2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L vs. Land Rover Defender and Kia Telluride: The 3-row SUV spectrum

The new, three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee competes with proper off-roaders and a long list of midsize SUVs. Here's how it stacks up with the best of the bunch.

Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Steven Ewing
3 min read
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L
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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

This is the first time the Grand Cherokee has had a third row of seats.


The has always been sort of a 'tweener among midsize SUVs . Until now, it never had a third row of seats, and despite its serious off-road chops, it couldn't really hang with the Toyota 4Runners or Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens of the world. The 2021 Grand Cherokee L, which made its debut Wednesday, now comes with a third row but keeps its off-road cred intact. Yet it still falls somewhere in the middle.

To illustrate that point, we'll take a look at how the Grand Cherokee L compares to the Land Rover Defender 110 and on paper. We picked the Defender because it's arguably the best off-road-focused three-row SUV around, and the Telluride is definitely our top pick among more mainstream midsize crossovers (see also: , Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, , Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas, etc.). As you'll see, the Grand Cherokee L stacks up nicely against both.

Watch this: Jeep shows off the three-row 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Powertrain and towing

The 2021 Grand Cherokee L can be had with either a 3.6-liter V8 or 5.7-liter V8 and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. Similarly, the Defender 110 also has two engine options, though they're smaller: a 2.0-liter turbo I4 or a 3.0-liter turbo I6 with mild-hybrid assist. Unlike the , though, the Defender only comes with four-wheel drive. The Telluride, meanwhile, can only be had with a 3.8-liter V6, and it offers front-wheel drive in addition to four-wheel drive. No matter the vehicle or engine, an eight-speed automatic is the only transmission you'll find in this group.

For the sake of leveling the playing field, we'll stick with the base engine options for the Grand Cherokee L and Defender 110. Interestingly, despite only having four cylinders, the turbocharged is not only the most powerful of the bunch, but has the highest towing capacity, too. Actually, the 2.0-liter Defender can even out-tow the V8-powered Jeep (7,200 pounds). Crazy.

Powertrain and towing

Jeep Grand Cherokee LLand Rover Defender 110Kia Telluride
Engine 3.6-liter V62.0-liter turbo I43.8-liter V6
Power 290 hp296 hp291 hp
Torque 257 lb.-ft.295 lb.-ft.262 lb.-ft.
Transmission 8-speed auto8-speed auto8-speed auto
Driveline RWD or 4WD4WDFWD or 4WD
Towing (max) 6,200 pounds8,200 pounds5,000 pounds

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L: Bigger, bolder, better

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Exterior dimensions

Jeep will eventually offer a five-passenger version of the new Grand Cherokee, but for now, we only have information about the L. It's a full foot longer than the current Grand Cherokee, and as you can see below, the Jeep is quite a bit longer than the Land Rover Defender and Kia Telluride.

Exterior dimensions

Jeep Grand Cherokee LLand Rover Defender 110Kia Telluride
Wheelbase 121.7 in.119.0 in.114.2 in.
Length 204.9 in.187.3 in.196.9 in.
Width 77.9 in.78.6 in.78.3 in.
Height 71.5 in.77.4 in.69.3 in.
Weight (base) 4,618 pounds4,815 pounds4,112 pounds

Interior dimensions

Stepping inside, the Grand Cherokee's added length doesn't immediately translate to more legroom for passengers. In fact, the shortest SUV of the group -- the Kia Telluride -- offers the most stretch-out room. SUV has the most cargo space, as well.

Interior dimensions

Jeep Grand Cherokee LLand Rover Defender 110Kia Telluride
Front headroom 39.8 in.40.6 in.39.5 in.
Front legroom 41.3 in.39.1 in.41.4 in.
2nd row headroom 39.9 in.40.4 in.40.2 in.
2nd row legroom 39.4 in.38.4 in.42.4 in.
3rd row headroom 37.3 in.40.7 in.38.1 in.
3rd row legroom 30.3 in.20.5 in.31.4 in.
Cargo capacity (max) 84.6 cu.-ft.69.0 cu.-ft.87.0 cu.-ft.

2020 Land Rover Defender 110: On-road luxury with off-road chops

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Off-road geometry

This section is more of a fight between the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Rover Defender. Rugged-looking as the Kia Telluride might be, it's not designed for real off-road use, and the numbers reflect that. That in mind, we'll let the Jeep and Land Rover flex their muscles a bit; the specs below are for models with the air suspension set to its maximum off-road height.

Off-road specs

Jeep Grand Cherokee LLand Rover Defender 110Kia Telluride
Ground clearance (max) 10.9 in.11.5 in.8.0 in.
Approach angle (max) 30.1 deg.38.0 deg.17.0 deg.
Departure angle (max) 23.6 deg.40.0 deg.20.9 deg.
Breakover angle (max) 22.6 deg.28.0 deg.NA

Interior technology

We haven't been able to poke around in the Grand Cherokee yet, but we've already had some experience with the Uconnect 5 infotainment system, and we know it's a winner. The Jeep offers this experience on a 10.1-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. Land Rover, meanwhile, packs the Defender with the often-finicky Pivi Pro system on a 10-inch display. The Kia Telluride comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, but a larger, 10.2-inch display can be optioned on higher trims.

2021 Kia Telluride: All-around excellence

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Jeep won't have pricing available for the 2021 Grand Cherokee L for a few more weeks. The current, five-passenger Jeep starts around $35,000, but given the added size and feature set of the new L, we're ballparking a base MSRP of about $40,000 for the longer variant. And hey, whaddaya know, that price puts it right between the Land Rover and Kia.


Jeep Grand Cherokee LLand Rover Defender 110Kia Telluride
Listed base price TBD$50,500$32,190
Destination charge TBD$1,350$1,225
Actual base price TBD$51,850$33,415