2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L vs 2021 Chevy Traverse

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  • 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

    A silver 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo is angled left.

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    2021 Chevy Traverse

    A silver 2021 Chevy Traverse LS is angled right.

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    357Max Horsepower (hp)310
    7,200Max Towing Capacity (lbs)5,000
    10.1Infotainment Screen (in)8

    Every day, a war is waging in the ultra-competitive midsize SUV segment, and the winner of this heated battle stands to gain a big chunk of the critical family vehicle demographic. When it comes to family-friendly SUVs, the battle lines are often drawn in two main categories: capability and space. Comparing the new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L vs 2021 Chevy Traverse has us asking, which vehicle deserves the spoils of victory?

    Both SUVs are American-made and contain plenty of technology to keep everyone entertained, as well as three rows of seats for all the kids and their friends. But what if Mom and Dad want a little more style to go along with all that practicality? And let's say Dad wants coolest car bragging rights at the ball field?

    Both the Grand Cherokee L and the Traverse offer great curb appeal and iconic, recognizable exterior styling. Each of these vehicles also boasts a robust trim lineup to give buyers more control over features and powertrain decisions. All's fair in love and war, however, so whichever vehicle buyers love most has the advantage.

    Which vehicle should you choose? Is a new Jeep Grand Cherokee L destined for your driveway, or does the 2021 Traverse deliver more of what you want and need in a people-moving SUV? We compare them here so that you can make the smartest choice for your family.

  • Performance

    A red 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is shown driving down a wet mountain road after winning the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L vs 2021 Chevy Traverse comparison.

    Five powerful words come to mind when we see a V8 Grand Cherokee L approaching: get out of the way. Power, performance, and Trail Rated capability headline the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, a stretched version of the beloved Grand Cherokee with three rows of seats. Some say it's about time this iconic vehicle gained a third row – we say good things come to those who wait.

    What about Chevy's popular 2021 Traverse? It also offers a three-row setup configurable for up to eight passengers, but buyers have to settle for a single engine option and dated styling. The Traverse is in year four of its second generation, which means it's nearly due for a redesign. Typically, the last couple of model years before a redesign tend to maintain a lower resale value, something buyers should consider.

    Let's look a little more closely at the all-important performance characteristics of each of these vehicles.

    2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

    The Grand Cherokee L is all-new for 2021, and the lineup includes two different powertrain options: a standard 3.6-liter V6 that makes 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque and a powerful 5.7-liter V8 that ups performance stats to 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.

    The reviewers at Car and Driver clocked the V8-equipped Grand Cherokee L's 0-60 speed at 6.4 seconds, which is pretty quick for an SUV that's a hair over 17 feet long. Speed isn't this vehicle's main performance attribute, though. Let's not forget, this is a Jeep. The Grand Cherokee L is Trail Rated, which means it's equipped to go over just about any terrain.

    What exactly is a Trail Rated Jeep? It's a trail-tested SUV that excels in five key areas: water fording, ground clearance, articulation, traction, and maneuverability. The Grand Cherokee L can ford up to 24 inches of water effortlessly and provides 10.9 inches of ground clearance. Traction, articulation, and maneuverability come by way of three available 4x4 systems.

    2021 Chevrolet Traverse

    The Traverse tries to hold its own in the areas of performance and capability but offers a limited range of powertrain options. Available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, the Traverse already falls behind the Grand Cherokee's rear-wheel drive and 4x4 options. It's powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that beats out the Grand Cherokee L's V6, making 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, it's the only engine available and comes up short compared to the Jeep's V8.

    The Drive Mode Selector includes four different settings: Front-Wheel Drive (for the best fuel economy), All-Wheel Drive (for added traction in slippery conditions), Off-Road (more traction to the rear wheels), and Tow/Haul (low-end torque for easy trailer handling). These settings automatically adjust gear ratios and traction to deliver optimal, condition-specific ride handling.

    The Traverse delivers enough power to tow up to 5,000 pounds, a specification that again falls far short of its competitor, the Grand Cherokee L, which can tow up to 7,200 pounds. Buyers looking to tow a boat or larger RV need to consider tow ratings carefully and will likely be disappointed by the Traverse's lack of a larger V8 engine alternative.

    One final point about capability when comparing these two vehicles: even novice drivers will quickly realize that the Traverse is not designed for serious off-roading: there's no Trail Rated badge here. If you want that kind of driving experience, the Grand Cherokee L is the only choice.

  • Options

    The interior and accent lighting is shown in a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

    One commonality these two vehicles share is the generous trim selection within each model lineup. The Grand Cherokee L is offered in six trims ranging in price from just below $40,000 on up to the mid $60,000 range. With that kind of price swing, variety is the keyword. No matter if your shopping list is headlined with capability or family-friendly luxury, you'll find it here.

