SUV Review: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe

Up to 42 kilometers of fuel-free driving without range anxiety

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For those who want battery power but aren’t fully committed to all-electric, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) could be the happy medium. These plug-in powertrains are appearing in an increasing number of vehicles, and for 2022 Jeep has added it to the Grand Cherokee.

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It’s known as the Grand Cherokee 4xe, too 4×4 plus electrical. And while many PHEVs tend to be a single, separate model among their conventional siblings, this plug-in comes in four trim levels of the base 4xe, my Overland tester, the top-line Summit (which can be further optioned with a Reserve package, almost transforming to a fifth trim), and also the off-road Trailhawk – and it’s no longer available as a gas-only model, and now only as a plug-in. The 4xe only comes with five passenger seats and not as an electrified version of the three-row Grand Cherokee L.

Once you plug it in and fully charge it – it takes about two hours on a 240-volt charger, or 12 hours from a standard 110-volt household outlet – the 4xe can drive a maximum of 42 kilometers on electricity alone. I achieved it once with a very light foot, although I was mostly around the 35km mark, as driving conditions can reduce range. Even so, it is enough for many people to run most things on the battery.

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When the stored charge is depleted, the 4xe reverts to conventional hybrid operation, automatically switching between petrol, electric or a combination and self-charging the hybrid battery. That’s where a PHEV shines: If you can’t plug it in, you can still get wherever you’re going as long as you have gas in the tank.

Keep in mind that plugging can save fuel, but the technique iis still expensive. My 2022 Overland 4xe started at $80,000, and that rises to $80,995 for 2023 models, which is $10,050 over the gas-only sticker. 4xes 2023 trims range from $71,995 to $86,495. The prices means you have to really want the technology and then be willing to plug it in when possible to get the most out of it.

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The 4xe is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine that produces 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. When it works with the hybrid system, you get a combined 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft — more than the Grand Cherokee with a V8. The 4xe uses an eight-speed automatic transmission, with a full-time 4×4 system that can be set to low for the roughest stuff, along with drive modes to handle snow, sand, mud or rock. It can also tow up to 6,000 lbs, and since the battery is under the floor, its placement doesn’t cut into the generous 1,067 liters of cargo volume.

The 4xe delivers strong, quick acceleration, but other luxury PHEVs have a more premium feel. You get the expected smoothness of course when it’s running on the stored charge, but in hybrid mode the transition from electric to gas is rough and clumsy and the engine has an odd whirring sound. The hybrid system is loaded with regenerative braking, and while most automakers have smoothed out brake pedal feel on their hybrids, the 4xes seem artificial and touchy.

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The rest of the driving experience is very pleasant. The Grand Cherokee is big but doesn’t feel it, with well-weighted steering, responsive handling, a smooth ride – a four-corner height-adjustable air suspension is standard on all but the base trim – and corners very well. My tester had an optional off-road package that included an electronic limited-slip rear differential, off-road tires and skid plates. The package makes it “Trail Rated,” indicating it meets off-road standards for ground clearance, traction, articulation and other requirements — but Jeep has never disclosed all benchmarks for the brand. Suffice it to say that the very few who will take a new vehicle this expensive into the really rough stuff can be confident that it will take them out again. The 4xes electronics are sealed and the Trail Rated version can ford up to 61 cm (24 inches) of water.

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The drivetrain doesn’t always feel premium, but the interior certainly does. The Overland comes standard with Nappa leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel, while my tester further added optional ventilated and massaging front seats. Other additions included a rearview mirror with camera display, head-up display, night vision and highway driving assistance that combines adaptive cruise control and lane centering. where is a system coming soon that will enable hands-free driving on pre-mapped divided highways, similar to GM’s Super Cruise, but it’s not here yet.

The infotainment uses the Uconnect 5 operating system, still one of the best in the industry for ease of use. It’s a touchscreen, but it also does very well with voice commands and starts listening when you say “Hey Jeep” (or whatever alarm clock you’ve programmed). But the engineers resisted the urge to stuff all the controls behind the glass, so there are hard buttons and knobs for climate control, seat and steering wheel heating, and stereo volume and tuning, as there always should be.

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There are also some top options that have trickled down from the Jeep Wagoneer, including a McIntosh stereo – it sounds great, although it’s always weird to see my name emblazoned on a dash – and a screen on the right side of the dash, invisible to the driver to reduce distraction, to play movies or other entertainment for the passenger.

When driven as a hybrid, the 4xe is officially rated at 10.0L/100km in combined city/highway driving — not too far from the conventional Grand Cherokee with the 3.6L V6, rated at 10.9. To make it worthwhile, you really need to plug it in at every opportunity and run on battery as often as possible. But if you like the idea of ​​electrification in a 4×4 but are worried about range anxiety on longer treks, look at the 4xe.

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