For nearly a decade, Jeep stood on the sidelines and watched other automakers cash in with lucrative sales of 3-row crossovers and SUVs. That changed in 2021 with the introduction of the all-new Grand Cherokee L -- a Grand Cherokee with three rows of seats and room for seven passengers.
For 2022, Jeep has readied an all-new 2-row Grand Cherokee using the same platform and design as the Grand Cherokee L, only it's nearly 12 inches shorter than the larger model. Competitors to the Grand Cherokee include Acura MDX, BMW X5, Buick Envision, Cadillac CT5, Genesis GV70, Infiniti QX60, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Volvo XC60. In addition to being all-new for '22, Jeep has added a plug-in hybrid version.
Under the hood are two carryover powertrains -- the 293-horsepower V6 and 357-horsepower V8 -- plus a new plug-in hybrid system Jeep calls the 4xe. It utilizes a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and electric motor to produce a total output of 375 horsepower. With a fully charged battery, the 4xe can drive about 20-25 miles on all-electric power before the gasoline four-cylinder engine switches on. All powertrains utilize an eight-speed automatic transmission. V6 models come standard with rear-wheel drive, though 4-wheel drive is available. 4WD is included with V8 and 4xe models. Grand Cherokee towing capability is 6,200-pounds with the V6 and 7,200 pounds with the V8.
With prices ranging from $41,000 to $66,000, trim levels include Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland and Summit. Standard equipment includes LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, roof rails, tri-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable driver's seat, sliding second-row captain's chairs, proximity keyless entry and push-button start, 10.25-inch driver information display, 8.4-inch touchscreen with wireless support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six-speaker stereo system, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision warning with brake intervention. The Trailhawk trim adds Goodyear Wrangler Territory all-terrain tires, adaptive air suspension with selectable ride height settings, electronic rear limited-slip differential, electronically disconnecting stabilizer bar, hill ascent and descent control, front tow hooks, front-facing camera, gloss black roof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, ventilated front seats, leather upholstery with faux leather and faux suede accents, navigation system and 9-speaker Alpine audio system.
With the exception of the new 4xe model (which has not yet been tested) Grand Cherokee engines are pretty much a carry over, meaning turbo-types need not apply. You see, Jeep believes there's no replacement for displacement. It's something very true in the large vehicle space where typically smaller turbocharged engines have to work much harder to keep up, reducing any fuel efficiency gains. The base 3.6-liter V6 provides solid, albeit not overwhelming acceleration and passing response. The problem comes with a full load of passengers, trailer or cargo when the engine just doesn't have the torque to keep up. Still, when empty the V6 will push the Grand Cherokee from 0 to 60 MPH in about 8.5 seconds, perhaps a bit below the class norm.
Never fear though, Jeep has got a solution for those willing to pay extra ... a wonderfully torquey and powerful 5.7-liter V8. This engine might consume more fuel, but its plenty powerful regardless of passenger or cargo load. Its 0 to 60 MPH time is just 6.5 seconds, but more importantly, it's got instant, and seemingly endless, passing punch. The V8 is also smoother than the sometimes-snarly V6.
Both engines mate well to the 8-speed automatic. It's a great transmission that provides smooth upshifts and prompt downshifts.
In addition to rear-wheel drive, the Grand Cherokee offers three different 4-wheel-drive systems. Quadra-Trac I is a single-speed all-wheel drive system, similar to what you might find in most crossover vehicles. Quadra-Trac II is a true 4-wheel-drive system with a 2-speed transfer case. Quadra-Drive II adds a limited-slip differential to the rear axle for even more sure-footed off-road driving. With three different systems on tap, buyers can choose a 4-wheel-drive system that meets their needs. Most will be more than fine with Quadra-Trac I, but it's nice to have two step-up systems for those so inclined.