    The Traverse one-ups its rival, with seven trims in the lineup ranging from just under $30,000 up to just over the $50,000 mark. You'll also find feature variety across the Traverse's trim range, but the features that differentiate one level from another are less defining. For example, the major difference between the base L and the LS is tinted rear windows and the addition of a Drive Mode Selector.

    What else is different? We take a closer look here.

    2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

    The Jeep lineup starts at the base Laredo trim. Offered in two and four-wheel drive, the Laredo isn't stingy on standard features. You'll find a standard 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Also standard is a pair of sliding second-row bucket seats that make accessing the third row easy. The standard LED headlights and taillights increase both visibility and the cool factor.

    Way at the other end of the trim range is the gorgeous and fully-loaded Summit Reserve. Even the pickiest luxury-oriented buyers will find refuge in this ultra-plush version of the Grand Cherokee L. It features buttery quilted Palermo leather seating, a segment-first 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh Audio System that was custom designed for the cabin's acoustics, and 21-inch aluminum wheels.

    If you're set on a rugged off-roader, consider the Overland, the most trail-ready trim. You'll find a Quadra-Lift Air Suspension and the option of adding the Off-Road Group package, which includes All-Season All-Terrain tires, an electronic limited-slip differential, and extra skid plates for the front suspension, fuel tank, and transfer case.

    2021 Chevy Traverse

    Chevy's base Traverse L is value-engineered for bargain-seeking buyers, which means it's easy on the wallet but comes with a short list of standard features. The L includes 18-inch wheels, cloth seats, and a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen. Also included are a 60/40 split third-row bench seat and automatic temperature control.

    Cruise up to the pricey High Country, and you'll find 20-inch wheels, a two-panel power sunroof, fog lamps, and a hands-free liftgate. Luxury abounds in the cabin, with a 10-speaker Bose audio system, an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, an HD Surround Vision camera system, heated seats in the front and rear, a heated steering wheel, and perforated leather seating.

    If sporty styling is what you're seeking, check out the Traverse RS. This trim is all about dramatic black exterior accents, including black badging (think black Chevy bowtie emblem) and roof-mounted side rails. In the cabin, the standard Convenience and Driver Confidence Package adds the larger 8-inch HD touchscreen with navigation, heated front seats, and a power liftgate, among other features. Of course, it still only comes with the standard Traverse V6, so its performance doesn't quite live up to its looks.

    The Traverse offers one more trim option than the Grand Cherokee L but doesn't offer the variety many buyers want. Within the Grand Cherokee L's lineup are specific trims for value, off-roading, and high-end luxury. Trim options aren't as clear cut on the Traverse. Plus, the high-end trims are not comparable; the Grand Cherokee L trounces the Traverse when it comes to standard luxury features.

  • Features

    A close up shows the headlight and DRL on a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

    New vehicle buyers looking for the latest and greatest tech won't be disappointed in the Grand Cherokee L. It offers an available 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen, significantly larger than the Traverse's largest option, an 8-inch screen. You'll find other high-tech features on the Grand Cherokee L that are absent on the Traverse.

    2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

    Jeep offers an Advanced ProTech Group IV package on select Grand Cherokee L trims. The package includes next-gen tech features like a head-up display, an interior rear-facing camera, and an advanced night vision camera that's designed to detect pedestrians and animals that enter your path.

    The available 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen runs on Uconnect 5, Jeep's most advanced operating system ever. It lets you create up to five user profiles, customize the home screen, and even has a setting for dual-phone connectivity. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are fast, easy, and cord-free.

    Take everything you know about in-cabin acoustics and throw it out, along with that ubiquitous Bose audio system you'll find in just about every other high-end SUV. Jeep turns up the volume with a unique 14-speaker McIntosh audio system with a 17-channel amplifier and 950 watts of bass-thumping power. The system is designed specifically for the Grand Cherokee L's cabin and produces true concert-grade sound.

    2021 Chevy Traverse

    Unfortunately, tech is where the 2021 Traverse really shows its age. Starting with the meager 7-inch touchscreen on lower-end trims and culminating in a so-so 8-inch screen for more expensive models, the infotainment offerings are below average. Navigation is available, though, which helps add some value.

    The best audio system is – you guessed it! – a 10-speaker Bose setup. It's plenty powerful but nowhere near as impressive as the custom McIntosh system found on the Grand Cherokee L. You also won't find any night vision cameras on the Traverse, though there is a Surround Vision camera that lets drivers display a bird's eye view of the area around the vehicle for easier maneuvering at low speeds.

    If it's luxury and tech you're seeking, there's really no contest. Head down to a Jeep dealer and choose a Grand Cherokee L. The Traverse is badly in need of a redesign, especially when it comes to connectivity and in-cabin technology.

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