Jeep has celebrated its 80th anniversary this year with a message of optimism and promises of good things to come.
For the Grand Cherokee faithful, that didn’t mean a new, less controversial name, but the company introduced a new three-row Grand Cherokee L for ’21, and the SUV gets a plug-in option, the 4Xe, in early 2022.
But the focus is now rightfully on the more familiar two-row, gas-only model, which comfortably blends upscale on-road behavior with upgraded off-road chops.
The fifth-generation Grand Cherokee is handsome, with the new grille high on the list of noticeable changes. It’s wider and bigger now, with a design that hides sensors, including long-range radar, and active shutters.
Jeep didn’t change the proportions much for 2022, but the tweaks it made are all for the good. The roofline and beltline are both lower. The new Grand Cherokee has a 1.4-in. (36 mm) wider groove it
allowing for more shoulder and hip room inside with an overall width of 84.6 inches. (2,150 mm).
The SUV is 3.4 inches. (86 mm) longer than before, which breaks down to an additional 0.4 in. (10 mm) up front for cage requirements, 2.0 in. (51 mm) for the wheelbase (now 116.7 in. or 2,960 mm) and 1.0 in. (25 mm) in the rear for more cargo space.
There is an additional 6.0 cu-ft. (170 L) of rear cargo volume compared to the outgoing model, bringing total cargo space to 70.8 cubic feet. (2,004 L). All that in a vehicle that now weighs 250 lbs. (113 kg) lighter and adds 1.0 mpg (2.4 L/100 km) in fuel economy in some trims.
The ’22 Grand Cherokee retains the two engine options from last year. The standard powerplant is a 293-hp 3.6L V-6 while the upgrade is a 357-hp 5.7L V-8. Both use Stellanti’s 8-speed Torqueflight automatic transmission.
Overall, the Grand Cherokee offers plenty of physical buttons for both infotainment and off-road functions, and these upgrades are really what set the new SUV apart from its predecessors.
On the infotainment front, there is a new 10.25-in. (26 cm) front passenger touchscreen that can be used to watch Amazon Fire TV content, control any installed rear seat displays and send navigation
instructions to the center screen and the driver’s HUD.
The wireless integration between the car’s Uconnect 5 system and CarPlay is more seamless than any other automaker’s system I’ve used recently.
Especially in the upper trim levels, the new Grand Cherokee is enticing, offering massaging seats (try the Rock Climb massage mode) and a 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh premium sound system.
The high-end touches are welcome, but they won’t fool you into thinking you’re actually sitting in a luxury SUV. The V-6, while very powerful, gets loud and thin when pushed. You don’t feel the effort so much as hear it. But when the music is loud enough, the ’22 Grand Cherokee (image below) offers undeniable comfort, thanks to the Quadra-Lift air suspension and precise steering feel.
Standard safety features include full-speed collision warning with active braking and pedestrian-cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active lane keeping and advanced braking
Optional features include a new night vision camera with pedestrian and animal detection, a drowsy driver detection system and a new 360-degree front and rear surround camera
trays. These cameras are worth their weight in gold when testing the limits of the new approach and departure angle (36 and 30 degrees respectively).
The Grand Cherokee’s wider track makes the SUV more stable, and a new “virtual bullet” front suspension allowed Jeep to tailor each link to its function, whether it’s comfort or dynamics and performance. The rear movement was improved by a new 5-link rear suspension. Jeep also reconfigured the front end so that the axle shaft goes through the oil pan, resulting in an engine that is 1.6 inches. (40 mm) lower, improving vehicle dynamics.
thanks to the Quadra-Drive II 4WD system and swing-out clutch, the ’22 Grand Cherokee—especially in Trailhawk trim—is ready to leave the pavement behind at the touch of a button. Okay, some buttons.
To experience the SUV’s climbing skills, I recently took myself up and down steep hills on the outskirts of Moab, UT. To get the most out of the ride, we first switched on the Selec-Terrain’s rock mode and
put the vehicle in 4LO, turned off the sway bar and finally showed the front camera on the center screen.
With all these assistance features turned on and some helpful observers telling us where to line up our wheels, looking down on the city from a steep hillside didn’t feel risky.
For the return trip downhill, we engaged Selec-Speed Control, a sort of mountainous cruise control that can be set in 0.6 mph (1 km/h) increments. This keeps the SUV from careening uncontrollably toward the bottom, and it works extremely well.
The whole setup – all stock, mind you – is basically Rock Crawling For Dummies, and it really opens the door to safer off-road fun.
The ’22 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be available in the coming weeks. Pricing starts at $37,390 plus a $1,795 destination charge.