The 4xe Trailhawk is quietly one of the most capable SUVs not named Wrangler.

jeep grand cherokee Full overview

We’ve had some good experiences with Jeep’s luxurious all-new Grand Cherokee refresh, but most of our time so far has been in the three-row L model. While we love the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee’s highway ride, its incredible technology and the luxury found inside, the L just has a different feel. It lacks the sportiness of the previous two-row, and its extra size prevents it from being a truly believable trail machine (although you might be surprised how deep down a trail it can get you).

All that changes with the two-row Grand Cherokee and its sleeker proportions, shorter wheelbase and more compact dimensions. Thankfully, we’ve found everything we’ve loved about the Grand over the years intact in the new WL two-row model. Add that Trailhawk package and the improvement is even more significant. Take it a step further with the 4xe version and you have a forward-leaning, class-leading SUV.

With incredible consumer acceptance of the Wrangler 4xe, especially by enthusiasts, Jeep is now turning its sights on the Grand Cherokee. With the 4xe (pronounced “four-by-e”) variant, the Grand Cherokee adds the Wrangler’s 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder PHEV and eight-speed automatic powertrain to the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and optional 5.7 -liter Hemi V-8 offerings.

When dealing with future powertrains, we come to the table open-minded and cautiously optimistic. We realize that the whole zero-emission message is essentially marketing spin, but whether you buy into it or not, electric vehicles are here to stay. So, for us, an electrified vehicle should be judged on its ability – and its ability to make the base vehicle better and add features – versus any misguided attempt to save the world.

Such is the case with the plug-in Grand Cherokee 4xe, where it feels like features and capabilities are achieved without giving anything up. For example, the 375-horsepower 4xe has the same 470 lb-ft of torque as the V-8 (270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque on throttle alone, compared to 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque from the 5.7-liter V- 8), but it’s about a second faster to 60 than the V-8, while beating the fuel economy of the gas V-6 by about 1 mpg when running on gas alone. It comes to the table with a 56 mpg-e number, which beats both the Wrangler 4xe’s 49 mpg-e and the Range Rover Sport PHEV’s 42 mpg-e by a not-insignificant amount.

The most off-road capable of all Grand Cherokee models is the Trailhawk, which, when optioned as a 4xe, makes for an exciting package. All Trailhawk-spec Grand Cherokees feature a Quadra Trac II 4×4 system with a low range of 2.72:1 and a crawl ratio of 47.4:1. The rear eLSD can transfer 100 percent of torque to the wheel with the most traction, and every Trailhawk has a class-exclusive front electronic disconnect anti-roll bar for improved articulation. Jeep also made sure there was enough structure to rate its towbars at 10,000 pounds, or about 1.5 times the GVWR, while the roof rails can carry a dynamic load of 150 pounds. Also unique to the Trailhawk are 30.5-inch 265/60R18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory all-terrain tires on Trailhawk-specific 18-inch wheels.

Trailhawk models come standard with Quadra-Lift air suspension with semi-active damping and 4.7 inches of adjustment. In the highest of five settings, the Grand benefits from 10.9 inches of ground clearance, 24 inches of water-discharge capacity, and a best-in-class approach angle of 35.7 degrees, along with a class-leading departure angle of 30 degrees, and a trail-friendly break angle of 22.3 degrees. The new air suspension is a faster, more refined closed-loop system that will no longer make you knock off the return springs off-road like a WK or WK2 Grand would.

Distinguished by its blue accents, such as on the towbars, wheels and badges, the Trailhawk 4x is fully skidded, including a 3.5mm thick battery skid plate to keep the 17.3kWh battery protected from trail damage. Trailhawk 4xes weigh about 500 pounds more than their combustion siblings and are rated to tow up to 6,000 pounds.

Inside, the Trailhawk 4xe is beautifully assembled and generously equipped with Capri leather-trimmed power seats with suede inserts, heated front and rear rows, heated steering wheel, 10.1-inch display, 10.25-inch front passenger display, 506-watt nine-s. Alpine sound system, cargo racks, dual-zone automatic climate control, all-weather floor mats and Uconnect 5 with Jeep off-road sides. The Grand 4xe is spacious, quiet and comfortable for the journey.

During our drive, we found that the Grand Cherokee 4xe is easy to steer and has a great highway ride, thanks in part to the semi-active, multi-link air suspension. More stable than before thanks to a track width 1.4 inches wider than the previous WK2 model, handling is precise, and with perfect steering, the Grand is an engaging partner on twisty roads.

