively bridged the gap, offering go-anywhere performance wrapped within a frame and body built as one unit.

Returning is a best-in-class ground clearance of 10.9 inches, welcome when off roading. Need more? Quadra-lift air suspension (standard in Overland and Summit) features air springs instead of conventional coil springs at each wheel delivering an extra level of clearance. While 10.9 inches of conventional clearance rates as substantial, during our week’s testing a frequent shot gun rider with limited mobility ably sauntered in and out of L with minimal snarls. Jeep provides plenty of headroom in all three rows even when sporting an available moonroof, known to sometimes steal away and compromise upward spaces.

As with any self-respecting Jeep, a seven-slot grille adorns upfront, although diminutive in size when stacked against the compact Wrangler. Wheel wheels include a trapezoidal shape with black composite materials protecting the wells and lower extremities. Dual lower backend exhausts come standard across all trims as does a gloss black liftgate spoiler with red brake lamp high atop. Only entry Laredo starts with a manual liftback, all others include a power lift standard. Strap-like door openers team with character lines running straight from tips of the narrow wrap-around headlight housing to tail light endpoints.

Updates within Cherokee L circa 2023 remain minimal with a larger 10.0-inch infotainment touchscreen and in-dash navigation now standard in Limited and Overland trims and nine-speaker Alpine audio system is a stand-alone option with Limited.  Overland and Summit models receive their own sound system perk with a 19-inch McIntosh system as a stand-alone option.

When choosing 4 x 4 underpinnings, three distinct behind-the-scenes systems are available: hassle-free, Quadra-Trac I with full-time, 50-50 torque split four-wheel drive (standard in Laredo and Limited), Quadra-Trac II with two-speed transfer case and variable front-rear torque split (with Overland models) or Quadra-Drive II, delivering torque to tires with traction when slippage gets detected (standard in Summit). The last two choices are designed for those seeking deep woods off-roading. All three equip with an active transfer case improving traction by summoning torque to work with the best-gripping wheel.

A big plus in Grand Cherokee L’s favor revolves around towing capabilities tops in its segment.  With the V-6 Expect a 6,200-pound maximum tow capacity with the V-6 and 7,200 pounds with the V-8A sizeable 23-gallon fuel tank includes a capless, self-sealing lead eliminating the need for plastic twist off caps. Fuel economy checks in average at best.

For those seeking more fuel friendly options, Jeep introduced the first ‘electrified’ Grand Cherokee version in 2022 with the Grand Cherokee 4xe, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sporting a water-sealed battery pack, two electric (traction) motors capable of 25 pure electric miles before the gas-inspired hybrid engine takes over.  This 4xe technology has yet to reach the extended L Grand Cherokee but can be had in Jeep’s compact Wrangler (four-door versions), which rates as America’s best-selling PHEV. The first all-electric Jeep, the compact Recon, is scheduled for production in 2024.

All of L’s potential off-road excitement comes at a cost; starting at $45,035 for our base Laredo 4 x 4 tester and by the time a well-equipped top trim Overland rolls around, expect to hand over $73,000 when dolled up.

Sporting premium velvet read Pearl-coat exterior paint ($495 extra), our V-6-powered Laredo also added a power sunroof ($1,440), $695 for rear load-leveling suspension and a $5,105 Altitude package (Capri-leatherette suede seats, heated front seats, power liftgate, heated steering wheel) for a $54,595 bottom line including a $1,795 destination charge.  

Buyers choose among a dozen option groups (although not every group teams with each of the four trims).

Versions of Jeep’s well-tested 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 powertrain also operate under hood of milder-mannered minivans and sharp sporty sedans carrying Dodge and Chrysler badging. Included with the price of admission, a start-stop function automatically quieting the engine at prolonged stops providing the V-6 with superior mile-per-gallon estimates (18 city, 25 highway) when stacked against the V-8.  

Grand Cherokee L weighs in as one of the heftiest segment choices.  If primarily carting loads of kids and/or loads of loads, the V-8’s the pick to click if budgets allow.  Those nostalgic for eight thundering pistons should order up before they’re gone as large V-8’s are predicted to exit first before smaller internal combustion engines (the V-6’s and I-4’s) eventually fade into history.  

Smartly, Grand Cherokee’s L’s third row builds for two riders and adults can enjoy this comfort zone thanks to well-designed head and leg room. These rearward seats power fold in Overland and Summit trims while manually operated in the lower two with pull-straps mounted backside of the 50/50 split.  Row two comes standard with a pair palatial captain’s chairs with an easily workable manual tilt-and-slide function assisting third-row access.  Optional, a 60/40 split bench adding $750 to the bottom line.  Large rear side doors offer swing open wide offering up plenty of room to maneuver into either row two or three.

The all-digital, customizable, eye-pleasing 10.25-inch full-color instrument panel comes standard across the board. Three layout choices select from a front button at the 9 o’clock hour of the three-spoke steering wheel face. Conveniently, the steering wheel’s back side includes easy-play tactile toggle buttons summoning station pre-set and volume selections, part of Jeep’s U-connect.

All L trims return with Jeep’s fifth-generation U-connect promising five times faster processing speed and sharper graphics than previous generations.  Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Smartphone compatibility come standard and pair up with the standard, medium-sized 8.4-inch screen with the top side tilting slightly back within the dash. Two different-sized USB ports (Type A and C), accessible in all three rows, keep all types of Smartphone technology plugged and ready. Wireless charging is available up front.

On top of the screen are a half dozen push buttons to manually disengage some safety features if desired (including the engine start-stop function) and hazard lights. A pair of narrow horizontal air vents top these buttons with an additional vent at each end of the dash.

Under the screen, push-style tabs monitor fan speed and front dual zone temperatures while push plates handle fan direction. The electronic push ignition start-stop button resides on the dash left of the steering column.

Upon the L’s next generation two years ago, a host of new standard radar-sensitive safety nuances arrived onboard. One optional perk, Jeep’s effective night vision camera available on Summit and Overland trims, utilizes infrared sensors detecting heat signatures of pedestrians and animals up to 220 yards away.  It’s handy during fall when over stimulated bucks too often veer onto the open roads.  The antics display through the instrument panel with ghost-like representation. While not offered in Laredo, it’s been tried during prior evaluations and worth consideration as it’s effective within rear-world situations.

Of note to shot-gun travelers is a sizeable 10.25-inch touch screen above the glove box allowing for alone screen time. It’s optional within Limited, Summit and Overland trims.

All 2023 model year Grand Cherokees Ls qualify the ‘Jeep Wave,’ a non-transferable extended maintenance program cleverly playing off a popular hand gesture Jeep owners have politely exchanged with one another over the years when on or off road.  Included in this owner loyalty program is a 24-hour hot line for questions regarding Grand Cherokee along with trip interruption coverage if Grand Cherokee needs extensive repair 100 miles or more from home (lodging, meals, etc.).  

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo L

Price as tested: $54,565
Wheelbase:   121.7 inches
Length:  204.9 inches
Width:  77.9 inches
Height: 71.5
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6
Horsepower:  290
Powertrain warranty:  Five-years/60,000 miles
City/Highway economy: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway
Assembly:  Detroit, Michigan

Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.