Now with hybrid option, Jeep’s ’22 Grand Cherokee courts upmarket, outdoorsy buyers
Hot on the heels of the all-new, three-row Grand Cherokee L, the fifth generation of Jeep’s stalwart, two-row Grand Cherokee has just appeared in all its luxury-laden, off-road-ready glory. We’ve come a long way since Bob Lutz put the original Grand Cherokee through a glass wall at Cobo Hall in Detroit in 1992. As the world prepares to cannonball into electrification, the 2022 Grand Cherokee and its optional hybrid powertrain will play a big role for Jeep. The brand faithful need not worry that the new vehicle has gone soft, however; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Let’s dive into the details.
The 2022 Grand Cherokee rides on an all-new architecture (same as the three-row L) dubbed WL75. The fifth-gen SUV is both taller and longer than the model it replaces, riding roughly 1.5 inches higher and measuring 3.5 inches more from nose to tail. Relative to its contemporary sibling, the L, the ’22 Grand Cherokee chops five inches from the wheelbase and 11.4 from overall length. The two utes share the same width, however, making solid use of all 84.6 inches cross-wise.
Like the L, the new Grand Cherokee wears a more upright design in front with a larger, seven-slot grille and boxier, more voluminous proportions through the passenger area. Impressively, Jeep’s designers managed to execute that larger greenhouse despite lowering the roofline by just over a quarter inch. The whole package is remarkably handsome, equally as good-looking as its three-row sibling.
The biggest news comes in the powertrain department. As expected, there will be an electrified version of the new Grand Cherokee, wearing the same 4xe (“four by e”) designation as the hybrid Wrangler. The Grand Cherokee 4xe is a plug-in affair with a 17-kWh battery pack and two electric motors to supplement the existing 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder. Between the transmission-mounted electric motor, the belt-driven unit that replaces the alternator, and the conventional gas four-banger, combined powertrain output peaks at 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. That’s no joke, especially when you consider that the 4xe’s battery holds enough juice for roughly 25 miles of pure-electric range and can return a Jeep-estimated 57 MPGe while cruising. The 4xe’s availability is similarly impressive; you can get your electrified Grand Cherokee as a Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, or Summit Reserve.
Elsewhere in the engine selections, there’s the ubiquitous 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, good for 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, good for 357 ponies and 390 lb-ft. Spec the six, and you can tow up to 6200 pounds properly equipped. Spring for the Hemi and that figure climbs to 7200. All three powertrain options pair with an eight-speed ZF TorqueFlite automatic. In the 4xe model, the torque converter is replaced by an electric motor.
Like the Grand Cherokee L, this new two-row will offer three different 4×4 systems: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II. All three systems feature an active transfer case to shuffle torque front and back, depending on which axle can make better use of it. Quadra-Trac I features a single-speed transfer case, while Quadra-Trac II offers a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low gear ratio. The top-shelf Quadra-Drive II includes the two-speed transfer case plus an electronic limited-slip rear differential.
Higher trims will get Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension, now featuring semi-active damping to help quell road imperfections even further. The real plus to Quadra-Lift comes away from the pavement, however, where its height adjustment allows for up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance and 24 inches of water fording capability. The lower trims receive a more traditional damper system.
Jeep is pressing even further into its off-road legacy with the Trailhawk sub-brand. While everyone else scrambles to assemble cosmetic packages and a few mild mechanical upgrades (Looking at you, Honda Passport TrailSport), Jeep continues to make an already capable ute even better. The new Grand Cherokee Trailhawk features a class-exclusive front sway-bar disconnect to help bolster the front suspension’s articulation on uneven trails and rock gardens. Other Trailhawk features include red tow hooks, 18-inch wheels with chunky all-terrain rubber, high-strength steel skid plates, and a black hood decal to reduce glare. There’s a 4xe version of the Trailhawk as well that trades the red-accents of the gas-only model for sweet blue ones. Lest you think adding plug-in hybrid components would make this Grand Cherokee any less capable, Jeep was quick to point out that the 4xe trim still conquered the 22-mile Rubicon Trail with aplomb—entirely under electric power. This comes as no surprise to us after our stint in the Wrangler 4xe—adding electric crawl capability bolsters a Jeep’s already massive off-road appeal.
The interior might be the biggest leap forward compared to the previous generation. Gone are the chunky matte plastic buttons and bulbous trim pieces; instead, you’ll find a smorgasbord of wood inlays, shapely strips of aluminum, and subtly integrated dark plastics. There’s a new, 10.1-inch central infotainment screen running UConnect 5, as well as a similarly-sized screen for a digital instrument cluster. Heavily optioned models get a 10.25-inch screen in front of the passenger, similar to what you’ll find on the much ritzier Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. Pricier Grand Cherokees will also get massaging front-row seats to ease the stress of those long-haul journeys. The seats will pair perfectly with the 19-speaker McIntosh high-end audio system as you let the dulcet tones of John Coltrane and his ilk waft you from adventure to adventure.
The configurator for the all-new 2022 Grand Cherokee is live on the Jeep site, but prices are conspicuously absent as of this writing. As with the three-row L, though, expect this much off-road capability and interior equipment to come at a premium. We’d expect the trim walk to start a few thousand higher than the mainstream competitors and climb much higher; a $75,000 Grand Cherokee is a distinct possibility. Jeep says that non-4xe Grand Cherokees will arrive at North American dealerships in the fourth quarter of this year, while 4xe models will arrive early next year.
With no marque that’s a true luxury competitor (Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are technically a sub-brand competing in the the body-on-frame arena, but that’s far from the only battleground for monied buyers), Stellantis must lean heavily on Jeep to cover a wide swathe of potential customers. As first impressions go, we’d say the all-new 2022 Grand Cherokee is more than up for the upmarket challenge.