2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee V-6 4×4 First Test Review: Improving on an Old Believer

jeep grand cherokee Full overview

Benefits

  • Superior off-road capability
  • More smooth driving on the road
  • Exclusive interior materials, strong Uconnect system

Disadvantages

  • Aging Pentastar V-6 engine
  • Brakes could be sharper, smoother
  • So-so active safety aids

The 2022 fifth-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee has an already strong and well-known nameplate and once again increases the ante on competitors in the mid-size SUV segment. We first saw the latest-generation Grand Cherokee last year when the family expanded into a new three-row version Jeep calls the Grand Cherokee L, allowing it to compete in the heart of the family hauler market. We were impressed by the interior’s advanced materials and thoughtful details as we waited for the traditional two-row Grand Cherokee to break cover. Now that it has, we’ve grabbed one for a proper test.

WL-y Nice to meet you, two-row Grand Cherokee

The latest WL-generation model is still instantly recognizable as a Grand Cherokee, but it has a wider track, longer hood, lower center of gravity and is more aerodynamic. Unsurprisingly, it also gets a sumptuously appointed interior tailored for a vehicle that’s as at home in the suburbs as it is in the middle of nowhere after a day on the trails.

Jeep offers the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee across a wide spectrum, offering some of the best on- and off-road handling in the mid-size SUV segment; essentially, there is a version for every buyer. The family is anchored by the entry-level Laredo, followed by the nicer Limited, then the richer Overland, off-road-focused Trailhawk, more luxurious Summit and top-of-the-line Summit Reserve with a V-8. There’s also the new Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid, which is available as a powertrain upgrade on Limited, Overland and Summit trims. For 2023, the Trailhawk model is only available with the 4xe gas-electric powertrain. Each step up offers more features, both standard and optional.

The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee still masters terrain

For this latest generation, the expected off-road chops are only amplified. The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee still offers three 4WD systems. Designers were careful to maintain approach and departure angles with higher-than-typical ground clearance bodies while giving the SUV up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance and 24 inches of water shedding capability. The 2022 model also adds a new front axle disconnect feature that automatically reverts to rear-wheel drive if the vehicle senses road conditions that don’t require four-wheel drive. The Limited tested here has the single-speed Quadra-Trac I system (ie, no downshifts) and an active transfer case to send torque to the wheel with the best grip. Although it’s the entry-level package for the three available 4WD systems, it tackled an off-road course with ease.

The engine choices are less new. The V-6 and V-8 engines are carried over from the previous Grand Cherokee, though their days are likely numbered given the introduction of the new Hurricane I-6 engine family that provides more power and efficiency and is, well, new . The Hurricane debuts in the 2022 full-size, long-wheelbase Jeep Wagoneer L and Jeep Grand Wagoneer L, but will soon work its way into future vehicles in the lineup, including the tougher non-L Wagoneers.

Popular choice: Jeep Grand Cherokee with V-6

We tested a 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 with the hard-working 3.6-liter Pentastar engine, a naturally aspirated powertrain that produces 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. This trim and engine is the sweet spot for many Grand Cherokee buyers. And that’s saying something considering the many choices.

The trusty Pentastar V-6—now a decade old—provides plenty of grunt and still sounds resonant as it revs up, distributing power through the eight-speed automatic transmission. In fact, it overperforms for a transmission factory. “I don’t remember this engine being this peppy,” says road test editor Chris Walton. Well, the V-6 has help: The 2022 Grand Cherokee sheds about 250 pounds. We saw 60 mph arrive in 7.3 seconds and the quarter mile passed in 15.5 seconds at 89.8 mph. A 2014 Grand Cherokee Limited with the same V-6 we tested needed 7.7 seconds to reach 60 mph and was 0.3 seconds slower through the quarter mile.

But acceleration can be jerky at times and efficiency lags the competition, at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. That leaves a lot of room for improvement if Jeep replaces the mild hybrid Hurricane engine. If anything, the Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid available now is a more accurate representation of where the nameplate is headed.

