We pit the new 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee against itself from 2021 to find out which one is worth your hard-earned money.
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It’s hard to find a vehicle that’s undergone quite as dramatic a change between generations as the current Jeep Grand Cherokee and the previous version from 2021. While the name and the badge on the front might be the same, these SUVs are dramatically different under the skin and inside of the cabin. Today, we’ll compare the two regarding pricing, performance, comfort, and features before crowning a winner. May the best Grand Cherokee win.
A 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee can still be found in new form if one knows where to look. Of course, pricing for a still-new Grand Cherokee from 2021 will likely be at or very close to MSRP. That dollar amount spans from about $37,000-$57,000 depending on options and trim level. In the used market, Grand Cherokees go for about $5,000 off of MSRP with around 10,000 miles on the odometer. More mileage typically means more of a discount.
Across a vast array of trims, the 2021 Grand Cherokee can be found with four different engines. Those include a base 3.6-liter V6 with 295 horsepower, an optional 5.7-liter V8 with 360 horsepower, and then two very special engines atop those first two. They include the 470 horsepower 6.4-liter V8 found in the Grand Cherokee SRT and the 707 horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8 found in the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. An eight-speed automatic is standard across all trims and engines. Four-wheel drive is standard on most trims but rear-wheel drive is standard on a few.
With so many powertrains on tap, it’s no wonder that fuel economy is a dramatically mixed bag. The Trackhawk for example gets an EPA-estimated 11 mpg in the city and 17 on the highway. The thriftiest of the bunch is the V6 paired with rear-wheel drive. In that configuration, the EPA says that owners can expect up to 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.
The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a very different SUV. For one thing, pricing starts at $42,830 and goes up to $78,870. Some dealer incentives will even see models going for less than MSRP which is rare these days.
Jeep builds the new Grand Cherokee with three different powertrains. The first is the same V6 as the old Jeep but with two fewer horsepower for a total of 293. Any Grand Cherokee with the V6 starts out as rear-wheel drive but 4WD is available.
Above that is a 2.0-liter plug-in hybrid engine with 375 horsepower. It’s dubbed the 4xe and comes with some all-electric range in addition to 470 lb-ft of torque on tap. At the top of the food chain is the same 5.7-liter V8 from the old Grand Cherokee but again, with less horsepower. Instead of 360 it now makes 357.
On the plus side, the Grand Cherokee is a dramatically more fuel-efficient machine on average. The V8 gets up to 14 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway says the EPA. Go for the V6 and it’ll hit up to 19 in town and 26 on the highway. The 4xe will get up to 23 mpg combined though and offer up to 26 miles of all-electric range.
Looking back at the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee it’s clear that this was the most refined SUV the brand made at the time. Its on-road manners are second-to-none in the lineup and its off-road prowess doesn’t suffer in the process. It was more capable than any generation of Grand Cherokee before it. That also goes for its ability to shred tires. Both the 6.4-liter SRT version and the absolutely batty Trackhawk with its Hellcat engine will hold their residual value for decades to come.
While the new 2023 version might lack the on-track ability of its forebearer, it puts a strong effort to move the brand forward with the 4xe. The base V6 and the 5.7-liter drive very similar in terms of power delivery. They’re both a smidge slower than we’d like but offer ample pulling and passing power when it’s needed.
Where the two models differ is in the category of handling. The new Grand Cherokee is simply sharper and modernized to a level that the outgoing generation can’t keep up with. Steering and pedal feedback is better too. On top of all of that, the 4xe drivetrain is actually pretty smooth and satisfying. It’s by far our favorite of the three.
The fourth generation Cherokee built atop its previous iterations with more interior luxury and a modernized appearance. That intention didn’t fully spill into the cabin itself though. The overarching design appears dated in our eyes. The center console for example features a very simple and basic layout no matter how much one might spend on the GC.
The infotainment system is smaller and the switchgear feels cheap and unsatisfying to use. Physical gauges are still present on each side of the cluster too. It’s not a horrible package mind you. The seats are supportive despite being somewhat drab to look at and the entire interior is easy to clean for the folks who will get this SUV dirty.
