Text & Photos by Ricardo Rodriguez-Long
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the most popular midsize SUVs in the country. With over 200,000 sold annually, this vehicle has become one of the best options for the family. Especially if you live in areas where the weather may affect the commute and / or you like to camp out with your family and friends.
The newest version now has a premium feel that elevates this Jeep to another class. Available in six trims (Laredo, Altitude, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, and Summit), the top-of-the-line offers luxury only found in imports until now. But true to its name, I can testify that it offers the best 4x4 capabilities in the segment. There is one more option, the 4xe Plug-in power plant that incorporates two electrical motors that assist in slow traffic, acceleration, and of course, when you are in a tight spot on the trail.
The interior is what impressed me the most. Chris Benjamin, head of interior design, told me: " We wanted to offer a real premium feel. From the seat stitching and diamond design, the colors, etc. Take what a Grand Cherokee is known for (4x4), and now offer the best premium interior. Something that people were not expecting from us". The results speak for themselves. I crossed references with the Acura MDX, Lexus RX, Cadillac XT5, and BMW X5. And Mr. Benjamin did put the Grand Cherokee in another level while maintaining the price point.
The Grand Cherokee is available with a V6, V8, and the 2-liter Turbo Hybrid (4xe). I am impressed with the latter. This 4xe package combines the best of today's engine tech and gives you alternatives to save on fuel consumption. The PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid) has three options on how to operate. As a Hybrid, the car optimizes the drivetrain to determine the mix of the 4-cylinder motor use and the electric assist for the best fuel efficiency and performance combination. You can choose the all-electric mode and get instant torque (great when going up on a steep hill climb) or drive for about 25 miles without using any gas. I like this option for heavy stop-and-go traffic. There is one more setting, the e-Save mode, that lets you save the power in the battery for you to use when you needed. With a Level-2 charger, it only takes two and half hours to fully charge the battery (if it is without any charge at all).
Because it is a Jeep, the off-road capabilities remain very strong. The TrailHawk version is the most capable, but I can testify that any model is more than capable of tackling the worst roads. I drove a 4xe and an Overland through bad roads and water streams, and I was amazed at their competence. Even with street tires, the off-road systems ensure you can keep moving forward. I faced 30 degrees hill climbs that were pure wet granite, and one by one, the wheels found a way to get a grip and move ahead. This Jeep has a selector to choose between five terrain modes—this changes the suspension, engine mapping, and brake settings to better perform on a specific surface. The low range makes the Grand Cherokee crawl pretty much over anything that is ahead. To drive in luxury and comfort and be able to get to places where you only see modified Wranglers is very special.
This car is well equipped, with the latest tech and safety driver-aids. A wireless phone charger in the center console is oversized to accommodate all-size phones. The updated U-Connect interface is easy to use on the 10.1-inch screen. There is an additional screen for the passenger in the front seat. So your "navigator" can help you with directions as your drive. They will also have access to stream movies, Fire TV, and control all the media in the car. This screen is a great addition. Something else I like is the upgraded suspension that includes air shocks. These can also raise the vehicle to get a ten-inch ground clearance when need it. On the highway and the city, the drive was very smooth. I forgot it was on board a full 4x4 vehicle that I was driving.
The 2022 Grand Cherokee starts at $38,000, and a loaded-up Summit (with one of the most luxurious interiors in the industry)can get to $58,000. They are not the lowest price in the segment, but you get a lot for your money. I think it is the best Jeep overall.
With the new interior, stylish exterior, and increased road comfort (thanks to air suspension), this vehicle is hard to compare to others. A combination of opposites (luxury and 4x4) that it is so well executed, it makes it hard not to consider it as the one family vehicle that can do it all.