Enhances Grand Cherokee On-Road Prowess

This is also the best-riding and best-handling Grand Cherokee ever. We were initially excited by the prospect of the fifth generation using the Giorgio platform that underpins the great-to-drive Alfa Romeo Stelvio and now Maserati Grecale crossovers. But Jeep engineers felt that while the Giorgio had a lot to offer on paved roads, it would compromise the off-road capability required of a Jeep. In the end, the WL settled on a new platform designed to accommodate combustion engines, plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars in the future. The new platform retains the Jeep’s off-road capabilities, but Alfa engineers helped tune the SUV for a livelier on-road experience.

We found the SUV’s suspension to absorb rough surfaces well—especially impressive considering the Limited has steel springs while higher trims have air suspension—with no more than the expected amount of head roll and body roll for a large SUV. (Previous-generation, non-air-suspended Grand Cherokees can be kind of a mess over undulating road surfaces, so it’s great to see such an improvement in the standard setup.) The steering is well weighted, though it can feel like a lot of work on a twisty road. There is a nice range of driving modes – Auto, Sport, Snow and Sand/Mud.

The Grand Cherokee behaved predictably for a large SUV, with noticeable brake dive under hard stops, lots of body roll and understeer at the handling limit, said tester Walton, who also noted that you have to push hard to convince the transmission to give you a downshift on the gas. Stopping the Jeep from 60 mph required 142 feet, the second-worst stopping distance in a large field of tested SUVs. The significantly heavier, all-electric Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV was the only vehicle with a longer stopping distance. Even the huge full-size Jeep Wagoneer L and Jeep Grand Wagoneer L outperformed the smaller and lighter Grand Cherokee.

For those interested in using active safety technology to ease their mental load on a road trip, the active lane management system offers three degrees of steering assistance, but this is an aid, not a fully corrective lane centering system. Conversely, adaptive cruise control works well and keeps the set speed exactly down a long and steep hill. Jeep also offers conventional cruise control.

Step into the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Despite its ground clearance, the Grand Cherokee isn’t difficult to get in and out of and there are adjustable seat belts, which many more expensive vehicles lack, and which are a critical feature for short people.

Our five-passenger Limited came with a black-and-tan interior with beautiful dark wood accents accented with chrome accents. It’s packed with a wide range of safety and comfort features, including heated steering wheel and front and rear seats. The cabin is comfortable and quiet, even at high speeds. We like how the infotainment touchscreen drops down nicely from the top of the dash, and the Uconnect 5 is a great system. It’s easy to use with dedicated hard buttons, it connects easily to devices, the graphics are crisp, and it’s feature-rich and customizable in a way that’s well-organized and intuitive.

There is an angled shelf for phones, with USB and power socket. Rear passengers have a fold-down armrest with two cup holders. Their seats are heated and there are four USB ports. The seats can be folded flat and there is a large cargo area in the back.

Our Limited test vehicle came to $52,250 with options, a short step from the base price of $48,440. This model included the $1,075 Uconnect 5 Nav with 10.1-inch touchscreen display (up from the standard 8.4-inch screen), GPS navigation with traffic services, and an upgraded sound system. For an additional $1,645, Jeep throws in 20-inch painted aluminum wheels and all-season tires. The Baltic Gray Metallic clear coat is extra, as is the Trailer Tow Prep Group with towbar zoom, headlight adjustment, rear load-leveling suspension and a full-size spare tire.

The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, even with the entry-level V-6, should continue to be a popular choice and offer a lot of bang for the buck. However, there is a Grand Cherokee for everyone. Whether the V-8 or a hybrid strikes your fancy, or if greater off-road prowess is in the cards, you can find a Grand Cherokee that works among the wide range of trim levels, all of which take the Jeep’s winning formula and make it better.

Looks good! More details?

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 Specifications
BASIC PRICE $48,440
PRICE AS TESTED $52,250
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, 4WD, 5-speed, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 3.6L port-injected DOHC 24-valve 60-degree V-6
POWER (SAE NET) 293 hp at 6,400 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 260 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
TRANSFER 8-speed automatic
PERSONAL WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,473 lb (54/46%)
WHEELBASE 116.7 inches
Length x width x height 193.5 x 77.5 x 70.8 inches
0-60 MPH 7.3 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.5 sec @ 89.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 142 feet
SIDE ACCELERATION 0.78 g (average)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.1 sec @ 0.58g (average)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/26/22 mpg
EPA RANGE, COMB 506 miles
FOR SALE Now

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