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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Choosing the Right Trim

The Grand Cherokee is Jeep’s proven 5-passenger midsize SUV. It’s the standard by which many other midsize SUVs are measured. The Grand Cherokee is available with 6-cylinder or powerful V8 powertrains. For most buyers, the standard 6-cylinder provides plenty of power. The V8 models are potent—but also more expensive and consume more fuel.

Just about every model of Grand Cherokee comes standard with rear-wheel drive (RWD). So if you want that legendary Jeep 4-wheel-drive (4WD) capability, be prepared to pay extra. Of course, when optioned with the top equipment available, the Grand Cherokee can handle off-road excursions and tow trailers that weigh up to 7,200 lbs.

The Grand Cherokee is now in its 10th model year, and the 2021 model is offered in 11 trim levels. That’s a dizzying lineup of models. And within each one there are plenty of options, too. But that also helps make the Grand Cherokee a more versatile and capable SUV than much of the competition like the Ford Explorer or the GMC Acadia ( Pick the suitable model, and the Grand Cherokee can transform from commuter to 4WD trail machine to luxury SUV or even a high-performance hero.

The new 80th anniversary model is a special trim for this year with unique badging and accents. The Trailhawk is the one to choose if you want to explore off-road. The performance-tuned SRT (475 hp) or the downright outrageous 707-hp SRT Trackhawk are the hot rods. But unless you value all-out street performance over practicality, these two machines are too thirsty and expensive. The four below (Laredo, Limited, High Altitude, and Summit) represent the lion’s share of Grand Cherokees on the market.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (Starting at $34,395)

The base Laredo E Grand Cherokee is a lot of SUV for the money. The standard 285-hp 3.6-liter V6 is strong and comes paired to an 8-speed automatic. However, like most Grand Cherokee models, 4WD is optional here. And the Laredo’s default 4WD system is all-wheel drive without low range — and it costs $2,000.

This is a basic model but it still has 18-inch wheels, power windows and locks, dual-zone climate control with cabin air filtration, a carpeted cargo area with tie-downs and 12-volt power outlet, a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, dual USB ports, keyless entry, power heated mirrors, 8-way power driver’s seat, and a leather tilt and telescoping steering wheel.

There’s also a great standard suite of safety features in the ProTech 1 group that includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic, ParkSense rear parking assist, and a rear backup camera.

And you can build Grand Cherokee Laredo to be more comfortable and capable with an optional leather interior, Uconnect 8.4 infotainment display as well as the more capable 4-wheel-drive hardware.

The all-weather trail-rated package for $1,695 is a good value and brings heated seats, heated steering wheel, tow hooks, skid plates, the capable Quadra Trac II 4WD system with low range, and more. So for under $39,000, you have a no-frills Grand Cherokee that can handle dirty adventures.

At an out-the-door price of $34,395 financed at 3% over 60 months, you’ll have a payment of $590 per month. Find a Grand Cherokee Laredo for sale

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo includes:

• 8-speed automatic — more gears (speeds) means smoother, quicker acceleration and improved fuel efficiency.
• Blind-spot monitoring — lets the driver know if a car is hiding in your blind spot.
• Rear Cross Path Detection — alerts a backing driver when a car is nearing the rear of the car.
• 7-in touchscreen — easy to operate interface for infotainment functions.
• Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration — phone operations seamlessly controlled by the touchscreen.

Conclusion: A modest list of standard tech and safety features but missing the luxury and convenience touches that come standard on other trims.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited ($40,620)

The Limited is the model where many Grand Cherokee buyers gravitate. That’s because it’s the trim that offers much of the Grand Cherokee’s best equipment as standard. That includes the 8.4-inch touch screen, heated steering wheel, heated leather seats, power liftgate, power sunroof and Selec-Terrain traction management system. When 4WD is chosen ($2,000), you get the more capable Quadra Trac II system with low range.

The Limited X model is a black-out package for the Limited trim and adds 20-in gloss black wheels.

The list of options grows deeper with the Limited trim. It includes the powerful 5.7-liter V8, the most capable Quadra-Drive II off-road package with an electronic limited-slip rear axle, and the Quadra-Lift air suspension. In short, you can option a Limited to be nearly as plush and well-equipped as some of the more expensive models.

