New SUV

Redesigned 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee gets beefy, adds tech, keeps engines

Jeep has redesigned the Jeep Grand Cherokee and added a new three-row Grand Cherokee L to its lineup.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is getting grander for the 2021 model year as part of a fifth-generation (WL) overhaul. Highlights of the redesign including an overhauled exterior and interior design, fresh technology, and the same engine availability as the 2020 model.

Jeep will offer the Grand Cherokee in two body styles: a two-row Grand Cherokee and a three-row Grand Cherokee L. The Grand Cherokee L, with its 6.9-inch longer wheelbase than the 2020 model, will go into production first with the two-row variant following by the end of the year barring any complications. The current two-row, fourth-generation Grand Cherokee will continue for the 2021 model year and a new two-row will be introduced at a later date, likely as a 2022 model.

Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Overland exterior The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve (left) and 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland (right).Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Grand Cherokee L will be offered in Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit trim levels. It is expected that the model will compete directly with the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and Chevrolet Traverse.

The new Grand Cherokee's looks are in line with the Wagoneer concept vehicle that was showcased in late-2020 and Jeep's team says that they were a bit inspired by the original Wagoneer. The comparison starts up front where the Grand Cherokee's take on the classic seven-slot Jeep grille shows off the width of the vehicle and is flanked by standard LED headlights and daytime running lights. The grille hides active shuttering and driver assistance and safety technology. LED fog lights sit low to illuminate the close-up road ahead.

A gloss black roof is standard on the Grand Cherokee L Overland and available on the Grand Cherokee L Summit. It slopes backward in Lincoln Aviator-like fashion toward blade-like horizontal taillights. The roof is accented by a wraparound chrome piece of trim and comes with a fresh roof rack design that has just one side rail cap.

The tailgate features vertical rear spoiler. Jeep has tucked the car's rearview camera with washer into the spoiler and added a LED center high-mounted stop lamp for additional visibility. An integrated tow hitch over and fascia-mounted exhaust tips are standard. Overland and Summit models come standard with a hands-free, foot-activated power liftgate.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve: Exterior

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Though it has a fancy new exterior, the Grand Cherokee L has Jeep's tried-and-true 4x4 systems, Quadra-Lift air suspension, and Selec-Terrain traction management system. The vehicle's new architecture is designed to work in tandem with the systems to deliver improved noise, vibration, and harshness to the cabin occupants without sacrificing capability.

The air suspension features five settings, each either raising or lowering the height of the vehicle to improve performance in a specific situation. The SUV's normal ride height is 8.3 inches. Off-road 1 lifts the vehicle an additional 1.6 inches to allow 9.9 inches of ground clearance. Off-road 2 goes further offering 2.4 inches of ground clearance over normal ride height and up to 24 inches of water fording depth. Park Mode lowers the vehicle 1.8 inches from its normal ride height while Aero Mode lowers the vehicle just 0.8 inches from its normal height. All modes are driver-controlled except Aero Mode, which happens automatically when in Sport Mode.

With the available Quadra-Lift air suspension, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L features a 30.1-degree approach angle, a 23.6-degree departure angle and 22.6-degree breakover angle.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland: Exterior

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Grand Cherokee L 4x4 also gets front axle disconnect. If the vehicle senses that road conditions do not require all-wheel drive, the front axle disconnect automatically places the Grand Cherokee L in two-wheel drive, reducing drag on the driveline and improving fuel economy. Four-wheel drive automatically re-engages when the vehicle senses it is needed.

Jeep's Selec-Terrain system offers five available terrain modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud/Sand) in the Grand Cherokee L. There's also hill descent control. An Off-Road Group Package is available that gives the Trail Rated Overland 4x4 model high-strength steel skid plates, an electronic limited slip differential rear axle, 18-inch aluminum wheels, and rugged, all-season performance tires.

The Grand Cherokee Limited and Laredo ride on 18-inch wheels while the Overland and Summit get standard 20-inchers. Adding the Summit Reserve Package to the model gives it 21-inch wheels. The 2021 Grand Cherokee L has a track that is 36 millimeters wider than the 2020 Grand Cherokee.

The doors of the model open wider in this generation than the last. They open 64 degrees with an ingress/egress exterior side step.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve: Interior Design

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Buyers can get their Grand Cherokee L with their choice of one of two offered powertrains, both of which are carryovers from the 2020 Grand Cherokee. The standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 delivers 290 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. It comes with a 6,200-pound towing capacity and has a range of 500 miles on a single tank of gas. The available 5.7-liter V8 engine gives drivers access to 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. It has a class-leading towing capacity of 7,200 pounds. The engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The interior of the Grand Cherokee L features design lines meant to emphasize the width of the SUV. The model's center stack features a 10.1-inch infotainment screen that runs Uconnect 5, FCA's latest operating system. In front of the driver is 10.25-inch frameless digital gauge cluster.

