Jeep introduced the fifth generation of its two-wheeled Grand Cherokee SUV last summer, and now there is an electrified version. 4xe is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which means that you can connect it at home or in a level 2 charger when you are on the go, and it only runs on electricity. But not for long. Its electric range is about 40 kilometers.
Most plug-in hybrids do not go far on electricity alone. They are designed to cover the distance of an average commuter and the best of them do not go much further than 60 kilometers. Mostly, their electricity is intended to supplement the power of the gasoline engine.
For the Grand Cherokee 4xe, the short electric range will cost you a lot – as much as $ 22,650 extra, which is the difference between the most basic Laredo version of the V6-powered Jeep and the cheapest limited version of the plug. in.
In practice, the real difference in price is about $ 10,000 between models with similar options, as the basic plug-in is much better equipped than the standard gas version. Nevertheless, it is a steep premium.
The electrification system is basically the same as Jeep introduced last year on the Wrangler, with popular success. It is relatively slow to charge, with a maximum speed of 7.2 kilowatts, but its smaller capacity means that it should be fully charged if it is connected to a standard 110-volt outlet overnight.
The battery may not take you far, but the electrification still adds at least 345 kilos to the total weight compared to the V6 – much like having an adult in each of the five seats. It compensates for the weight by using its two electric motors to reduce total fuel consumption, although it probably will not save you $ 10,000 in gasoline during its lifetime.
There are two real benefits to having the heavy battery and extra motors to power your wheels. The most important is the extra power they deliver: The combined strength of the 4xe is 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, compared to 293 and 260 respectively for the standard V6. It’s even more than the V8’s 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft, although the 4xe has the lowest towing capacity, at a maximum of 2,720 kg (6,000 pounds).
At cruising speed, the extra power is not really visible, but it is there when you put your foot down. 4xe can be set to automatically determine the best driving combination of engine and motors, or you can switch to just one or the other.
I messed with many combinations, including recharging the battery while driving and adjusting the regenerative power of the brakes and setting five different terrain modes, and finally I just left the jeep to do everything automatically. I’m sure it was more effective when left to itself.
The other major benefit is the reduction in fuel consumption and harmful emissions, despite the extra cost of capital. This means that you can drive in the city and out on the trail without emitting any greenhouse gases, although there is an argument that the mining of battery raw materials can offset this. And of course, in the provinces that allow PHEVs to drive in high-traffic lanes, it can take you forward on the daily commute.
Base price / as tested: $ 75,195 / $ 89,295 plus $ 2,095 shipping and delivery before inspection
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged i4, plus dual electric motors and 17.3 kilowatt-hour battery
Gearbox / drive: Eight-speed automatic / four-wheel drive
Fuel consumption (liters equivalent per 100 kilometers): 4.1 claimed
Option: Toyota RAV4 Prime, Kia Sorento PHEV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Jeep Wrangler PHEV, Jeep Grand Cherokee (V6 or V8)
There is not much that separates the 4xe from the rest of the Grand Cherokee stable, apart from the marks and the extra refill cap over the charging socket. Jeep’s new design last year was cosmetically mild, which made the seven-stripe grille and lights shallower, but mostly only adds space for both passengers and cargo.
4xe can only be purchased in exclusive versions, which means ordinary leather seats, heated in the first two rows, double glass ceilings and comfortable ambient lighting. There is a simple round gearbox in the center console, which removes the lever and adds more space to the area between the driver and front passenger.
The Grand Cherokee is intended as a premium vehicle, and its more expensive versions live up to the billing, including efficient massage chairs with thick, quilted leather.
The Grand Cherokee 4xe is comfortable on the road and extremely capable on the trail. All versions have a two-speed gearbox, and I also drove the Trailhawk version, which has a differential with limited sliding, air suspension and a swivel for better stability on the highway that is disconnected for driving over boulders and through deep holes when off the road.
I took it over a seemingly impossible terrain with some difficulty. It can even send 100 percent of its torque to just one of the rear wheels if needed, which it did for me a few times without any problems on some very steep and slippery rocks. The transition from electricity to petrol was sometimes a bit jerky, but I think if I had just left the settings on “automatic”, it would have been much less noticeable.
When the 17.3 kilowatt-hour battery is discharged, there is still enough charge left to help the gasoline engine when needed. Nevertheless, once I had consumed all the available power left in the battery, my fuel consumption was on average 12.6 liters per 100 kilometers at highway speeds, which is not so bad for such a large and heavy vehicle. Jeep claims that the fuel consumption for the petrol engine alone will be 10 liters per 100 kilometers under mixed driving conditions.
The Grand Cherokee offers pretty much everything possible, though you’ll have to pay extra for some of the driver assistance features, such as automatic parking and collision avoidance.
One of the smart features that is standard on the 4xe is a dedicated control screen for the front passenger, which can not be seen by the driver. It includes distracting views from the many cameras while driving, and a separate navigation screen where a route can be determined and then moved to the main screen in the middle. It’s nice, but it kept my interest as a passenger just a few minutes at the beginning of the ride.
There is no reduction in cargo space to accommodate the large battery, even if the fuel tank is 15 liters smaller. The new Grand Cherokee increased its passenger and luggage compartments from the previous generation, creating 1,067 liters behind the seats in the second row and 2,005 liters when these seats are laid flat.
However, this is not a three-wheeled SUV. If you need more seats, you need the Grand Cherokee L with longer wheelbase, and it does not offer an electrified version. At least not yet.
The Grand Cherokee 4xe is a true, capable Jeep and now more premium than ever. If you really need electrification is up to you and your daily driving habits. It adds power, but do not expect the electric motors to save any money in the long run.
The author was a guest of the car manufacturer. The content was not subject to approval.
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