Jeep is on a roll. This enduring brand, symbolically aligned with the American persona due to its rich history here, is certainly getting it right. Long popular with those seeking on- and off-road capabilities and the rugged image that comes with that, there’s a Jeep model to fit diverse desires and needs. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, introduced in its fifth generation in 2021, is at the luxe side of the spectrum.
Beyond the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s obvious benefits for families – roominess, high functionality, desirable features, and style – this full-size SUV offers something that’s increasingly important to a great many new car buyers today: electrification. This comes in the form of the Grand Cherokee 4xe model, a plug-in hybrid offering efficient hybrid operation as well as the ability to plug in, the latter capability enabling 25 miles of zero-emission, on- and off-road driving on battery power at the flick of a switch.
We’ve noted Jeep’s interest in electrification for some time as part of Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep electric concept vehicle explorations, most notably back in 2008. Jeep started its modern electrification push with the ever-popular Wrangler, introducing the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid variant in the 2021 model year. By 2022, this model laid claim to being the best-selling plug-in hybrid in North America. That’s saying a lot given the wide array of PHEVs now available to consumers.
The electrified Grand Cherokee 4xe is the expected, and welcome, follow up. Sporting an appealing and sophisticated design, the Grand Cherokee 4xe features distinctive Jeep styling cues, low-silhouette headlights and taillights, a handy roof rack, and angular, metal-trimmed through-the-bumper exhaust. Blue front tow hooks are exclusive to the 4xe model, as is a chargeport found at the driver’s side front fender.
Jeep Grand Cherokee on the Road
We recently had the opportunity to take a road trip in Jeep’s electrified Grand Cherokee 4xe, which included a fascinating visit to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge on California’s Central Coast. Our time behind the wheel illustrated why this is such a popular model. The ride is comfortable and performance solid, with all the acceleration you need delivered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors. Together, this package delivers an abundant 375 hp and 470 lb-ft torque that’s delivered to the road via a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. Energy is provided by a temperature controlled 17 kWh lithium-ion battery pack packaged beneath the vehicle’s floor and protected by skid plates.
Driving modes are selectable on a panel at the lower left of the steering column – Hybrid, Electric, and e-Save. The first enables driving in gas-electric hybrid mode using both the combustion engine and electric motors. Electric mode uses motor-battery propulsion exclusively for zero-emission driving. The e-Save function allows running without any use of battery power, allowing a driver to save maximum energy for all-electric driving in desired areas, such as on trails. The Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system features controls on the center console that allow optimizing driving characteristics with selections for Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud/Sand, and Auto. Hill Descent Control and 4WD Low are also selectable on the center console. Shifting to Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive is handled with a rotary dial.
Trail Rated Jeep PHEV
We drove mostly in hybrid drive during our trip, though we did spend time driving exclusively in electric mode when we had the ability to charge up during our journey. Both deliver all the acceleration you really need. Overall efficiency while driving in conventional mode is pegged at a combined city/highway 23 mpg by EPA. Driving exclusively on battery power nets a 56 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) combined rating, all the while running emissions-free.
Though we didn’t do serious off-roading during our journey or tow any toys along with us, this vehicle’s capabilities in these areas are considerable. The Trail Rated Grand Cherokee 4xe features Jeep’s Quadra Trac II 4x4 system with two-speed transfer case, up to 10.9 inches of ground clearance, and is capable of towing up to 6,000 pounds. This electrified Jeep can also ford up to 24 inches of water without issue since all high-voltages electronics are sealed and waterproof.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Interior
During our drive, we really came to appreciate this Jeep’s accommodating interior and thoughtful appointments. The automaker’s latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system is integrated, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Driver information, system controls, and entertainment functions are displayed on three digital display screens. The far-right screen, which can be turned on and off with a dash-mounted switch, offers the right-seat passenger digital entertainment, co-pilot and navigation assistance, and camera viewing. Found at the front of the center console are USB and USB-C ports, a port for 12-volt DC accessories, and an HTML port.
Seats are upholstered in handsome gray leather with contrast stitching, a luxury-oriented theme carried throughout the interior with leather-trimmed door panels, center console, dashboard, and steering wheel. Sophisticated gray wood accents on the dash and door panels a stylish touch. Front seats are nicely bolstered for support and comfort.
Accommodating Third Row Seats
Seating in in the rear of this full-size SUV is quite accommodating, affording plenty of legroom and headroom. Rear seating features a center fold-down armrest with drink holders, plus 60/40 split seatback functionality to enhance rear cargo-carrying capacity. Rear side windows offer lift up sunshades, a nice touch. Back seat passengers are provided controls at the rear of the center console for their own seat heaters, a display with controls for heating and air conditioning, and registers for directing airflow as needed. Below that is a 115 volt, 150 watt AC plug for a computer or other devices that use standard household current. Also found here are USB and mini USB ports for mobile devices.
Of course, advanced driver assist systems are part of the package. The Grand Cherokee 4xe includes standard adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warning with active lane keep assist, full-speed collision warning with active braking, intersection collision assist, and much more. Beyond the daily convenience afforded by a rear back-up camera, rear park assist sensors, and a 360-degree surround view camera system, there’s also parallel and perpendicular park assist to make any kind of parking situation easier.
Electric Drive is Handy
High levels of comfort, expansive connectivity, and confident driving are delivered in good measure by the Grand Cherokee 4xe. The fact that this is also a plug-in hybrid with 25 all-electric miles at the ready for our usual daily drives is a resounding plus.
We have many years of experience living with different plug-in hybrid models, and have found that our trips to gas stations are infrequent and our around-town driving handled almost exclusively on battery power. That is, until another road trip beckons and we head off with confidence knowing will be driving largely on hybrid power, with no charging stops needed unless they are convenient and fit into our schedule. This was our experience with the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe and we just wish it were staying longer in our care.