The Jeep name may be most commonly associated with rugged off-roaders, but the Grand Cherokee L is a genuine luxury vehicle.

When you hear the name Jeep, your mind probably drifts instantly to an old Willys MB bouncing over bumps in black and white, or perhaps a heavily modified Wrangler rock crawling in Moab. What you probably aren’t expecting when you hear that name, however, is a vehicle angling to be a Range Rover Sport rival.

Yet, that’s exactly what Jeep is aiming for with this, the 2023 Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve. It might feature the iconic vertical bars on its grille, this is everything a Wrangler isn’t – luxurious, refined, and thoroughly leather-lined. Mind you, at a cost of $115,950 before on-road costs, you’d better hope it’s all of those things and more.

Certainly, it looks the part of a six-figure SUV to my eyes, with its boxy yet classy styling being right on the money for what’s in vogue at the moment. The extra length of the Grand Cherokee L gives it an even more regal look than the standard shorter-body model as well.

This range-topping Summit Reserve variant comes riding on 21-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, while its five-position air suspension system allows you to get it sitting nice and low down on them or jacked all the way up for tackling the sort of off-roading you’d expect a Jeep to be able to.

It’s on the inside where it really flexes its luxury car chops, though, with quilted caramel Palermo leather lining the majority of the cabin, while some sections of black leather and wood trimming offset it perfectly. Just about every surface you touch feels genuinely high quality and for the most part, befitting of the price tag.

The features list is about as long as the Grand Cherokee L’s body, with just about everything you would think to put in a luxury car and even some things you wouldn’t think of. Heated and ventilated front and rear seats with a five-program massage function for the front, a heated steering wheel, four-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, two-tone multi-colour ambient interior lighting, and a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system are among the more obvious ones.

Less obvious inclusions, however, are items like the surprisingly brilliant night vision camera which is primarily for detecting pedestrians or animals on the road at night. Another surprising inclusion is there being a second touchscreen ahead of the front passenger alongside the one in the centre of the dashboard. It’s polarised so that it’s not visible to the driver, preventing any distractions, and the HDMI input for it allows you to connect it to a laptop to watch movies or even play games on a long drive. Do note, though, that both of these features are part of the optional $5500 Advanced Technology Group which also adds a head-up display and wireless phone charger.

Speaking of the infotainment tech, it’s running Stellantis’ Uconnect 5 software on the central 8.4-inch display which is a really good operating system. With crisp graphics, good responsiveness, plenty of off-road information displays, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a 360-degree camera, it’s slick and straightforward to use. There’s a good array of customisability both on the central screen and in the 10.25-inch instrument cluster, too.

Interior space is excellent with plenty of room to stretch out in the first and second rows, while as with most three-row SUVs, the third-row will be best kept to occasional use by your kids or their friends. The boot is absolutely massive with 487 litres even with the third-row in place – more than some mid-size SUVs offer at most – while that expands to 1328 litres with the rearmost seats stowed away and 2395 litres with the second-row folded down as well. Additionally, all variants can tow up to 2813kg braked.

READ MORE: The Jeep Wrangler may have its compromises, but it’s the epitome of automotive joy

Powering all Grand Cherokee L variants is the 3.6-litre ‘Pentastar’ naturally aspirated V6 petrol engine which produces 210kW at 6400rpm and 344Nm at 4000rpm – quite frankly meagre outputs for a vehicle of this size. The standard Grand Cherokee has recently added a 2.0-litre turbo plug-in hybrid drivetrain which nearly doubles that torque figure, but it’s off limits for this long wheelbase model.

At least the V6 in this is backed by the dependable ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II active 4×4 system which also adds the Selec-Terrain array of drive modes and, unlike in lower-grade variants, a dual-range transfer case.

While the Pentastar does make a decent enough noise and is a very smooth engine, its performance is certainly limited in this 2270kg barge. There’s at least enough torque for it to not feel sluggish off the line, but the faster you go and harder you push it, the more out of breath it feels. It might be fine in other models in the company’s lineup, but in a vehicle pitching itself as highly as this does, it does feel out of place. However, at least the low-range gearing does help it feel perfectly apt off-road like in the many other Jeep models in which it features.

At least what it lacks in performance it makes up for with the rest of its on-road dynamics, with the Quadra-Lift air suspension system giving the Grand Cherokee L a beautifully smooth and well-cushioned ride. On city streets or at a highway cruise where the engine isn’t being called upon too much, this is where it feels its most luxurious.

The air suspension also affords it decent enough handling credentials. Given its size, no one was ever expecting it to feel especially nimble or sporty, but it strikes a similar sort of balance between respectable handling and supple ride quality that a Range Rover Sport would. Think light but direct-enough steering, a wafty yet composed feeling on the road, and a definite sense of presence at all times.

While I didn’t pit it against any particularly challenging off-road tracks, it does feel confident on loose gravel tracks with its full-time four-wheel drive system delivering the sort of grip that’s to be expected from a Jeep. With the air suspension in its highest position it offers some serious ground clearance as well – 276mm no less – meaning it can handle more off-road work than you’d expect, although given its length a Wrangler will still be your best bet if off-road ability is a priority.

Unfortunately, performance isn’t the only area the Grand Cherokee’s V6 lets it down, as fuel economy is as well. Over my extensive 1007km of testing, I only managed to average 12.4L/100km – a noticeable increase over its already poor 10.6L/100km claim. At least it does come with a 104-litre fuel tank as standard to give it decent range per tank, though.

All Jeep models are covered by a five-year/100,000km warranty which does meet the industry standard in terms of time, although most companies do offer unlimited kilometre warranties now. However, Jeep does also offer complimentary roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty which is then extended every 12 months so long as you service it with a Jeep dealer.

Servicing is required every 12 months/12,000km – a slightly shorter interval than you may expect – with pricing capped to $399 for each of the first five services for all WL Grand Cherokee variants.

Truthfully, I was incredibly surprised by the Grand Cherokee L – both when I saw the initial launch pictures in 2022, and then when I got to drive it for this review. Not only is it a handsome vehicle with a distinctive presence, it’s also got the substance to back it up.

With high quality interior materials, a well-equipped and tech-savvy cabin, and a refined yet capable ride, it’s an impressive vehicle. It is hamstrung by a lethargic engine – it really could do with the plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the US-only V8 HEMI, or the long-rumoured twin-turbo straight-six to give it the oomph it deserves – but beyond it, it feels pleasant to drive.

The only thing I’m unsure about is how many people will be prepared to splurge $115k on a Jeep rather than something with a more luxurious badge. Those who do take a chance on it, though, I think will be pleasantly surprised.

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve List Price: $115,950 | As Tested: $121,450
  • 7/10
    Performance - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Ride & Handling - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Tech & Features - 9/10
  • 8.5/10
    Practicality - 8.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Value for Money - 7.5/10

Pros: Luxurious and feature-packed interior, handsome styling, capable and comfortable ride, still offers the off-road capability you’d expect from a Jeep
Cons: Lethargic atmo V6 engine feels out of place in a luxury vehicle this size, it loves a drink a bit too much, the price tag and badge may put some buyers off

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Jeep Australia for 12 days with a full tank of fuel. All additional fuel expenses were covered by the author.

Patrick Jackson
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