The Jeep is built for long-haul travel

A long time ago, I dreamed about the Jeep Grand Cherokee L. I wanted a vehicle that could hold my children, our dogs, and all of our belongings – beach chairs and coolers, luggage and toys – and take us to the beach. To be together as a family and to enjoy those precious moments. To be free from the restrictions of hotels, airlines, or resorts.

Jeep finally introduced (finally!) a third row in the Grand Cherokee. The first Grand Cherokee to have a third-row seat is the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Stands for long… meaning that the wheelbase and the body are longer, making it more spacious and comfortable for everyone, but especially for those in the third row. The modern Jeep is more refined and elegant, both inside and outside. It’s still the rugged Jeep that we love.

Testing the Jeep Grand Cherokee L: Long Hauling with Dogs, Kids and Stuff

On a long-awaited vacation, we had the chance to put the Jeep Grand Cherokee L to the test. The model we tested was priced at $64,000, but the starting price is $38,000. We wanted to spend time together. We planned a road trip based on weather predictions, followed the results of the family activity vote, and made last-minute decisions. You can’t do everything when hotels, flights, and car rentals restrict your travels. Jeep’s new advertising campaign calls it “Freedom,” and it is true. But it goes further than that. Jeep Grand Cherokee L allows you to take everyone and everything with you.

What does freedom look like in reality? The Jeep Grand Cherokee L impressed me in many ways: its space, elegant design, new UConnect 5 multimedia system, and ease of driving. The off-road experience is also fantastic. It’s at its core a Jeep, and it delivers all the Jeep promises.

While it is impressive that this vehicle can travel almost anywhere off-road that the Wrangler could, we need 4WD for the everyday good and bad. Winter snowstorms, rutted drives, and sandy beaches are all examples.

Family Time with the Jeep Grand Cherokee: Teens, Dogs, and Gear

The Summit Edition that we drove in our week-long experience with the Jeep Grand Cherokee L was ideal for families who have teens but occasionally need to add a third seat for grandparents or friends. The third row folded flat and was very spacious for our luggage. It’s actually so big that we could fit all our luggage, beach chairs, and totes, as well as groceries, in it and still have plenty of visibility through the rear window. This is something I appreciate, particularly when stopping, backing up, turning, and merging onto unfamiliar roads.

The McIntosh Premium Sound System, the captain’s seats in the middle row, and the panoramic roof are all features that our daughters loved. The girls put together a playlist that we could all enjoy. They also took a nap, stretched out, and enjoyed the open, airy interior.

Can this third row really accommodate passengers? What about car seats

We went on a side trip to visit my cousin Cory, who has two little kids who need car seats. He wanted the children to be in the third seat so that he and Paola, his wife, could sit more comfortably in the center row. I didn’t really think it was a good idea. Would the car seats be difficult to install? Can the children get up to the third row on their own? What about the harnesses?

It turns out that he was right. He installed the car seats for the children and secured them with the rear tethers. (There are no LATCH anchors on the third row, so they were attached using the seat belts. Cory was able to easily verify that the kids buckled their harnesses after climbing into the third row. The rear-view mirror allowed me to see their adorable faces. Their car seats and the extra height provided by the third row made them look like they were on stage. Thanks to the speaker system, I was able to chat with them and clearly see their faces. I initially doubted that a family of three children could use the third row on a regular basis if they were still in car seats. But now I am sure it will work. One piece of advice that I can give is to avoid the middle console in the center row, which was an option installed on our test vehicle. The pass-through makes it easier to get into the third row.

A Third Row for Big Kids

How was the third row for taller passengers? It’s okay for me. It was easy to get in and out with plenty of leg and headroom. The third row can be accessed via the tab on the shoulder of the middle seat. It can be used to tilt and slide the seat forward, position the middle seat after you are in the car, and move it again to exit. Third-row passengers also have cup holders that are large enough to fit a phone or water bottle. There are four USB ports on the sides (one USB C port and two standard ports), as well as climate vents. Overall, the third row is well-designed.

A Bigger, Overland-able Vehicle That Is Not Oversized

The Jeep Grand Cherokee L may be big, but not enormous. It’s not as big and, for normal driving, isn’t as tall when compared to other full-size SUVs. It has an air suspension that you can use to increase the height when needed, as we did on our trip to the beach. I loved that I could park in almost any parking space, and on the road, it had a lot of visibility–including forward and rear-facing cameras that we could access while driving.

We drove the Jeep Grand Cherokee L on St. Augustine Beach. This is a beach where cars are allowed, but 4×4 capabilities are recommended. The sand can be soft and deep, and vehicles may get stuck. On the sand that is hard-packed closer to the beach, only pedestrians are permitted.

The deep ruts left behind by SUVs and trucks that passed through on that particular day made me think that I may need to switch the Jeep Grand Cherokee L to 4 low. First, I set the suspension to the next highest setting so that we had plenty of clearance to get over the ruts. Then I drove in Auto mode, which is a full-time four-wheel drive that adapts to road conditions. It was fantastic. I did not feel any wheel slip or the heart-wrenching lack of traction, which triggers your deepest fear of getting stuck. The Jeep Grand Cherokee L had complete control.