It’s been a busy year for Jeep, which has rolled out a procession of new and updated products over the last several years.
That includes a complete makeover of the familiar Grand Cherokee, which saw the introduction of not only a new stretched, three-row model but also a first-ever plug-in hybrid that could change the way you go off-roading.
The air is still and nearly silent, but for the sound of a mourning dove, a babbling stream, and the crunch of tires on gravel. What’s notably absent is the roar of an internal combustion engine. I’ve headed deep into Texas Hill Country for the day, an opportunity to check out the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe.
Like the rest of the industry, Jeep is beginning to electrify its lineup. The process began with the rollout of the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid last year — which, according to the EPA, allows a driver to clock an estimated 21 miles in all-electric mode on the road.
But what really seems to have connected with buyers is the ability to save the battery charge, and then use it to operate in near silence for up to 3 hours when off road.
Whatever the reason, the Wrangler 4xe is now the bestselling PHEV in the U.S. And Jeep is betting it can duplicate that success with the plug-in version of the all-new Grand Cherokee.
Jeep 4xe Powertrain
The Wrangler and Grand Cherokee 4xe models share the same powertrain with only the most minor of modifications. There’s a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four gas engine paired with a single electric motor that, in turn, draws energy from a 17.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
The combined system pushes out 375 horsepower — 82 more than the Grand Cherokee’s V6 option — and 470 pound-feet of torque. Power is directed through an eight-speed automatic transmission into one of two available 4×4 systems, the Quadra-Trac II and the Quadra-Drive II.
The system is smooth and quick on the highway. At a factory-rated 6.0 seconds from 0-60, it comes in 1.5 seconds faster than the Grand Cherokee’s conventional V6, and a second faster than its optional V8. I had no problem pushing into triple digits, though please don’t tell that to the Texas Rangers.
Range and Mileage
The Grand Cherokee 4xe is EPA-rated at 23 mpg Combined using only the gas engine. It also gets a 56 MPGe Combined rating.
Though heavier, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is estimated to deliver an electric-only range of 25 miles per charge, 4 miles more than the Wrangler plug-in — something that reflects the bigger model’s better aerodynamics, according to Jeep’s chief engineer.
As with the Wrangler, you can toggle through a variety of different powertrain modes, including conventional (fuel-saving) hybrid, or a power-saver mode that reserves the battery for later use. That’s what was done with the 4xe I’ve now taken deep into the woods. Switching over to all-electric mode, the internal combustion shuts off with nary a sigh. Suddenly, nature comes alive.
When the Going Gets Rough
Of course, the real question is how the 4xe drivetrain will perform once the trail gets rough. It doesn’t take long to find out. Ahead of me is a massive lump of limestone, rising out of the foliage like a 10-story wart.
The good news is that I’m driving the Overland edition, which offers better approach and departure angles, as well as grippy 21-inch Continental CrossContact tires.
I switch to low range and put the terrain control system into “Rock” mode. This immediately optimizes a variety of vehicle settings for unique conditions that can also include snow and mud. Then, with the help of a spotter, I maneuver the nose of my Grand Cherokee up against the big rock and gently squeeze the throttle.
If you’ve not spent time in a new EV, here’s where the fun begins. Electric motors produce virtually 100% of peak torque the moment they start spinning. And that means the nose of my Jeep is quickly pointing toward the sky, those big tires helping me claw my way to the top.
It’s actually less work to deal with obstacles like this in all-electric mode than with the gas engine alone. That translates into a greater sense of confidence — and fun.
Back on level ground, I have the opportunity to take a second look at the new Grand Cherokee 4xe. A close inspection reveals that little has changed from the conventional 2-row model — primarily blue accents, including the tow hooks on my Overland — and the charger door on the front fender.
The plug-in isn’t a unique, standalone model. The 4xe drivetrain is offered as an option on the various 2022 Grand Cherokee trims, including the Limited, Trailhawk, and Overland — though only on the standard wheelbase line. Jeep officials aren’t saying whether there’ll be a plug-in option available at a later date for the three-row Grand Cherokee L.
Even so, the short-wheelbase version of the 2022 Grand Cherokee covers a lot of territory. And top trim packages are lavishly equipped, with details like real wood and leather, double cross-stitching, and knurled knobs.
The SUV can be loaded up with screens, front and back, including a small display built into the instrument panel for the passenger riding shotgun.
One of my favorite features is the audio system, which was developed by McIntosh, complete with an app for the touchscreen replicating that brand’s familiar analog needle display.
As with other versions of the Grand Cherokee, the 4xe models feature the latest Uconnect infotainment touchscreen system. Jeep claims that this system operates five times faster than the technology in the last-generation Grand Cherokee. I did find it to be generally quick loading and responsive, and not have the very apparent lag found in the outgoing vehicle.
Add tech features like a head-up display, infrared night vision, and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. There’s also a broad range of advanced driver assistance systems, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, park assist, and surround view.
But the automaker hasn’t gone completely overboard with digital controls. There remain real manual controls for the climate control, as well as an actual tuning knob.
2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe Pricing
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe starts at $57,700. To get serious about off-roading, however, you should consider either the Trailhawk package, at $62,485, or the seriously well-equipped Overland 4xe, which jumps to $65,760 before options. If luxury is what you’re after, the Summit Reserve starts at $74,300.
Jeep isn’t the only game in town if you’re looking for a plug-in SUV. Similarly sized options include the Lincoln Aviator PHEV and the Volvo XC60 T8 AWD Recharge. But the Grand Cherokee has a lot going for it with a blend of luxury features and off-road capabilities that are hard to beat.
It’s too early to tell whether the 4xe package will prove as popular as it has in the Jeep Wrangler, but it’s certainly a smart choice. Find your local Jeep dealer and explore the new Grand Cherokee 4xe for yourself.