Jeep has been celebrating its 80th anniversary this year with a message of optimism and promises of good things to come.
For the stalwart Grand Cherokee, that didn’t mean a new, less controversial name, but the company did introduce a new three-row Grand Cherokee L for ’21 and the SUV is getting a plug-in option, the 4Xe, in early 2022.
But the focus is now rightfully on the more familiar two-row model with a gas-only powertrain, which comfortably blends upscale on-road behavior with upgraded off-road chops.
The fifth-gen Grand Cherokee is handsome, with the new grille high up the list of noticeable changes. It’s wider and larger now, with a design that hides sensors, including long-range radar, and active shutters.
Jeep didn’t change the proportions much for 2022, but the adjustments it did make are all for the good. The roofline and beltline are both lower. The new Grand Cherokee has a 1.4-in. (36-mm) wider track that
allows for more shoulder and hip room inside of an overall width of 84.6 ins. (2,150 mm).
The SUV is 3.4 ins. (86 mm) longer than before, which breaks down into an additional 0.4 in. (10 mm) in front for impact cage requirements, 2.0 ins. (51 mm) for the wheelbase (now 116.7 ins., or 2,960 mm) and 1.0 in. (25 mm) in the rear for more cargo room.
There is an extra 6.0 cu-ft. (170 L) of rear cargo volume compared to the outgoing model, bringing overall cargo space to 70.8 cu.-ft. (2,004 L). All that in a vehicle that’s now 250 lbs. (113 kg) lighter and gains 1.0 mpg (2.4 L/100 km) in fuel economy in some trims.
The ’22 Grand Cherokee keeps the two engine options from last year. The standard powerplant is a 293-hp 3.6L V-6 while the upgrade is a 357-hp 5.7L V-8. Both use Stellantis’ 8-speed Torqueflight automatic transmission.
Overall, the Grand Cherokee offers plenty of physical buttons for both infotainment and off-road features, and these upgrades are really what set the new SUV apart from its predecessors.
On the infotainment front, there’s a new 10.25-in. (26-cm) front passenger touchscreen that can be used to watch Amazon Fire TV content, control any installed rear-seat screens and send navigation
instructions to the center screen and the driver’s HUD.
The wireless integration between the car’s Uconnect 5 system and CarPlay is more seamless than any other automaker system I’ve used recently.
Especially in the upper trim levels, the new Grand Cherokee is alluring, offering massaging seats (try the Rock Climb massage mode) and a 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh premium audio system.
The upscale touches are welcome, but they won’t fool you into thinking you’re actually in a luxury SUV. The V-6, although plenty powerful, gets loud and tinny when pushed. You don’t feel the effort so much as hear it. But when the music is loud enough, the ’22 Grand Cherokee (pictured below) offers unquestionable comfort, thanks to Quadra-Lift air suspension and accurate steering feel.
Standard safety features include full-speed collision warning with active braking and pedestrian cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active lane management and advanced brake
Optional features include a new night vision camera with pedestrian and animal detection, a drowsy-driver detection system and a new 360-degree surround-view camera with front and rear
washers. These cameras are worth their weight in gold as you test the limits of the new approach and departure angles (36 and 30 degrees, respectively).
The Grand Cherokee's wider track makes the SUV more stable, and a new “virtual ball” front suspension allowed Jeep to custom-tailor each link to its function, whether comfort or dynamics and performance. The rear action was improved through a new 5-link rear suspension. Jeep also reconfigured the front end so the axle shaft goes through the oil pan, resulting in an engine that’s 1.6 ins. (40 mm) lower, improving vehicle dynamics.
hanks to the Quadra-Drive II 4WD system and sway bar disconnect, the ’22 Grand Cherokee – especially in Trailhawk trim – is ready to leave the pavement behind at the touch of a button. OK, a few buttons.
To experience the SUV’s climbing skills, I recently scrambled up and down steep hills on the outskirts of Moab, UT. To get the most out of the journey, we first turned on Selec-Terrain's rock mode and
put the vehicle into 4LO, turned off the sway bar and, finally, displayed the front camera on the center screen.
With all of these assistance features turned on, and some helpful spotters telling us where to line up our wheels, peering down on the town from a steep slope didn't feel risky.
For the return trip downhill, we turned on Selec-Speed Control, a sort of mountainous cruise control that can be set in 0.6-mph (1-km/h) increments. This keeps the SUV from rushing uncontrollably toward the bottom, and it works extremely well.
The entire setup – all stock, remember – is basically Rock Crawling For Dummies, and it truly opens the door to safer off-road fun.
The ’22 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be available in the coming weeks. Pricing starts at $37,390, plus a $1,795 destination charge.