Jeep embraces electrification but, like a 4 × 4 crawling over a pile of rocks, it does so slowly and methodically.
The first all-electric jeep is planned to be launched in 2023, but in the meantime we will get charging hybrids. With petrol engines to dampen range anxiety and traditional mechanical four-wheel drive systems to conserve off-road capacity, Jeeps 4xe (pronounced “four-by-e”) bridge hybrids bridge the gap between two eras.
Jeep started with what was undoubtedly the tougher job – a 4x version of its iconic Wrangler. Now it goes on to another familiar nameplate. 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is an electrified version of the brand’s family SUV mainstay. While several plug-in hybrid SUVs of similar size are coming to market, none are quite like this Jeep.
The Grand Cherokee 4xe shares the difference between standard models such as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento plug-in hybrids and more luxurious offerings such as the BMW X5 xDrive45e, Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring and Volvo XC90 Recharge – but with unrivaled off-road capacity.
The price starts at $ 59,565 for the base model. That’s a big increase from the base of the non-hybrid Grand Cherokee, but you get more standard equipment, including a three-screen infotainment system. If you go up the Trailhawk, Overland and Summit trim levels to the top sum reserve, you pay $ 76,095 before any alternatives. The Grand Cherokee 4xe qualifies for at least the full $ 7,500 federal EV tax deduction because of its large 17-kilowatt-hour battery pack.
Design and interior design
The entire Grand Cherokee range gets a redesign that began to be rolled out for the 2021 model on the three-row Grand Cherokee L model and continues for 2022 with two-row models. The new Grand Cherokee with the code name WL is a big change from the previous generation WK2 model.
The seven-compartment grid and politically incorrect names carry over, but everything else is different. In contrast to the somewhat shady WK2, the Grand Cherokee WL has a more graceful, elongated profile with upright sides and fine proportions. The styling was inspired by the classic SJ Jeep Grand Wagoneer, said Jeep’s exterior design manager Eugenio Sellano-Neto in a presentation before our test drive. We think this Grand Cherokee is a better tribute to SJ than the actual current generation Grand Wagoneer, actually.
The interior was quite exclusive, with nicely integrated screens and appealing details.
You can not get a three-row Grand Cherokee 4xe, something that is available on the cheaper Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid, as well as the more expensive Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring and Volvo XC90 Recharge. However, the 4xe has comparable interior space like these SUVs of similar size, as well as non-hybrid Grand Cherokee models. Its 32.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in place, and 70.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, are in the lower part of an SUV of this size, but identical to a comparable non-hybrid Grand Cherokee.
We thought the interior was quite exclusive, with nicely integrated screens and appealing details such as the large gear selector knob and switches for driving modes and four-wheel drive. The fit and finish also seemed worthy of a luxury vehicle, let alone a rugged Jeep. We were not as impressed by the abundant piano black plastic (which attracted lots of dust), Trailhawks vinyl seats or the molded wood upholstery on Overland models, but the latter at least gets Nappa leather upholstery. And we had no problems with the material quality of the top models Summit and Summit Reserve.
Technology, infotainment and driver assistance
All 4xe models come standard with a 10.1-inch touchscreen, 10.1-inch digital instrument panel and a 10.2-inch touchscreen for the front passenger. Apple CarPlay / Android Auto wireless and a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot are also standard. A 10-inch head-up display, rear-seat entertainment system with built-in Amazon Fire TV connection and a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system are also available.
The infotainment system Uconnect 5 kept the various screens working well. Jeep fills a lot of information, from typical functions such as navigation to climb and roll angles for off-road driving, but it was easy to switch between everything. The main touch screen was set to display a few different widgets at the same time without looking cluttered, and Jeep’s UX designers made some smart decisions. The climate controls stay in a menu bar at the top of the screen, so you can make adjustments without having to quit Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Jeep also allows drivers to quickly pull up a front camera view with a push – this is not always the case in other vehicles.
Jeep’s UX designers made some smart decisions.
The front passenger screen only works when someone is sitting in the seat and because we were driving solo we could not test it. But we think Jeep’s approach to decentralizing the multi-screen interface makes more sense than using an oversized screen for everything. Apart from the latest Mercedes-Benz electric cars, you will not find a similar line-up anywhere else either.
Standard driver assistance functions include frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking, rear crossing warning, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistant, lane change warning, adaptive cruise control and rear parking assistance. Optional features include night vision, a 350-degree camera system, a digital rear-view mirror, traffic sign recognition, a driver attention monitor, parallel and perpendicular parking assistance and Travel Assist, which adds automatic file centering to the adaptive cruise control.
