Remember when hybrids were boring? It really didn’t seem that long ago that we were trying to figure out ways to make things seem like something more than snooze-inducing functional engineering. Also a starring role in Gran Turismo 5 couldn’t make the poor Prius cool.
But while the Prius will probably never shake its image as a utilitarian machine, no one will ever call the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe boring. From the dark blue tow hooks to the wide stance of the knobbly 265/60R-18 Goodyear Wranglers, this thing is both aggressive and aggressively a hybrid. Weird mix? Yes, but somehow it works.
Let’s quickly go through the details. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe is a $62,485 two-row SUV powered by Jeep’s venerable 2.0-liter turbo inline-four, which here puts down 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque routed through an eight-speed automatic. It’s paired with a 17-kWh battery pack and the requisite plug-in plumbing to provide an EPA-estimated 25 miles of all-electric range on a full charge.
The first thing I did, of course, was to see if those 25 miles were possible. From empty, the Jeep took just two and a half hours on my Level 2 home charger to fill the batteries. I then went for a quick run around town to run a few errands and wouldn’t you know it, exactly 25 miles later the dashboard sagged and the engine started. I had depleted my charge.
The SUV was perfectly fine to drive on only electrons. Sure, it was a little squeaky off the line, but it was hardly slow, the engine only kicking in occasionally when climbing steep grades. Remember, this thing weighs 5,300 pounds! Over the course of my two weeks with the Trailhawk 4xe, I averaged a few tenths of 22 mpg, again more or less right in line with the EPA estimate. But as with all PHEVs, your mileage can and will vary enormously depending on the length of your commute and your access to a charger at either end.
During those test miles, I was impressed by how pleasant the Grand Cherokee is to drive — comfortable and composed despite the sturdy suspension, quiet and composed despite the aggressive tires. I could really see myself putting big miles on this thing without complaint. Only the eight-speed auto was an occasional annoyance, delivering the odd clumsy shift on part-throttle acceleration. Really, it’s just a small fly in the ointment in this delightfully smooth one.
The interior more than held up its end of the bargain. This Cherokee offered comfortable front and rear seating, and while the color scheme was pretty dark inside, the panoramic sunroof brightened the place up. That’s worth an extra $1,835. The Trailhawk you see here has both the $2,235 Advanced Protech and $1,995 Rear Seat Video packages, which means touchscreens and HDMI inputs for all, plus a bevy of USB-A and USB-C ports and even three-pin power for thirsty laptops or game consoles.
The front passenger display is shrouded behind a privacy filter, meaning you can’t easily see it from the driver’s seat. It’s smart and, with Amazon Fire TV built in everywhere, there’s no shortage of media for all your passengers. That said, in this era of personal content consumption, I have to figure that most people would bring their own devices just as quickly.
The 10.1-inch center touchscreen is the one dedicated to the driver, augmented by Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both wireless. That screen is flanked top and bottom with a massive array of buttons. Jeep thankfully hasn’t given up on physical controls, providing dials and knobs for just about everything. Opinions will differ on this, but I appreciate the tactility.
However, I wish the buttons were a little more logically arranged. Off-road driving mode selection is made in the center console to the left of the gearbox’s gear knob. Selecting the hybrid drive mode is done on a separate panel to the left of the steering wheel. Then, if you want to activate maximum regenerative braking, you need to press a button located at the top of the center stack, above the touchscreen. It’s a lot of flapping.
Again, though, that’s a minor quibble in what’s a really impressive rig, especially when you take it off-road. Quadra-Lift air suspension lifts the Grand Cherokee to a claimed 11.3 inches of ground clearance, and the locking rear differential ensures all the power goes where you want it. I didn’t spend as much time off the tarmac as I would have liked, but when I ran through some deep, muddy forest roads, the 4x felt completely confident.
In other words, it felt just like a Jeep, but one that could get you to work emission-free and effortlessly. The price as configured at $72,185 is far from cheap, but also quite reasonable for all this can do, and the wonderfully buttoned-up way it does it.
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Trailhawk 4×4 Specifications
Intercooled Turbo Gas/Electric I-4