How far can a 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe go on electricity alone? | News

Plug-in hybrids represent an interesting option for many buyers – those who aren’t quite ready to make the leap into all-electric ownership but still want a way to drive around most of the time without burning any gas. By combining a hybrid powertrain with a battery large enough to power the vehicle for a period before returning to normal hybrid operation, PHEVs offer the benefits of an EV for shorter trips without the range anxiety or charging issues for longer.

That’s the formula Jeep uses for its “4xe” plug-in hybrid system, which is available on the 2022 Grand Cherokee SUV. We wanted to see how far you can drive the Grand Cherokee 4xe on battery power alone—and how it performs when you do—and were pleasantly surprised by our results.

Related: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee review: Grander across the board

The ride

My test vehicle was a base Grand Cherokee 4xe, but the 4xe powertrain comes in five trim levels: base, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve, with progressively nicer interiors and different off-road capabilities and standard features. Even the base model isn’t cheap: it starts at just under $60,000 (including destination charge), but it includes things like the Uconnect 5 multimedia system with navigation, a leather interior, four-wheel drive, a passenger-side touchscreen dashboard and a panoramic sunroof. My test vehicle also had the Luxury Technology Group Package and black paint that pushed the as-tested price to $64,785.

The Grand Cherokee 4xe uses the same powertrain found in the Jeep Wrangler 4xe: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that also includes two electric motors and a 17-kilowatt-hour thermally controlled lithium-ion battery. battery pack. An engine is a boosted starter generator that replaces the alternator; the other is sandwiched between the engine and transmission, replacing the transmission’s torque converter, and is used for electric propulsion.

The total system makes 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, so it’s no slouch in the acceleration department when you call on it to deliver the beans. A standard Quadra Trac II all-wheel drive system with two-speed transmission and 2.72:1 low gear ratio and 47.4:1 crawl ratio means it still retains impressive off-road capability, while a maximum towing capacity of 6,000 pounds means it can still haul boats, RVs, car trailers, or just about anything a standard V-6 equipped Grand Cherokee can.

Three drive modes are available in the 4xe: Hybrid, which lets the SUV decide which mix of gas and electric to use; Electric, which keeps the Grand Cherokee in electric mode until the battery dies or you do something like floor the gas pedal and it decides to engage the gas engine for more power; and eSave, which will run the gas engine continuously to preserve the battery’s state of charge. The latter can even put energy back into the battery while you drive. It’s useful when you want to drive around city streets in electric mode (where it’s most efficient) versus on the highway.

The SUV is EPA-rated for up to 25 miles of all-electric driving before the gas engine kicks in, with a total range of 470 miles. But how far could we make it go on electricity alone?

The route

The standard route I drive to test the electric range of PHEVs runs from the Cars.com Detroit office in Ann Arbor, Mich., to a barbecue restaurant in Dearborn, Mich., and back. The total distance of about 70 miles includes a lot of stop-and-go suburban streets and some higher speeds on four-lane roads, but no freeways or interstates and no speeds over 85 mph.

The air conditioning was off to minimize energy consumption, the windows were up to minimize aerodynamic drag, and the Max Regen button was pressed to maximize the amount of energy recovered when the accelerator pedal was lifted. The tires were inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended cold pressure and the vehicle was switched to electric only mode. The weather was perfect: a sunny Michigan summer day in the mid-70s with no precipitation. After making sure the Grand Cherokee 4xe had a full tank of gas and a full battery charge, I set off.

The results

At launch, the Grand Cherokee 4xe told me it had 27 miles of electric-only range – but what I discovered is that if you drive it normally, keep the acceleration at moderate levels, and don’t do any stoplight drag races, you can actually get a Grand Cherokee 4xe to go 33 miles on electricity alone before the gas engine kicks in. And even when it switches back to operating as a hybrid, it will still operate in electric mode when it can, such as starting from a stop.

Charging the Grand Cherokee 4xe when the battery is dead takes about two hours on a 240-volt Level 2 charger, but significantly longer on a traditional 15-amp household outlet – or when using the SUV’s portable charger. Because my 240-volt home charger was on the fritz during this test, I had to rely on the portable charger being plugged into a regular wall outlet when charging the SUV at home, and charging the 17 kWh battery took about 14 hours. It’s fine if you plug it in as soon as you get home from a daily commute and plan to go again in the morning, but it’s a suboptimal charging solution overall. A 240-volt charger does the job quickly.

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How it runs

Driving the Grand Cherokee 4xe is … interesting. In electric mode, it’s quiet, smooth and generally seamless. The eight-speed automatic transmission feels unusual in combination with electric propulsion, but it shifts smoothly and creates no problems. In hybrid mode, the transmission is a little less smooth; combines that transmission with both the electric one and Gas propulsion methods can lead to some jerky responses, especially in sudden moments of acceleration when the transmission kicks in and both the electric and gas motors are engaged.

This can lead to some neck-snapping movements and unusual acceleration characteristics, but these situations are quite rare. Still, the setup isn’t as smooth as those using a continuously variable automatic transmission, which in my experience tends to better mix petrol and electric propulsion.

Conclusion

The Grand Cherokee 4xe can cover most people’s daily commute in electric mode – and be ready to do it again the next day after charging at home. Alternatively, it can tow an RV off-road without a single top-up in comfort and style with five people on board. It’s not cheap, but few SUVs are cheap anymore.

If you’re looking to save a buck or two on gas but don’t plan on ever plugging it in, the average fuel economy I saw when driving in hybrid mode was around 30mpg, which is good for a big 4×4 SUV like this and significantly better than the V-6 model’s 22 mpg combined rating. But like most PHEVs, it’s best for someone who can do most of their trips in its electric-only mode. Keep it in that zone, and it can go further than it’s rated.

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The Cars.com Editorial Department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In keeping with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers do not accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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