There are few things in this world better (and more American) than a road trip with your good friends. I’m sure you all – as car people – can at least somewhat agree with that opinion.
I’m here to tell you that there are few vehicles more up to the task of a road trip than the Jeep Grand Cherokee L. There’s only one real problem: you can’t park it anywhere.
I’ll get to that later, but first, let me tell you what I did with this beast of a vehicle over the weekend. I decided to take one of the biggest vehicles Stellantis makes on a road trip to the three largest cities on the east coast.
I started in New York City with my roommate and buddy Sarah. We then traversed our way down the New Jersey Turnpike (the best road in America) to pick up our friend Kelly in Philadelphia. From there we all drove to Washington, D.C. to visit my girlfriend Kara and her cat Clio. We spent the weekend enjoying ourselves at some of D.C.’s finest restaurants and checking out the Cherry blossoms. It was a great time. I recommend you get a significant other and good friends.
(Full Disclosure: Stellantis gave me a fully loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee L and a full tank of gas to use at my discretion for the weekend. Thank God for that tank of gas because otherwise I’d have spent a paycheck refueling.)
Here’s the thing about the Grand Cherokee L – it makes you feel like you’re the most important person on the road at any given moment. Maybe that’s because the car exudes American-ness, as we are the most important country according to ourselves. The GC L is American luxury done right, and is honestly the closest thing we have to a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham that we have on sale today – and I mean that in a very good way.
The first time I laid eyes on my Velvet-Red Pearlcoat Grand Cherokee L, my first thought was the meme “fucker looks badass, don’t it.” Indeed, it do. You can say whatever you want about the size, but the fact of the matter is that Jeep knows how to design a truck. It really just looks great. It’s got a bit of a masculine glare from the front that really just speaks to me. The wheel design, while busy, also just makes it look so upscale. It’s got just the right amount of chrome to look distinctly American, but not garish.
Distinctly American is certainly a recurring theme on the GC L. It’s luxury done the American way – big, comfy and who gives a shit about fuel economy or where to park it. It’s imposing and has a real road presence that you don’t get in a lot of other cars.
Going down the road makes you feel like a king – a king with a built-in back massager and three stage heated and cooled seats covered in the finest leathers a cow could hope to die for.
The American-ness continues once you’re inside the Grand Cherokee L, with the right amount of plasti-chrome to make any of us feel at home in it.
Fine leather and contrast stitching continues throughout – your shitty kids will love it. And so did my friends. They’re a more understated bunch than me, but even they could see and feel how nice the Grand Cherokee L is to look at and be inside of.
Adding to that – there is a ton of inside. Being an American car, it’s made for us big-boned Americans. The 6’1” of my body was able to sit comfortably behind well, myself, in both the second and third rows. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering how long it is. No – it’s not as long as a Tahoe, but it uses the space better. I can’t fit comfortably in the third row of one of those, but in this – it was no problem at all.
The theme of “fuck yeah, America” continues under the hood as well. Though, not in my particular test car.
There are currently two engines available for the Grand Cherokee L – the 290 horsepower Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 and a 375 horsepower Hemi 5.7-liter V8. There’s no reason to get the V8, as the V6 provides more than enough power for whatever you need to do with it, but you should still get the V8. It almost certainly fits this car’s character better.
Sure, you’ll get piss poor gas mileage, but who really cares? It’ll sound awesome.
Underneath is Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II 4x4 system with multiple modes depending on the terrain. Granted, I didn’t take this truck off road or really face any bad weather, but based on my prior experience with Jeeps I’m sure it’ll hold its own off the beaten path.
You know what a lot of people see when they think of Americans? Laziness. And Jeep clearly felt that way too – because they put in just about the best driver assist and safety suite I’ve ever used. If you wanna get real lazy behind the wheel, turn on radar cruise and lane keep, put one finger on the wheel and let Papa Stellantis do the rest.
As I said earlier, this is one big girl – and that means it can be a real bitch to find parking. Luckily, Jeep thought of that. The surround-view 360 camera makes parking a cinch even in the most crowded city center. Hell, you can even press a button and it’ll park for you. God bless America.
There isn’t much I don’t like about the Grand Cherokee L, but no car is perfect, so we have to examine a few of the issues I have.
I had some issues with the technology – especially screen lag time. A few times the center screen would stay blank on startup. I’d have to turn the car off and back on. Eventually it began working. Listen, if I’m tired, I can’t really blame the car for being tired as well.
I also had a one-time issue with the navigation screen appearing in the gauge cluster. This issue – of course – happened the one time I really didn’t know where I was going in Georgetown. For my entire 30-minute drive the gauge cluster just read “Navigation Data Loading” or something to that effect. Like I said, this only happened once – but it made me very upset.
I had a couple of issues with trim coming loose on the steering wheel… on a truck with fewer than 4,000 miles. But, what can ya do? It clearly wanted to Manifest Destiny away from the wheel.
My final niggle is similar to one I had with the Mazda CX-50. The material where your knee rests is hard plastic. Automakers, I beg you, please just put some soft padding there. It’s not that big of an ask.
So, what have we learned about the Grand Cherokee L?
Well, first of it, this baby was meant to cruise down the highway with as much shit and people as you can fit inside in absolute American comfort.
At over $67,000 as tested, it isn’t cheap, but there’s some good ol’ American value baked in. Load up one of the Germans like this and you’re pushing 100 grand. So, should you buy one?
Well, my main issue with the Grand Cherokee L is that it does nothing better than a Chrysler Pacifica. So, I’ll leave you with this – if you’re in the market for a Jeep Grand Cherokee L, buy a Chrysler Pacifica instead. I know you probably won’t, and honestly, I don’t think I would either.
And what’s more American than forgoing a good idea for the cooler one?