Like the Wrangler 4xe, the Grand Cherokee 4xe uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, eight-speed automatic transmission and two electric motors.
One engine functions only as a starter motor / generator, while the other engine, which is located between the engine and the transmission, is used for propulsion. In electric mode, a clutch makes it possible to connect to the driveline at the same time as the engine is disconnected. The engine then switches on again for hybrid mode. An electric air-conditioning compressor also helps to improve efficiency by moving some of the power required from the petrol engine to the electric motors.
This complex system produces 375 horsepower and 470 pounds-feet of torque, enabling a rugged 6,000-pound maximum towing capacity, according to Jeep. It’s smaller than some non-hybrid Grand Cherokee models, but about the same as the BMW X5 and Lincoln Aviator plug-in hybrids. The carmaker also quotes zero to 60 mph in about 6.0 seconds, which it claims is about a second faster than a non-hybrid Grand Cherokee with the largest available V8 engine.
At one point we steered a 4xe up a rock wall with two wheels from the ground.
Unlike non-hybrid Grand Cherokee models, the 4xe also gets standard four-wheel drive. And unlike other plug-in hybrid SUVs, it gets the hardware needed for serious off-road driving. The four-wheel drive system is similar to non-hybrid Grand Cherokee models, with a two-speed gearbox and low range that allows the 4xe to crawl over surfaces with low traction. An optional air suspension system allows 10.9 inches of ground clearance (on Trailhawk models), and if that’s not enough, you still have steel plates that protect the underside of the vehicle – including the battery pack.
This adds an SUV that can drive off-road like a regular Jeep, while using less fuel. Jeep were eager to show off the capacity of the Grand Cherokee and sent us through a terrain course where we at one point guided a Trailhawk model up a rock wall with two wheels from the ground. The fact that we did this in a plug-in hybrid did not cause any problems. It was even possible to cross in electric mode (although the amount of gas required to get up steep slopes made the gas engine start). When it comes to off-road driving, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is the real deal.
It is unclear how many owners will take their approximately $ 60,000 off-road SUV, but everyone will appreciate the Grand Cherokee’s on-road manner. We drove on the road in a mid-level Overland model and were impressed by its comfortable driving, quiet cabin and predictable driving characteristics. Although there were some minor flaws, such as the occasional sip when the driver’s line switched from electric to hybrid mode and an unattractive engine note, the overall experience was downright luxurious.
Gas mileage and safety
The Grand Cherokee 4xe has an electric range of 25 miles with a combined efficiency class of 56 MPGe. A standard 7 kilowatt charger enables a full charge in 3.4 hours with a 240-volt level 2 AC source, said Jeep.
The electric range is slightly less than you get in Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento plug-in hybrids, as well as the BMW X5 xDrive45e and Volvo XC90 Recharge. We also fell below that rating, even at low speeds, but the jeep’s aggressive regenerative braking allowed us to regain a few miles of electric range quite easily. We also discovered that during normal driving, the Jeep could stay in electric mode consistently without turning on the gasoline engine.
In hybrid mode, the 4xe is rated at 23 mpg combined, which means that it is only slightly more efficient than a Grand Cherokee with the standard V6 engine, which is rated at 22 mpg combined. As with all charging hybrids, you only get an efficiency gain if you actually charge 4xe regularly.
Crash test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) were not available at the time of publication. The previous generation WK Grand Cherokee did not get perfect points from any of the organizations, so there is definitely room for improvement.
Jeep offers a three-year, 36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year warranty on a 60,000-mile driveline, plus three years of free scheduled maintenance.
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is both a good SUV and a good plug-in hybrid. Its off-road and towing capabilities, as well as generous interior and cargo spaces, fulfill the SUV’s design mission. It also offers a useful amount of electric range, an electric mode that works well during normal driving and aggressive regenerative braking.
The standard infotainment system Uconnect 5 and its three large screens, together with wireless Apple CarPlay /
All this gives a unique vehicle that is difficult to categorize. If all you want is a plug-in hybrid with plenty of space, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento will take care of it at a lower price. However, the Grand Cherokee offers a more exclusive feel and more technology than the Korean models at a lower starting price than plug-in hybrids from luxury brands from BMW, Lincoln and Volvo. By combining robust capacity, technology and efficiency, Jeep has found a good niche.
Are you going to get one?
Yes. This plug-in hybrid can handle everything.