High-quality materials and technology give the Grand Cherokee L a premium look. Glossy piano black finish features on the console while a metal rotary shifter rests nearby, along with the Selec-Trac switches. The front bin can hold two wireless devices that can charge simultaneously. There are 12 USB Type A and Type C ports in the vehicle. Personalized ambient lighting solutions are available.

The Grand Cherokee Summit features open-pore Absolute Oak natural wood accents while the Summit Reserve Package adds open-pore Waxed Walnut. That's on top of the leather upholstery that comes in the trim level.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland: Seating & Cargo Areas

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Upscale Overland and Summit models get a length-adjustable cushion in the front row. First-row seats with power 16-way adjustable position with memory and lumbar are available on Overland and standard on Summit. Those two models also are available with back massage capability with five customizable profiles and three levels of configuration.

Heated seats in the first two rows, with three-level configurable controls for personalized passenger comfort, are standard on Limited models and above. Ventilated front-row seats are available on Limited and standard on Overland and Summit models. Ventilated seats in the second row and a suede-like headliner that wraps around the A-pillar come standard on the Summit Reserve Package.

The second row comes with standard "tip and slide" bucket seats and a bench seat is available. The standard seats offer seven inches of fore/aft travel. Child safety seats installed in the second row do not have to be removed to access the third row. The second-row seats also recline 18 degrees. The third-row seat features a 50/50 split

Small item storage and cup holders are available for third-row passengers. The model seats six or seven depending on the configuration.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland: Infotainment

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Four-zone automatic climate control is standard on Summit models and offers four different temperature settings. The location of the vents in the vehicle have been changed from the 2020 model to offer more precise heating and cooling.

Like the Wagoneer concept, the Grand Cherokee L comes with a McIntosh audio sound system. It's available in Overland and Summit models and comes standard with the Summit Reserve Package. It features a 17-channel amplifier with a maximum output of 950 watts and 19 speakers, including a 10-inch subwoofer, to envelope vehicle occupants in high-definition sound.

Overland and Summit models also come with a dual-pane sunroof with a power sunshade. It's available on the Grand Cherokee L Limited. The Laredo model features an available single-pane sunroof.

Rear cargo volume behind the second row is increased of there 2020 Grand Cherokee, which is no surprise given its longer wheelbase. Both the second- and third-row seats fold forward into a flat-load floor. When the second- and third-row seats are folded flat, the maximum cargo space is 84.6 cu. ft. There is a remote release to fold the second-row seats flat from the cargo area (standard on Overland and Summit). Overland and Summit models come standard with a hands-free, foot-activated power liftgate.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L offers more than 110 safety and security features. Buyers can equip their model with a host of driver assist technologies including adaptive cruise control, highway assist, night vision, drowsy driver detection, and speed limit traffic signs display. Hands-free driving capability is slated to arrive on the SUV for the 2022 model year, likely as a high-end add-on.

Jeep will make the Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L at its new Detroit Assembly Complex – Mack Plant in Detroit.

Pricing for the Grand Cherokee L is expected to start around $40,000. The Grand Cherokee will likely be priced lower while the Grand Cherokee 4xe version will probably carry a far higher price tag.

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The 2022 Lexus ES will debut next week.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The meat and potatoes of the Lexus sedan lineup, the ES, is due for a refresh, and it will get one. The 2022 Lexus ES will be shown publicly for the first time this Sunday as part of the festivities of the Shanghai auto show.

While the photo doesn't tell a lot, there's some things you can bet on in the 2022 ES. For starters, look for all the improvements that the auto has gotten over the last two years to carry over into the new model. That includes the addition of all-wheel drive to the lineup and standard blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The ES Black Line may not make its way to the 2022 version of the midsize sedan. Generally, blacked out editions are available only at the tail end of a model run ahead of a refresh or generational redesign. However, the blacked out elements could become available as part of a package.

The headlight photo that Lexus has offered as a teaser shows a housing that is not dissimilar to the one that the Lexus IS wears. However, the daytime running light is on the bottom here, instead off the top. Like the IS, there are strong hood lines.

At the back, the preview video shows a vehicle that is very similar to the current model. It's taillights, a strong chrome line that runs the width of the year, and rear lip spoiler all look mostly same as before.

As for what to expect underneath the body of the car, there's not a lot of indication from the teasers, which leads one to believe that's where the biggest changes are coming. There's a good chance that we'll finally say goodbye to the Lexus touch pad in favor of a touch screen display that's within a comfortable distance.

It's also likely that Lexus will fine tune the dynamics of the ES in a similar fashion to how the Lexus IS got more performance-focused driving dynamics in its latest redo.

Stay tuned for more specifics are the curtain is pulled back on April 19 in China (April 18 in the U.S.).

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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