If you’re initially confused between the Grand Cherokee L and Wagoneer (both Grand and not), we don’t blame you. They are distinguishable side-by-each – but separately? Not so much. Think of it this way: The GCL is a unibody design with V6 and V8 options while the Wago is body-on-frame and has two V8 choices.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L was put through its First Drive paces on this site just a month ago. With that top-tier entrée having settled nicely, it is time to paw through the chaff six different trim levels and figure out which one makes for The Right Spec.
We’ll start with the opinion that any machine bearing the Jeep badge should have power going to all four wheels. This choice doesn’t limit us from any of the six trims on offer but it does bump the price of entry to just over 40 grand. While your author recognizes the only off-road driving the vast majority of these rigs will experience is that patch of broken pavement at the mall, he still firmly believes in the value of a two-speed transfer case and a limited-slip rear diff.
These requirements put us in league with the Quadra-Trac II system, first appearing on Grand Cherokee L in the pricey Overland trim. Even then, gaining ownership of a locking diff requires a $1,995 Off-Road Group. In addition to the diff, skid plates pepper the underside, and 18-inch on/off-road 265/60 rubber replaces the pretentious 20-inch dubs. I’ll note right here and now that tasty BFGoodrich KO2 tires are available in this size, making me probably the only person on Earth who’d gladly mount aggressive all-terrain rubber on a $60,000 luxury SUV. Hey, they’ll make good use of the Overland’s Quadra-Lift air suspension which includes a tip-toe setting. So equipped it’ll ford 24 inches of water.
Speaking of decisions, the Grand Cherokee L has me in a quandary. The 5.7L V8 is a pricey $3,295 option and is down on power compared to its deployment in Ram pickups; just 357 horses are produced by the mill, 38 fewer than the truck; it gives up 20 lb-ft of torque as well. With the proven 3.6L V6 making near-as-makes-no-difference 300 horsepower, that’s the surprising recommendation from this particular peanut gallery.
Irritatingly, Jeep nickel-and-dimes the customer by charging extra for every single paint shade save for Bright White. The contrasting roof treatment doesn’t seem to fit the GCL’s image in these jaundiced eyes, so a monotone Velvet Red Pearl will have to suffice. And, as a bonus, some of the neighbors might mistake the thing for a bucks-deluxe Grand Wagoneer.
Creature comforts like a dual-pane panoramic moonroof and tri-zone climate control are standard at this price level, as they should be now that we’ve optioned the vehicle to $59,925. Perforated Nappa leather, heated second-row buckets, and a nine-speaker Alpine audio system are all present and accounted for. Infotainment is handled by a jumbo display packing all the communication and entertainment features you’d expect in this segment.
In this case, the Right Spec is definitely not the cheap spec. Whether that’s down to my own largesse or Jeep’s optimistic pricing choices is a debate we hope to see in the comments.
Please note the prices listed here are in Freedom dollars and currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.