AUSTIN, TX – As we reported last fall (“2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Improves Off-Road – 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 some $10,000 higher than V-6 models.
As we said then, the ’22 Grand Cherokee – newly available in both two-row and stretched three-row “L” models – is new from tire patch to roof rails. It offers a finely crafted (and roomier) new interior in a handsome new exterior on a stiffer, stronger new architecture.
And it delivers best-ever capability thanks to a choice of Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II or Quadra-Drive II 4x4 systems, class-exclusive Quadra-Lift air suspension – now with electronic semi-active damping that provides up to a class-leading 11.3 ins. (28.7 cm) of ground clearance and 24 ins. (61 cm) of water fording – and (on Trailhawk models only) a new, class-exclusive disconnecting front sway bar for improved articulation and surer footing over rocks and rough terrain.
Its very user-friendly Uconnect 5 infotainment system is managed by a 10.1-in. (25.6-cm) digital touchscreen – thankfully with volume and tune/scroll knobs and hard buttons for HVAC – as well as 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 twin 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-Path Detection, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Advanced Brake Assist, Blindspot Monitoring, a back-up camera and Rear Park Assist 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-view camera with front and rear washers and (SAE Level 2) Active Driving Assist semi-automated driving.
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 personalized stations powered by Pandora, TomTom navigation with predictive search, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capable of connecting up to eight devices, natural-speech live traffic updates, over-the-air map updates and a new 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh audio system.
And new for 4x4s is front-axle disconnect. If road conditions don’t require AWD, it automatically shifts to rear-wheel drive to reduce driveline drag and improve fuel economy. AWD automatically re-engages when the vehicle senses that 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 4x4 system with a two-speed transfer case, 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio and 47.4:1 crawl ratio.
Available in Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve trims, the 4xe hybrid propulsion system teams 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 manage output from the engine and e-motor, and a liquid-cooled motor/generator (connected by a belt to the engine 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 optimum temperature, and with all high-voltage electronics sealed and waterproof, a Trail Rated Grand 4xe can ford up to 2 ft. (61 cm) of water. Mounted under the body and protected with 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.
Selec-Terrain provides Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow and Mud/Sand modes, and the 4xe system adds three driver-selectable hybrid modes. Electric mode operates EV-only until the battery reaches minimum charge (and transitions to Hybrid) or the driver steps on the gas to request more torque, which engages the engine. Hybrid mode blends motor and engine torque to optimize performance and efficiency. E-Save prioritizes the engine, saving the battery charge for later use and can recharge the battery while driving.
The clutch between the engine and motor is open in Electric mode to eliminate mechanical drag, then closes in Hybrid mode to combine torque from both. The second clutch behind the e-motor manages transmission engagement to improve drivability and efficiency. Regenerative braking from all four wheels (when 4x4 is engaged) sends charge back to the battery during normal braking and coasting, and a selectable Max Regen feature provides somewhat more aggressive slowing while generating more electricity for the battery.
Specific to our test Trailhawk 4xe are Quadra-Drive II with two-speed transfer case and 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, a rear electronic limited-slip differential, Selec-Terrain traction management, Selec-Speed Control, disconnecting front sway bar and 10.9 ins. (27.8 cm) of ground clearance. Trailhawk visual cues include blue-accented 18-in. wheels with all-terrain tires, blue tow hooks and a black-and-blue matte “Trailhawk” hood decal.
Our test route was mostly two-lane, some of it twisty and some unpaved, most driven fairly aggressively, and we were greatly impressed with the Trailhawk’s performance, handling steering and braking despite its hefty weight. It also was pleasingly quiet at speed, and its seats provided excellent long-term comfort. We started at 99% state-of-charge and achieved a surprising 29 miles (47 km) – (four [6.4 km] more than expected) – in EV-only mode using Max Regen before it transparently switched to Hybrid mode and started the engine.
Our drive ended with an extremely challenging off-road course, much of it scaling tall, steep bare rocks with surprising ease… demonstrating capability that was truly amazing. Total trip fuel economy was 20.7 mpg (11.4 L/100 km) before the off-road course, 20.0 mpg (11.8 L/100 km) afterward.
Also impressive were the new Grand Cherokee’s driver information and infotainment systems. The screen provides virtually all the information anyone could want in five reconfigurable segments, the Uconnect is intuitive and easy (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 plugs 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 competitor in a highly competitive segment. But not inexpensive at $58,000-$70,000 depending on trim and options.