While Jeep’s all-new Grand Cherokee is offered with 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter V-8 engines, it’s the 4xe plug-in hybrid that really has our attention. The 4xe drivetrain is like that in the Wrangler 4xe introduced last year, which combines two electric motors, a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected I-4 gasoline engine, and a 400-volt, 17-kWh battery pack.
In Grand Cherokee 4xe, one motor replaces the conventional alternator and is used to power the engine’s start/stop functions and charge the battery. The second motor replaces the torque converter in the TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission. Clutches control the power flow from this motor generator, enabling either pure electric power or a combination of torque from the motor and engine. In total, the system produces 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft peak torque. Jeep is estimating an all-electric range of 25 miles, 57 MPGe fuel economy, and a total range of more than 440 miles. Towing capacity is rated at 6,000 pounds, a little lower than the 6,200-pound capacity of the V-6-powered 2021 Grand Cherokee.
Three different E Selec modes allow the driver to tailor the powertrain’s output to suit trip conditions. Hybrid mode combines torque from the motor and engine. Electric mode is used for pure electric propulsion until the battery reaches minimum charge or the driver demands more torque – while passing, for example – which engages the engine. When saving battery power for trail or inner-city driving is desired, eSave mode can be selected so the Grand Cherokee 4x3 runs on engine power only.
The Grand Cherokee has a long history of winning awards for its off-roading capability, and Jeep plans to maintain that legacy with the 4xe. Limited and Overland models are equipped with Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II drive system, with a two-speed transfer case and 2.72:1 low range ratio. Trailhawk and Summit models have the Quadra-Drive II system, which adds an electronic limited-slip differential in the rear axle. The Selec-Terrain traction management system, standard on all 4xe trim levels, offers five selectable terrain modes and modifies 4x4 torque split, throttle control, brake and steering response, the suspension system, and stability and ABS systems to suit those circumstances.
Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension system, standard on all but the Limited model, can raise the Grand Cherokee up to 11.3 inches for greater ground clearance and automatically adjusts shock tuning for road or trail conditions. Skid plates protect the batteries mounted under the floor. High-voltage electronics are sealed and waterproof, enabling the 4xe to ford water up to 2 feet deep. Jeep has already tested the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk on California’s legendary Rubicon Trail, where it made the rocky Sierra Nevada crossing on electric power alone.
What makes the Grand Cherokee truly ‘grand,’ though, is its combination of rugged capability and civilized amenities. The 2022 version is “the most technically advanced Grand Cherokee ever,” says Jeep, with more than 110 safety and security systems that range from adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring to an available night-vision camera with pedestrian and animal detection. A new Active Driving Assist program allows Level II automated driving.
The Grand Cherokee is also equipped with Jeep’s fifth-generation Uconnect5 infotainment system, which can be linked with up to three 10.1-inch and two 10.25-inch digital displays in the cabin. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are built in, as is Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant and Fire TV. Video content can be streamed via an in-vehicle 4G Wi-Fi hot spot or a mobile device hot spot, or it can be downloaded and played without connectivity thanks to storage capacity in each rear high-definition display.
Jeep says its Grand Cherokee will arrive at dealerships later this year with the plug-in 4xe coming early in 2022.