Rear-drive V6 models net 19/26 MPG EPA ratings. At the other end of the spectrum, 4-wheel-drive V8s get ratings of 14/22 MPG. The V6 runs fine on regular-grade gasoline while the V8 calls for mid-grade gasoline. In routine suburban commuting expect to see about 19 MPG with the V6 and perhaps 17 MPG with the V8. While those numbers greatly trail competitors, remember, Grand Cherokee is a true off-road SUV with impressive trailer-towing capacity.
Dynamically, the Grand Cherokee effectively splits the difference between the comfortable ride of a crossover and the off-road ruggedness of a SUV. In most cases, occupants are treated to a smooth and even-keeled experience, though when the road gets really rough, Grand Cherokee's trucky nature leaks out in the form an extra oscillation or two from the rear suspension or a small jolt over an expansion joint at the front. Stepping up in trim generally brings larger wheels and tires that impact ride quality and overall handling. As a result, be sure to test drive the exact vehicle you are considering. There is also an optional air suspension that further enhances ride quality.
Grand Cherokee offers enough composure for most drivers, though. The steering is direct and has good highway on-center feel. Still, it can feel a little slow at parking speeds. Brakes have ample stopping power and an easy-to-modulate pedal. For the most part, body lean is kept in check. In quick transitions, the rear end falls a bit behind the front and creates a secondary motion that requires a steering correction.
Jeep has done a great job of addressing the interior noise problems of the outgoing model. The new Grand Cherokee is indeed extremely quiet when cruising. However, both engines can intrude in hard acceleration and the V8 has a throaty exhaust note.
New from stem to stern, perhaps the most noticeable change in Grand Cherokee is its refreshed interior. Materials get a huge upgrade and the design is much more modern and features digital screens and impressive technology. There's a lot of piano-black plastic on the center console, but the dashboard, door panels and headliner boast rich woods, leathers and fabrics that seem a class above the SUV norm.
With the increase in wheelbase, Grand Cherokee offers loads of space inside. The comfortable and supportive front seats fit drivers of all sizes and there's ample space for passengers up to 6 feet tall in the second row. Unlike in the Grand Cherokee L, the second-row seat does not slide fore-and-aft but it does recline.
Compared to some other crossovers that sit lower to the ground, Grand Cherokee is a bit more difficult to access. There's a mild climb into the front seats. Outward visibility is just average as Grand Cherokee has thick pillars, a high beltline and lots of safety equipment at the top of the windshield. Though that's somewhat mitigated by excellent surround-view cameras including an available digital rear-view mirror.
Basic controls are well placed and straight forward, but the sheer number of buttons and knobs can be a bit off-putting. Still, everything is clearly marked and logical in operation. Kudos to Jeep for an excellent digital instrument cluster that offers a solid mix of information without becoming too busy. Same can be said for the crisp head-up display and large center infotainment screen.
Grand Cherokee offers Uconnect 5, the latest infotainment system from parent company Stellantis. It has crisp graphics, and the available integrated navigation system provides helpful turn-by-turn route instructions. There's also wireless support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play. As the name suggests, you don't have to plug in any more, but that means the connection isn't perfect either. Sometimes with wireless connections there's a hiccup or two when talking on the phone or streaming music. There are also huge screen available for the front passenger and rear seat passengers.
Grand Cherokee has an impressive cargo hold. Behind the rear seats it offers 37.7 cubic feet. Fold the rear seats and you'll find 70.8 cubic feet. Inside, there is ample storage space for small items, with plenty of cupholders and spacious center console bins in the first and second rows. Jeep also offers a concealed wireless charging dock.
Bottom Line -- Overall, the Grand Cherokee effectively brings Jeep's rough-and-ready DNA to new level. It's now clearly a luxury SUV, rather than trying to play mainstream with uplevel trims. Choice of engines and 4-wheel-drive systems is also unique. Though Grand Cherokee can become expensive, the $47,000 Limited adds leather seats and a host of interior and exterior upgrades, plus a power liftgate. It's the Grand Cherokee buyers have been waiting decades for, and Jeep didn't disappoint.