The Jeep brand now leads the charge in off-road electrification capability.
Grand Cherokee is the second Jeep vehicle offering electrified underpinnings, joining the Wrangler 4xe introduced in 2021. Both qualify as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs; a recommended transition to the joys of electric vehicles without going full monte. PHEV’s enjoy a pre-set amount of pure-electric driving before seamlessly transitioning to gas-electric hybrid technology, utilizing an on-board gasoline engine and easing ‘range anxiety,’ a term coined a decade earlier describing a fear of running low or out of battery power with no apparent charge station in sight.
The generously mid-sized 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe (pronounced ‘Four By Eeee’ not ‘Four Exxx Eeee,’) offers 26 miles of pure electric driving when fully charged before switching into hybrid action providing 445 extended driving miles for an impressive, combined total of 470 miles with the gas tank topped off.
Aside from the plug-in port connector and square swing panel found on the driver’s side front fender, this 4xe’s exterior resembles its gas-counterpart in just about every visual nuance. This includes the seven-slot Jeep grille and edged, rectangular wheel wells (rather than rounded varieties). No high-tech or Star Trek highlights, just Jeep DNA.
Pop the hood, however, and newness abounds including water-sealed twin lithium-ion battery packs allowing safe forging through waters up to 24 inches. These twin packs reside under floor beneath the bucket seats straddling the driveshaft producing 400 volts within a 17-kilowatt-hour system. A conventional, gas-powered inline 2.0-liter turbo-charged engine works in tandem with two electric motor/generators. Combined horsepower reaches an impressive 375, almost double that of a conventional 2.0-liter naturally aspirated (non-turbo) four banger.
Standard in all trims, five selectable terrain modes (rock, sand/mud, snow, auto and sport) accessible via a push tab left of the ‘TorqueFlight’ eight-speed electronic automatic transmission dial between front buckets. In place of a conventional torque converter is one of the two electric motor/generators boasting 134 horsepower and an impressive 181 pound-feet of low-end torque. A smaller 44-horspower electric motor/generator connects directly to the crankshaft replacing a conventional starter.
Early on most gas-electric hybrids countered with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), great for extending fuel economy, but not recommended when towing a sizeable, heavy load behind or foraging through muddy terrain as might be expected with Jeeps. Grand Cherokee 4xe tows up to 6,000 pounds, unheard of with a conventional four-cylinder. All but the base trims include four-wheel air springs providing up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance.
This PHEV, like the gas-exclusive Grand Cherokee, accommodates five riders with 60/40-split second-row seating but no third row. Jeep recently introduced an extended version of Grand Cherokee, the ‘Grand Cherokee L’ adding 11 inches in length and a third row of seating; however, 4xe technology has yet to be included in this offering.
A power liftgate comes standard with adjustable height settings allowing extra clearance for tall folk. All 2022 Grand Cherokee V-8s, V-6s and PHEVs reflect an all-new fifth-generation, next-generation makeover.
Utilizing a ’Level 2’ 240-volt plug charges the lithium-ion battery packs in a swift 2.5 to three hours. The 240-volts is similar to those used to power household washers and dryers. However, investing in a Level two garage charger may not be necessary with the Grand Cherokee 4xe. Utilizing the provided Level 1 cord/plug fully charges this PHEV with a standard 120-volt household outlet from a depleted state in about 12 hours, workable when powering up during overnight hours when rates generally drop lower.
While pure EVs take advantage of quicker commercially-available DC (direct current) fast charging, Jeep’s 4xe family with a relatively modest 25 miles of electric range (compared with newer pure EVs reaching 250 miles) foregoes this option, saving a bit of weight.
An under-hood converter switches alternating current arriving from a level 1 or level 2 source into direct current for storage within the lithium-ion battery cells/modules sealed inside the twin battery packs. An inverter than pulls the DC battery pack power, redirecting current back to AC to power the motor generators.
As with the first generation (2011-2015) Chevrolet Volt, GM’s range-extending PHEV, Jeep’s first-generation 4xe’s recommend more expensive 91-octane premium fuel when topping off the 19-gallon tank.
