Most capable Grand Cherokee – and environmentally friendly too

AUSTIN, TX – As we reported last fall (“2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee improves terrain—and on”), the new fifth-generation Grand Cherokee is easily the best ever. And now we can add that its available plug-in hybrid 4xe powertrain stands above its V-6 and V-8 counterparts in most measurable ways. As it should, since it’s priced $10,000 higher than V-6 models.

As we said at the time, the ’22 Grand Cherokee – newly available in both two-row and stretched three-row “L” models – is new from decklid to roof rail. It offers a finely crafted (and more spacious) new interior in a stylish new exterior on a stiffer, stronger new architecture.

And it delivers the best capability ever thanks to a choice of Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II or Quadra-Drive II 4×4 systems, class-exclusive Quadra-Lift air suspension – now with electronic semi-active damping that gives up to a class-leading 11 .3 inches. (28.7 cm) ground clearance and 24 in. (61 cm) water wading – and (only on Trailhawk models) a new, class-exclusive disconnect front sway bar for improved articulation and more secure footing over rocks and rough terrain.

Its very user-friendly Uconnect 5 infotainment system is handled by a 10.1-in. (25.6-cm) digital touchscreen — thankfully with volume and adjust/scroll buttons and hard buttons for HVAC — and an available segment-exclusive 10.25-in. (26 cm) front passenger screen to help co-pilots assist with navigation, camera viewing and visual entertainment and a new high-definition rear seat entertainment system with dual seatback screens and built-in FireTV.

Standard driver convenience/safety features include adaptive cruise with stop-and-go, full-speed collision warning with active braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection, rear cross-traffic detection, lane departure warning with lane assist, advanced brake assist, blind spot monitoring, a back-up camera and park assist back with stop. Also available are Night Vision Camera with Pedestrian and Animal Detection, Intersection Collision Assist, Drowsy Driver Detection, Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, 360-degree surround camera with front and rear trays and (SAE Level 2) Active Driving Assist semi-automatic driving .

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The Uconnect infotainment system anchors the Grand Cherokee interior.

Among the other available technologies: wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital rearview mirror, a 10-in. (25.4 cm) full-color head-up display, a wireless charging pad in the front center console, enhanced Amazon Alexa virtual assistant, SiriusXM 360L platform with personal stations powered by Pandora, TomTom navigation with predictive search, 4G LTE Wi- Fi hotspot that can connect up to eight devices, live traffic updates with natural speech, over-the-air map updates and a new 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh sound system.

And new for 4×4 is front axle disconnection. If road conditions do not require AWD, it automatically switches to rear-wheel drive to reduce driveline drag and improve fuel economy. AWD is automatically re-engaged when the vehicle feels it is needed.

Grand Cherokee 4xe

What sets the new PHEV 4xe apart from its non-hybrid stablemates? It delivers a hefty 375 total system horsepower, 470 lb.-ft. (637 Nm) of torque and 6,000 lb. (2,720 kg) towing capacity plus 25 miles (40 km) of electric-only range at an estimated 57 MPGe. In Trailhawk trim, it provides Wrangler-like off-road capability through its Quadra Trac II 4×4 system with a two-speed transmission, 2.72:1 low gear ratio and 47.4:1 crawl ratio.

Available in Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve trims, the 4xe hybrid propulsion system combines two electric motors and a 400V, 17 kWh battery pack with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl. and TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission. Two clutches handle the output from the engine and the e-motor, and a liquid-cooled motor/generator (connected by a belt to the engine’s crankshaft) generates electricity for the battery and enables near-seamless start-stop operation.

The battery pack has a dedicated heating and cooling circuit to keep it at optimal temperature, and with all high-voltage electronics sealed and waterproof, a Trail Rated Grand 4xe can ford up to 2 feet (61 cm) of water. Mounted under the body and protected by steel shields, its integrated Dual Charging Module combines a compact Power Inverter Module, the battery charger and a DC/DC converter in a single, compact unit.

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Selec-Terrain has Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow and Mud/Sand modes, and the 4xe system adds three driver-selectable hybrid modes. Electric mode only works EV until the battery reaches minimum charge (and switches to hybrid) or the driver steps on the gas to request more torque, which engages the engine. Hybrid mode mixes motor and engine torque to optimize performance and efficiency. E-Save prioritizes the engine, saves the battery charge for later use and can charge the battery while driving.

The engine-motor coupling is open in electric mode to eliminate mechanical resistance, then closed in hybrid mode to combine torque from both. The second clutch behind the e-motor handles transmission engagement to improve drivability and efficiency. Regenerative braking from all four wheels (when 4×4 is engaged) returns charge to the battery during normal braking and coasting, and an optional Max Regen function provides slightly more aggressive braking while generating more electricity for the battery.

Driving impression

Specific to our test Trailhawk 4xe are Quadra-Drive II with two-speed transmission and 2.72:1 low gear ratio, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, Selec-Terräng traction management, Selec-Speed ​​Control, disconnect front sway bar and 10.9-in. . (27.8 cm) ground clearance. Trailhawk visual cues include blue-accented 18-in. wheels with all-terrain tires, blue towbars and a black-and-blue matte “Trailhawk” hood decal.

Our test route was mostly two-lane, some twisty and some unpaved, most driven quite aggressively, and we were very impressed with the Trailhawk’s performance, steering handling and braking despite its hefty weight. It was also pleasantly quiet at speed, and its seats provided excellent long-term comfort. We started with 99% state of charge and achieved a surprising 47km – (four [6.4 km] more than expected) – in EV mode with Max Regen before transparently switching to Hybrid mode and starting the engine.

Our drive ended with an extremely challenging off-road course, much of it traversing high, steep, bare cliffs with surprising ease… demonstrating an ability that was truly amazing. Overall fuel economy was 20.7 mpg (11.4 L/100 km) before the off-road course, 20.0 mpg (11.8 L/100 km) afterwards.

The new Grand Cherokee’s driver information and infotainment system were also impressive. The screen provides virtually all the information anyone could want in five reconfigurable segments, Uconnect is intuitive and simple (among the best), and the steering wheel controls are well marked and easy to see and use. There are multiple pairs of USB-A and -C connectors throughout the cabin and HDMI inputs for the rear entertainment system, and our vehicle’s available passenger touchscreen was a unique and appreciated new feature.

Yes, this ’22 Grand Cherokee 4xe is a top contender in a very competitive segment. But not cheap at $58,000-$70,000 depending on trim and options.

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