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Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe 2022 review

Electric vehicles are about more than just the city, just ask the Grand Cherokee 4xe.
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Electrification is coming for everyone in the automotive space, and that includes brands that have built their reputation on rugged outdoor adventures. But does the addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain help or hinder a vehicle like the Jeep Grand Cherokee? We put the new 4Xe PHEV to the test to find out.

Still think electrified vehicles are all about buzzing around the city in zippy, eco-friendly silence? Well Jeep reckons it's time to think again.

In fact, it says its new Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid is every bit as capable as the brand's traditional petrol-powered models when it comes to tackling the rough stuff, only this one can do it all in pure-electric mode, leaving – as those travel guide books might say – nothing but footprints in whatever land it is you're crossing/climbing/fording.

The 4xe forms part of a new-look (and all-new) Jeep Grand Cherokee range, acting as a flagship model above the five- and seven-seat versions that will arrive in Australia this year, ahead of the plug-in hybrid's debut in 2023.

Read more about the Jeep Grand Cherokee

Short version? It looks and feels more premium, has a far more polished interior, and will be wearing a much bigger price tag.

Which of those three 'P's matters most? Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Much mystery surrounds the Grand Cherokee 4xe, and we don’t know yet how many trim levels it will arrive in, or what each will cost. But we do know one thing — it won’t be cheap.

Expect the plug-in hybrid variant to be the flagship model in the new Grand Cherokee range, and we’re tipping a starting price somewhere north of $100k. 

That’s a sizeable chunk of change for a premium SUV, let alone a mainstream model, but we’re confident in that call. Put it this way, the seven-seat Grand Cherokee L in top-spec Summit Reserve guise starts at $65,000 in the USA, and $115,000 in Australia, which means the $62,880 starting price of the Trailhawk 4xe in the USA should see our Aussie pricing prediction coming true.

What do you get for that investment? Well, aside from the obvious electrification kit, the 4xe is offered internationally in base guise, then Trailhawk, Overland and Summit Reserve, though Jeep is yet to confirm which of those trims will arrive in Australia. 

So we’ll focus on the Trailhawk model for now, which is high on Australia’s wish-list, and the model we spent the most time in.

The Trailhawk trim arrives with 18-inch wheels wrapped in adventure rubber (other more road-focused models get 20-inch alloys). The Trailhawk trim arrives with 18-inch wheels wrapped in adventure rubber (other more road-focused models get 20-inch alloys).

And if the price is the bad news, then the good news is that this looks and feels like a far more premium offering than the vehicle it replaces, inside and out.

In the States, the Trailhawk trim arrives with 18-inch wheels wrapped in adventure rubber (other more road-focused models get 20-inch alloys), LED exterior lighting with auto headlights and a hands-free powered tailgate. 

Inside, it gets capri leather and suede seats, massive 8.4- and 10.1-inch screens with navigation and Apple CarPlay, a nine-speaker stereo (a high-end Mcintosh system is also available), multi-zone climate, wireless charging and a whole host of safety kit that we’ll come back to in a moment.

The Trailhawk badge is reserved for Jeep’s most off-road-ready models, and the 4xe delivers with bright blue tow hooks, Sway Bar Disconnect for better front-wheel articulation in 4WD Low mode, an electronic limited slip differential, Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II and Qaudra-Trac II with a two-speed low transfer case and the ability to send 100 per cent torque either axle, and five drive modes, including off-road-specific settings.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

From the outside, there’s no doubt the Grand Cherokee has an improved and more modern road presence. The track has been increased and the wheelbase lengthened, but much of the new look goes into the design effort, which has made this new model look wider and tougher than its predecessor, especially in Trailhawk guise with its blacked-out design elements.

Even Jeep’s iconic grille has been updated, with the seven slots now less in-your-face, despite a new 3D effect that seems to extend beyond the length of the bonnet.

How do you know it’s a plug-in hybrid? By looking very closely. There’s the charge port, of course, but also through the blue tracing on the Jeep badging, and, on the Trailhawk model, the blue tow hooks. 

But the whole electric thing here is definitely understated. Jeep says it doesn’t want to yell about it, which is why the Grand Cherokee barely whispers it.

The track has been increased and the wheelbase lengthened, but much of the new look goes into the design effort, which has made this new model look wider and tougher than its predecessor. The track has been increased and the wheelbase lengthened, but much of the new look goes into the design effort, which has made this new model look wider and tougher than its predecessor.