At an out-the-door price of $40,620 financed at 3% over 60 months, you’ll have a payment of $697 per month. Find a Grand Cherokee Limited for sale

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited includes:

• Power liftgate — makes opening and closing cargo hatch easier.
• 8.4-inch Uconnect — A more advanced infotainment system with a larger screen.
• Remote start — Starting the vehicle from the keyfob allows climate control to pre-condition the interior.
• Memory settings — allows functions like power seats and mirrors to be personalized for multiple drivers.
• Universal garage door opener — lets you program your garage door open/close functions into the Jeep.

Conclusion: This model is the best value in the line. It brings the most essential and valuable Grand Cherokee comfort and technology features.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Altitude ($50,105)

The High Altitude model delivers some of the most popular style, luxury, and tech features. However, it certainly isn’t inexpensive. There’s low-gloss Granite Crystal (dark gray) trim that replaces the chrome around the vehicle. And the High Altitude brings big 20-inch wheels in the same color — so the look of this Grand Cherokee is very trendy. Inside, Jeep offers black perforated heated and ventilated 8-way power driver and passenger Nappa leather seats and heated second-row seats. And there’s a dual-pane Command View sunroof, as well as an Alpine 9-speaker sound system.

On the tech front, the High Altitude delivers the Pro Tech II safety tech group as standard. This substantial grouping of safety tech includes forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, parallel and perpendicular park assist, and rain-sensing wipers.

Those that plan to tow will be happy to know that the trailer tow group IV comes standard on the High Altitude

At an out-the-door price of $50,105 financed at 3% over 60 months, you’ll have a payment of $860 per month. Find a Grand Cherokee High Altitude for sale

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Altitude includes:

• Trailer to group IV – delivers the hardware and electronics to handle a trailer at the maximum tow capacity safely.
• Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking — warns of a potential collision and will automatically apply the brakes.
• 20-inch wheels — look stylish; however the short tire sidewall could make the ride stiffer.
• Lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist — senses if you drift outside the lane and will automatically nudge the steering wheel to maintain the intended path.
• Ventilated seats — use a fan inside the seats to blow air through the seat perforations and keep you cool.

Conclusion: The High Altitude model delivers many of the luxury and advanced safety features to the Grand Cherokee and wraps it in a modern look.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit ($53,510)

As the name implies, the Summit is the top Grand Cherokee when it comes to luxury and upscale features. The Summit is the one to choose if you might be cross-shopping SUVs from Mercedes-Benz or BMW. It’s probably not the one to select if you intend to really test the Grand Cherokee’s off-road capability. As plush as the Summit is, it’s also expensive. Buyers could save some money and option “up” one of the lower-priced trims.

The Summit comes with heated and ventilated seats covered in Natura Plus leather. There’s also a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon high-performance audio system, illuminated sill plates, the Pro Tech II safety tech group (see High Altitude), a standard Quadra-lift air suspension, headlamp washers, Bi-xenon HID headlamps and foglamps, power-folding heated outside mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

At an out-the-door price of $53,510 financed at 3% over 60 months, you’ll have a payment of $918 per month. Find a Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit for sale

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit includes:

• Quadra-Lift air suspension — multi-height, automatic load-leveling suspension increases ground clearance for off-roading and can add stability and ease of hitching when trailering.
• Bi-xenon HID lights—last longer and deliver a brighter and whiter headlight pattern.
• Power tilt and telescope wheel — use electric motors to adjust the steering wheel for distance and height. It’s tied into the memory functions with the seats and mirrors, too.
• Rain-sensing wipers — detect water droplets on the windshield and will automatically turn the wipers on. Be sure to turn them off when heading into a carwash.
• Power-folding mirrors — mirrors fold in when the car is locked, protecting them when you park on tight streets.

Conclusion: The Summit is the ultimate luxury Grand Cherokee offering the most comprehensive list of standard equipment in the line. The only options that add more plushness are an even more opulent leather interior for close to $5,000 and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system for $1,995

Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart is an author specializing in automotive testing and technology. He has a unique perspective—as a lifelong 4WD enthusiast Ben has driven just about every production 4X4 on road and off for the last 20 years. But his expertise and experience goes deeper. Ben has had the opportunity to drive and report on a wide variety of vehicles ranging from pre-production fuel cell cars to... Read More about Ben Stewart

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