Pricing starts at $57,700 for a base model. Additional uplevel 4xe trims include: Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve; an impressive list as PHEVs and EVs tend to promote only one or two trims. All come standard with Jeep’s advanced off-road Quadra-Trac off-road system with two-speed transfer case.
Our Summit Reserve 4xe tester started at $69,820 and included a $4,480 option group, $275 tech group (wireless charging), protech group (heads-up windshield display, rear-view auto dimming mirror) and $1,795 destination charge for a $79,000 bottom line. The $4,480 grouping includes a front-passenger interactive video display, Palermo leather seats/door trim, ventilated rear seats and upgraded 19-speaker Mcintosh audio.
As of this writing, the Grand Cherokee 4xe still qualifies for the Federal Government’s $7,500 EV tax credit redeemable when filling personal income taxes. This credit expires once Stellates, Jeep’s parent company, reaches 200,000 EVs or PHEVs sold.
Jeep, now entering its eighth decade, introduced a new marketing campaign in 2022 centered around the “Made for what you’re made of” theme to promote its entire go-anywhere lineup of sport utility vehicles and the pickup-inspired Gladiator.
Like the recently introduced three-row Grand Wagoneer, Grand Cherokee upticks interior styling with upgraded materials and looks including standard leather seating, soft-touch materials and wood trim. The electronic push-button start is left of the steering column at a slight angle.
The latest, fastest version of Uconnect (Uconnect 5) includes access to most-sized plug ports, including a 12-volt outlet, HDMI slot, auxiliary circle and wireless Smartphone interplay via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A sizeable 10.1-inch touch screen comes standard across all trims. Two welcome, old-school tactile dials below assist with volume control and station select.
Also welcome are secondary volume and station select buttons stationed behind the steering wheel where finger tips command toggle pads in a very ergonomically friendly fashion. This opens up the steering wheel face to a 9 o’clock position dedicated to digital instrument panel call ups while the 3 o-clock position occupies cruise control duties.
Many HVAC functions summon from the touch screen, or from push tabs and buttons below the sharp screen. At night, narrow blue pen lighting adorns the four doors and the dashboard.
A row of buttons above the screen summon several commands including an enhanced regenerative braking function. As with most EVs and PHEVs, regenerative braking captures and stores mechanical braking friction during the stopping process for use as electricity later. When pushed, this button increases friction, in effect slowing the vehicle at a quicker pace when lifting the right foot off the accelerator pedal.
Jeep positions a row of three blue-illuminated E-select buttons left of the steering column just above the headlight twist dial. The system defaults to ‘hybrid’ mode during starts. The ‘E-save’ option disengages the lithium-ion battery pack, utilizing the gas engine, saving pure battery power for more opportune times. The ’electric’ button choice allows operation in pure electric mode ideal during stop-and-go, around-town travel while also creating energy through regenerative braking.
When completely stopped, the system disengages the gas engine to operate in electric mode no matter the E-select option selected until the gas pedal gets summoned saving gasoline and limiting tail pipe emissions.
Shot gun passengers can order up their own dedicated 10.25-inch touch screen above the glove box with polarizing filters out of the driver’s sights allowing front passengers to watch videos. Let’s not forget about second-row travelers who have an opportunity to enjoy a pair of optional ten-inch dual screens.
An added value arriving last year at no additional charge is “Jeep Wave,” including complimentary oil changes and tire rotation for three years (with no mileage limitations), 24/7 phone support, first day loaner coverage and access to exclusive Jeep experiential events.
2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe
Price as tested: $79,000
Gas Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I-4
Battery type: Lithium-ion
Total Horsepower: 375
Wheelbase: 116.7 inches
Overall Length: 193.5 inches
Overall Width: 77.5 inches
Overall Height: 70.8 inches
Curb Weight: 5,558 pounds
Towing capacity: 6,000 pounds
Powertrain warranty: Five years/60,000 miles
Assembly: Detroit, Michigan