We took a snap-poll of onlookers at the Grand Cherokee's big reveal, and the results were fairly unanimous – this is a significantly better and more modern-looking vehicle than the version it is replacing.

And that's even more true in the cabin, where even Jeep admits the current model is beginning to feel clunky, chunky and outdated.

Instead, this new version pares back the cabin detailing, with a single 10.1-inch central screen that controls mostly everything you need, a second screen in the driver's binnacle for your on-road info. It's a genuinely strong tech offering, and one that's easy to use and quick to understand.

This new version pares back the cabin detailing, with a single 10.1-inch central screen that controls mostly everything you need, a second screen in the driver's binnacle for your on-road information. This new version pares back the cabin detailing, with a single 10.1-inch central screen that controls mostly everything you need, a second screen in the driver's binnacle for your on-road information.

There's also the option of a third screen for the passenger, as well as seat-back screens for backseat riders which, in the USA at least, can stream everything from Amazon Prime to Disney Plus, controlled through a TV-style remote.

It's a calming, premium-feeling space, helped by the simple rotary-style shifter for gear selection, and the touch handbrake rather than a foot pedal offering, but I sill think they could have gone further, with both the steering wheel and parts of the centre console still feeling a bit like a festival of buttons, especially when compared to modern EVs.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The new Grand Cherokee stretches around 4.9m in length and 2.1m in width, and Jeep says the addition of a battery and electric motor has been squeezed in without any compromise to practicality.

While Australian specifics are still being finalised, American specs point to a 40-litre increase in boot space in five-seat Grand Cherokee models, while backseat space is genuinely generous for rear occupants.

I found more than enough room sitting behind my own 175cm driving position, with enough knee room and headroom to feel comfortable, and enough width across the back to fit three adults across the back in something approaching comfort.

Backseat riders get their own air vents, as well as clever USB ports that are both USB-A and USB-C ready, so matter what cord you bring, you're sorted. Backseat riders get their own air vents, as well as clever USB ports that are both USB-A and USB-C ready, so matter what cord you bring, you're sorted.

Backseat riders get their own air vents, as well as clever USB ports that are both USB-A and USB-C ready, so matter what cord you bring, you're sorted.

In terms of off-road credibility, the 4xe Trailhawk will deliver better approach and departure angles than its predecessor, around 278mm of ground clearance, 610mm of water-fording ability, and a 47.4:1 crawl ratio, while towing is limited to 2720kg braked.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

A clever plug-in hybrid system essentially takes the place of a diesel engine here, with more power and less fuel use, but also less towing.

The Grand Cherokee 4xe combines a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with two electric motors, the bigger of which provides extra driving power and EV mode. All up, Jeep says you’ll get 280kW and 675Nm combined when working in hybrid mode.

A clever plug-in hybrid system essentially takes the place of a diesel engine here, with more power and less fuel use, but also less towing. A clever plug-in hybrid system essentially takes the place of a diesel engine here, with more power and less fuel use, but also less towing.

That power is fed through an eight-speed TorqueFlight transmission and is sent to all four wheels, or just the rear tyres when the front axle is disconnected to reduce fuel use.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The 4xe’s 400-volt, 17kWh battery should deliver a 40km driving range, and we found that estimate to be pretty much on the money in full EV mode.

The 4xe’s 400-volt, 17kWh battery should deliver a 40km driving range. The 4xe’s 400-volt, 17kWh battery should deliver a 40km driving range.Fuel use is a little confusing. America’s EPA rates the 4xe at 4.2L/100km, but only if you’re utilising full EV mode. Driven as a regular hybrid, the number is a not-as-impressive 10.2L/100km.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

All cars can - or, at least, should be able to - carry you and your brood with varying levels of comfort or performance. That's pretty much job one, right?

But only a handful can carry you to some scenic lookout, and then, should you feel like it, drive straight over the edge of that cliff and down the mountainside without breaking stride.

The new Grand Cherokee 4xe? It’s definitely one of those cars.

Because while it’s not every day that you’re faced with a worryingly sheer rock face, and then calmly told to drive right up on it, the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Trailhawk also isn’t your every day family hauler.