Acceleration was surprisingly quick, and when the 2.0-liter turbo and engine work together, it’s an impressive setup. One aspect of its PHEVs that Jeep got right is E Selec, which offers three powertrain modes:

  • Hybrid: This is the default mode, where the Grand will optimize the powertrain to determine the mix of ICE and electric assistance for the best combination of fuel efficiency and performance.
  • Electrical: In this mode, the Grand 4xe will operate on electric power only until the battery is discharged or the driver requests maximum torque, such as at wide open throttle or when accelerating up a hill.
  • e-Save: This mode prioritizes the ICE engine to save the battery charge for later use, such as driving to a trail and driving it on all-electric with a full charge.

The driver can choose between these modes with easily accessible buttons to the left of the steering wheel, and can also choose to prioritize battery saving and battery charging within the Uconnect system. The Grand Cherokee 4xe will get about 25 miles on a charge and takes about 2.5 hours to fully charge on a Level 2 plug-in charger with a maximum charging speed of 7.2 kW.

It’s worth nothing that there were a couple of times on the road where we felt a slight stumble as the powertrain shifted between modes, but that wasn’t the norm, and the drivetrain felt well sorted for the most part. Playing around with the different modes, a new dimension to driving emerged as we gamified our inputs to take advantage of max regen and regain some range after draining the battery.

Although the Trailhawk 4xe will spend most of its time on the road, Jeep made sure it was engineered to be the most capable SUV in its class. In fact, Jeep proved the point by supplementing the Rubicon in a battery-only, single-charge Trailhawk 4xe. In Texas, where we tested the Trailhawk 4xe, Jeep put us on one of the most demanding off-road loops we’ve seen for nearly any vehicle launch, except for the Wrangler.

With a really low reach and five Selec-Terrain modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud/Sand), the Grand felt ready to go at the push of a button. On the rocks, the Trailhawk 4xe excelled at crawling, flexing its fantastic brake grip system and a rear eLSD that proved responsive and efficient, always getting power to the wheel with traction (even when off the ground). The 360-degree surround camera helped us see trail obstacles and past the hood on steep climbs and in battery mode, and the instant torque and responsive pedal made piloting the Grand through technical terrain inspiring confidence. To prove how important capability and enthusiasm are to Jeep, the company equipped our test vehicles with optional Mopar rocker switches.

Another driving aid in the Grand 4xe toolbox is Selec-Speed ​​control, which acts as cruise control for the trail. It proved easy to modulate and keep the Grand at a preselected speed, regardless of terrain. The 4xe can also benefit from the regen, which can act as a de facto rollback control on steep hills, although we’d like to see Jeep implement multiple levels of aggressiveness for additional control. If there was anything else we’d add to the Trailhawk 4xe package, it would be the ability to export power from the hybrid powertrain—for example, to power a campsite.

One final note from our 4xe off-road experience: Whoever tuned the Grand Cherokee 4xe’s stability control needs a raise. On tightly packed trails, the Grand is tossable and fun, and shockingly easy to drift and slide through corners without the electronic nannies stepping in to prematurely end your audition tape for the next Gymkhana. It has instant power, and with the great steering and strong brakes, the chassis encourages the rider to dance with it in the dirt.

At the end of our test, we walked away thinking the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe might be the best offering in the lineup and one of the few PHEVs we’d consider for our own driveway. With a starting price of $62,485 plus a $1,795 destination charge (an $8,250 premium over the gas V-6 Trailhawk), the Trailhawk 4xe is certainly proudly priced, but it comes with an extensive list of standard features, and government tax credits and incentives should dampen sticker shock and bring it more in line with its gas-powered siblings. If you’re in the market for a capable, powerful, efficient, luxurious, technology-forward and comfortable SUV all in one package, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe is definitely one that should be at the top of your list.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe Specifications

BASIC PRICE $64,280
LAYOUT Rear engine, 4WD, 5-speed, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L 270-hp, 295-lb-ft turbocharged direct-injection DOHC 16-valve 4-cyl, plus 134-hp/195-lb-ft electric motor; 375 hp/470 lb-ft cam
TRANSFER 8-speed auto
EMPTY WEIGHT 5,524 lbs
WHEELBASE 116.7 inches
L x W x H 193.5 x 77.5 x 70.9 inches
0-60 MPH 6.0 sec (mfr est)
EPA FUEL ECON 23 mpg combined (est)/56 MPGe
EPA RANGE, COMB 470 miles
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