Slip into a 2023 Grand Cherokee and you won’t believe the difference though. To start with, there’s a lot more space. Early in 2021, Jeep released the Grand Cherokee L which was the first of the fifth generation Grand Cherokees to make it to production. They’re longer, get it? They’re more spacious from front to back but are otherwise unchanged from the normal Grand Cherokee. What’s important though is that even the normal GC has more interior space than the outgoing version.
Additionally, it’s far more comfortable, features a more modern design, and incorporates much nicer materials throughout. We also love little touches like a bevy of USB ports throughout the cabin, the updated driver aids, and the extra storage which is missing from the old GC.
If there’s anything beyond their badges and model names that these two SUVs have in common it’s an overabundance of trims. Let us break it down for you as succinctly as we can. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in no less than 11, yes eleven, different trims.
Laredo E – This GC gets the V6, rear-wheel drive, heated front seats, an 8.4-inch infotainment system, power locks, and more.
Laredo X – Get this trim and you’ll find integrated Android and Apple Connectivity along with black leather-trimmed seats with suede inserts.
Limited – This trim is a bit nicer thanks to an advanced Quadra-Trac II 4WD system, a sunroof, and a couple of extra USB ports.
80th Anniversary – Pick this trim for Black Nappa leather upholstery, Berber floor mats, and chrome exterior accents.
Limited X – A body-colored grille, 20-inch wheels, and darker taillights are the hallmark of this trim.
Trailhawk – This off-road-focused trim gets Quadra-Drive II and a limited-slip differential.
Overland – 20-inch wheels kick off this luxury-oriented trim. It also gets upgraded leather upholstery, an air suspension, and an upgraded sound system.
High Altitude – This rarified air trim is defined by adaptive cruise control, a panoramic sunroof, and park assist.
Summit – As the pinnacle of the normal GC range, this trim gets premium Laguna leather, a suede-like headliner, and a 19-speaker premium sound system.
Trackhawk – This trim is outfitted almost identically to the SRT except that it has a 707-hp engine under the hood.
The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee also comes in more trims than it needs to. The trims do feature better names though.
Laredo – This trim begins with 17-inch wheels, the V6, rear-wheel drive, six speakers, heated mirrors, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Altitude – Going for this trim nets buyers 20-inch wheels, gloss black exterior trim, heated front seats, a wireless charging pad, and a 115-volt household-style outlet.
Limited – This trim adds 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a 10.1-inch infotainment system, LED fog lights, heated rear seats, and a terrain-based drive mode system. The 4xe drivetrain is also available at this trim level.
Overland – Select this trim and you’ll get front tow hooks, a panoramic sunroof, ambient interior lighting, upgraded leather upholstery, a two-speed transfer case, ventilated front seats, a nine-speaker Alpine sound system, front parking sensors, and a hands-free tailgate. Just like the Limited, this trim can be combined with the hybrid drivetrain to make it a 4xe version.
Summit – Near the top trim you’ll get a gloss black roof, an active driving assist system, quad-zone automatic climate control, a front-seat massage system, a wood-trimmed steering wheel, a surround-view camera system, and a driver-attention warning. Again, the 4xe engine is available.
Trailhawk 4xe – Unlike any other trim, this one is only available with the 4xe plug-in hybrid engine and standard 4WD. It’s very capable thanks to all-terrain tires, front tow hooks, ventilated front seats, an adaptive air suspension, an electronically disconnecting stabilizer bar, an electronically limited slip differential, integrated navigation, and a nine-speaker Alpine sound system.
Summit Reserve – This top trim gets access to the hybrid motor too but also adds 21-inch wheels, open-pore wood trim, ventilated second-row seats, a 10.25-inch passenger touchscreen, a 19-speaker sound system, and a faux suede headliner.
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While we appreciate the stepping stone that the fourth-gen Grand Cherokee was, it’s simply not cheap enough yet to justify buying over a brand-new GC. The latest edition is packed full of better technology, nicer materials, and more space. It’s the clear winner through and through… unless you want to go to the local race track with your Jeep.