Staring straight out of the windscreen, looking at nothing but flat, grey rock, the Grand Cherokee mounts its front tyres on the slippery surface, and then - scrabbling for grip - brings the rear end around until you’re facing the rock straight on. And, then remarkably easily, you’re on your way up, the Grand Cherokee lifting a rear tyre high off the ground, performing a kind of three-wheel ballet as it finds its line than climbs it with ease.

Jeep fitted the 4xe with a clever eSave mode that allows you to essentially turn off the electric motor and use nothing but petrol power on the way to your off-road destination. Jeep fitted the 4xe with a clever eSave mode that allows you to essentially turn off the electric motor and use nothing but petrol power on the way to your off-road destination.

If getting up was scary, getting down again was genuinely terrifying — this time with the added soundtrack of rock scraping against the hard bash plates under the body — but again the Grand Cherokee 4xe powers on.

It's honestly impressive stuff, and would be from any off-road focused SUV. But this party trick is made even cooler by the fact the Grand Cherokee is doing it all in whisper-quiet EV mode, and emitting nothing from its exhaust pipes.

In fact, so keen is Jeep for its owners to experience EV off-roading, it ha fitted the 4xe with a clever eSave mode (as well as Hybrid and Electric modes) that allows you to essentially turn off the electric motor and use nothing but petrol power on the way to your off-road destination, preserving the full 40km EV driving range for when you get there. The 2.0-litre petrol engine also acts as trickle charger, recharging the battery en route so you have maximum charge when you arrive.

On the road, though, all-electric mode is a predictably quiet and easy drive. Go easy on the accelerator - pushing it to the floor will automatically reengage the petrol engine - and the Grand Cherokee happily hums along. We ended up getting around 34kms before the petrol motor kicked back in, which isn't far off the target range.

It’s not flawless as a pure EV – it lacks the out-and-out urgency and range of a dedicated electric vehicle – but it also changes the large SUV drive experience massively.

The downside is that the Grand Cherokee can feel a little under-engined at times – like when you've run the battery flat and you're mostly depending on the smaller petrol engine – and the gearbox can feel busy trying to find the most power for the right situation, despite it, on paper, producing the same torque as a V8-powered SRT.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine also acts as trickle charger, recharging the battery en route so you have maximum charge when you arrive. The 2.0-litre petrol engine also acts as trickle charger, recharging the battery en route so you have maximum charge when you arrive.

It can also feel aggressively reactive at freeway speeds, jumping down several cogs and delivering a burst of power when you merely caress the accelerator.

But it is predominately a comfortable, quiet (although the Trailhawk's special rubber can be noisier on the wrong road surface) and genuinely premium-feeling drive experience, helped along by the interior tech which really lifts the cabin experience, too.

It also feels a long way removed from the current Grand Cherokee, as well it should given the age of that vehicle, and that's no bad thing either.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / 100,000 km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

Jeep is yet to confirmed safety specification for Australia, but is quick to point out that there are more than 110 safety features on board here, including the semi-autonomous Active Driving Assist, a 360-degree camera and Night Vision.

It's also worth pointing out here that standard kit on the Grand Cherokee L which will launch in Australia next month arrives with Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Path Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Active Lane Management, AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection and traffic sign recognition as standard kit.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Jeep’s in Australia are covered by a five-year, 100,000km warranty, which is a little off the pace in a world of seven- and eight-year coverage windows.

Jeep also caps serving costs at $399 per visit for the first five visits for petrol-powered Grand Cherokees, and will give you another 12-months free roadside assistance after each and every service.

Verdict

Electrification is coming to an off-road track near you, and few will be able to handle the tough stuff as easily as the Grand Cherokee 4xe.

But just as important is that fact that, on- or off-road, this all-new Jeep feels like it's come a long way from the ageing Grand Cherokee currently patrolling Australia.

By this time next year Jeep will have a five-seat, seven-seat and electrified version of its flagship SUV on the road in Australia, which means it will be ready to mount its most convincing attack on the segment in years.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel, accommodation and meals provided.

Pricing guides

$100,450
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$60,450
Highest Price
$140,450

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Limited (4x4) 3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $87,950 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2022 Limited (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Night Eagle (4X4) 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $66,950 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2022 Night Eagle (4X4) Pricing and Specs
S-Limited (4X4) 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $74,450 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2022 S-Limited (4X4) Pricing and Specs
S-Overland (4X4) 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $84,450 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2022 S-Overland (4X4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety7
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.