2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe PHEV offers limited benefits

Jeep introduced its 4xe hybrid driveline last year in the Wrangler, and although Jeep will not reveal the Wrangler 4xe sales figures, it claims that the model was the best-selling plug-in hybrid in 2021. That would mean beating out PHEVs including the Toyota RAV4 Prime (27,000 units) and Prius Prime (25,000), and that better than 13 percent of the more than 204,000 Wranglers sold last year were PHEV. Given that reception, it must have seemed like a no-brainer to apply the 4xe treatment to the brand’s bestseller, the Grand Cherokee. For Grand Cherokee buyers, however, the decision to step up to the plug-in hybrid is not so obvious.

Exclusive to the two-row version, the Grand Cherokee 4xe uses the same plug-in hybrid driveline as the Wrangler. A 270-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine with 295-pound-feet of torque is assisted by a belt-driven 44-hp engine and another 134-hp electric motor that replaces the eight-speed automatic transmission’s torque converter. The combined power is 375 horsepower with 470 lb-ft of torque. These figures are higher than 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft from the 5.7-liter V-8, but only as long as the 14.0 kWh lithium-ion battery (CD-appreciated useful capacity) has enough juice to contribute.

In the Wrangler, we noted the rocky transitions of this driveline between gas and electric propulsion, although they were somewhat lost in the middle of the Wrangler’s general cacophony and numb, vague chassis. In the much more polished Grand Cherokee, the driveline’s hesitation and its abrupt transitions emerge. Flatten the accelerator pedal and there will be a marked delay before any actual movement. We also could not top up noticeable EV range when we were in hybrid mode, but we could charge some of the battery when we drove in eSave, a mode that only uses power from the gas engine.

We found that the gas engine – which is not completely sealable in any of the three driveline positions – is always eager to take over. Of course, full throttle lights up the engine, but gentler driving can too. During our drive in Austin, Texas, our speed dropped from about 33 to 26 mph as we climbed an ascent in electric mode, and the four-cylinder woke up and interrupted an otherwise quiet drive. The powerful four-cylinder turbo has enough torque to get things moving despite Jeep’s claim that the Grand Cherokee 4xe weighs about 500 pounds more than the V-8 models.

This Grand Cherokee claims 26 miles EV range. If your commute is about 10 miles each way, you never lower the accelerator pedal, you pack your own sandwich for lunch and you plug the Grand Cherokee 4xe into a level 2 charger overnight, you can theoretically drive 4xe like an electric car. But the most likely application for 4xe’s battery-powered driving ability would be to drive quietly to the bathrooms at the other end of a campsite or to make a quiet escape from the parents’ house on a school night.

Driving in hybrid mode is most meaningful in almost all applications, and reaping the fuel-saving benefits of this driveline will require vigilant charging at home. (Jeep says it takes two to three hours to recharge the battery with a 240-volt source.) The EPA’s combined rating is 56 MPGe, which is slightly better than the Wrangler’s 49 MPGe (although the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe we tested with this driveline returned only 16 MPGe). After the battery is discharged, the Grand Cherokee 4xe EPA-rated 23 mpg combined, which is only 1 mpg more than four-wheel drive V-6 models.

Competing plug-in hybrid SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are better at being PHEVs, with their higher fuel economy ratings and greater EV range. Santa Fe, for example, returns 76 MPGe or 33 mpg and is good for 31 miles of electric range. For Sorento, these figures are 79 MPGe, 34 mpg and 32 miles. However, the beefier Grand Cherokee 4xe is a better SUV, with an impressive towing capacity of 6,000 pounds, which among PHEVs is second to the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid’s limit of 7716 pounds. And its off-road advantage over more fuel-efficient crossovers is as fair as Moab’s Hells Gate.

The Grand Cherokee 4xe starts at $ 57,660, about $ 15,500 more than the base four-wheel drive V-6 Laredo, and it includes additional standard equipment. The 4xe comes with 18-inch wheels, a 10.1-inch touch screen with navigation, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats and a sunroof with double windows. The 4xe powertrain is also available in Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve classes, and charging over the four-wheel drive versions of these trim ranges from $ 8250 to $ 9915 – which can be largely offset by 4xe’s federal tax deduction of $ 7500. In Summit Reserve form, the Grand Cherokee 4xe tops at $ 76,490.

At the high prices, and given the Grand Cherokee’s overall sophistication, the rough edges of the plug-in hybrid are starting to plummet. And with its limited EV capabilities and relatively modest improvements in fuel economy compared to a V-6 or V-8 model, the Grand Cherokee 4xe does not seem to offer enough reward for the extra cost and effort.

Specifications

Specifications

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
Vehicle type: front engine, front engine, 4-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door trolley

AWARD
Base: 4×4, $ 57,660; Trailhawk, $ 64,280; On land; $ 67,555; Summit, $ 71,615; Summit Reserve, $ 76,490

OPERATING TRAIN
turbocharged and mid-cooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 270 hp, 295 lb-ft + AC engine, 134 hp, 195 lb-ft (combined power: 375 hp, 470 lb-ft; 14.0 -kWh lithium battery pack [C/D est]; 7.2 kW built-in charger)
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic

MEASURE
Wheelbase: 116.7 inches
Length: 193.5 inches
Width: 77.5 inches
Height: 70.8–70.9 inches
Passenger volume: 107 feet3
Load volume: 38 feet3
Empty weight (CD estimate): 5400–5600 lb

PERFORMANCE (CD EST)
60 mph: 6.8 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.0 sec
Top speed: 115 mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined / city / motorway: 23/24/23 mpg
Combined petrol + electricity: 56 MPGe
EV Range: 26 mi


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