By on April 19, 2022

Everybody’s going electric these days, it seems. Or at least, electrified. The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is Jeep’s latest entry in the electrified-vehicle space (sorry for that bit of marketing speak, I must need more coffee), following, of course, the Wrangler 4xe.

Getting electrified might be good for the ‘ole CAFE standards – but is it worth the price premium? Will electrification change a vehicle’s character – and if so, for the better or for worse?

To find out, I headed deep to the heart of Texas last month.

(Full disclosure: Jeep flew me to Austin, Texas, and housed and fed me for two nights, so that I could drive the Grand Cherokee 4xe. I was offered a hat that I did not take. I also ate an inhuman amount of brisket.)

The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is a plug-in hybrid promising up to 25 miles of all-electric range. Jeep also claims a 56 MPGe figure and a combined driving range of 470 miles. Off-roaders, take note – there is a Trailhawk trim available. Meaning you can boulder-bash in silence, should the battery be charged enough.

The powertrain here is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque paired to an electric starter/generator motor (44 hp, 39 lb-ft) and an integrated transmission traction motor (134 hp, 195 lb-ft). The total system output is 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque.

Here’s how it works: The motor-generator, which is connected to the crankshaft pulley via a belt, spins the engine for start-stop operation while also generating electricity for the battery pack. Meanwhile, a larger motor-generator replaces the torque converter and is mounted in the transmission. Two clutches are used to manage the power from the electric motor and the gas engine.

One clutch is mounted between the engine and the motor, and it’s open when the vehicle is in electric-only mode. This means there’s no mechanical linkage between the engine and motor when the clutch is open. Close the clutch and the torque from both the engine and electric motor move through the eight-speed automatic transmission to the wheels. Furthermore, a variable clutch mounted aft of the electric motor handles engagement with the transmission.

Jeep challenged us to see if we could make it from the event start to our first break stop on all-electric power, using a route that took us across urban and suburban sections of Austin. Somehow the vehicle I was assigned to had only 55 percent of charge to start with, so I had no chance. Still, I got further than I expected on all-EV power, crossing town in silence. I did eventually kick the Jeep into eSave mode to see if I could get a few miles of charge/EV range back, and I did, but not without some noise.

Backing up a sec: ESave is one of three driver-selectable powertrain modes. Hybrid mode obviously has the gas engine and electric motor working in tandem to give the best combo of on-road performance and fuel economy, while Electric mode, as the name implies, puts the Jeep into all-electric operation until either the battery is drained or the driver needs a boost (for passing, let’s say) from the gas engine. ESave puts the priority on the engine but uses regeneration to claw back a little EV range. Jeep folks on site told me the amount of regeneration tended to be better when the vehicle was in Sport mode.

Hybrid mode is also the default mode that the Jeep switches into when the battery is drained of charge.

On-road, this all made for a driving experience that was basically the same as in the gas-only GC, with the only noticeable change being the noise level from the powertrain. In EV mode, one could enjoy the silence (music references!), but the eSave mode triggered a noise response that bordered on annoying – though it must be said that I initially had the radio off for testing purposes. Crank the excellent available McIntosh stereo and you can solve most of the problem.

Most of the problem, that is – not only is eSave noisy but the switching back and forth between the engine and motor isn’t always smooth, especially at lower speeds. This lack of decorum tended to fade at higher speeds in hybrid mode.

The Jeep was a bit better behaved, in terms of noise, in hybrid mode, which is where most drivers will likely spend most of their time.

Otherwise, the experience is pretty standard Grand Cherokee. A comfortable on-road ride that never gets soft and handling that’s a bit better than one would expect from this type of vehicle though marred by body roll. Acceleration doesn’t seem to suffer much from the switch to the plug-in hybrid setup – you won’t blow the doors off of anyone, but you’ll have the punch you need for most passing and merging situations.

Outside of the noise issues presented by the powertrain, the cabin is mostly quiet, though some wind noise along the A-pillars intruded on the long highway slog from the off-road location back to Austin. To be fair, it was an unusually windy day during my test.

Inside, the cabin remains a nice place to be, with the aforementioned audio system being a highlight. The Uconnect 5 infotainment system generally works seamlessly, and once you’re familiar with the digital gauges, they’re easy to use, in addition to being pleasing to the eye. Most materials here feel right for the price, and the seats are all-day comfortable. Kudos to Jeep for integrating the infotainment screen into the dash/center stack instead of tacking it on.

It should be of little shock that the Trailhawk 4xe is just as capable off-road as an ICE Grand Cherokee, with the added benefit of wheelin’ in silence. Jeep put us on a fairly gnarly course, and the Trailhawks got around just fine.

When in four-wheel drive, all four wheels feed regenerative energy back to the powertrain. New for this year is a front-axle disconnect that effectively puts the vehicle in two-wheel drive when 4WD isn’t needed, thus reducing driveline drag. As before, Jeep gives the Grand Cherokee drive modes that can be selected to best match the terrain you’re traversing. Sway-bar disconnect is available, and water fording capability is up to 24 inches.

Trailhawks get the Quadra-Drive II 4WD system with a rear electronic limited-slip differential, two-speed transfer case, and 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. The Grand Cherokee can tow up to 6,000 pounds.

Like with the gas version, I find myself charmed by the Grand Cherokee – right up until I look at the window sticker. I tested a gas Summit Reserve a few weeks before I headed to Texas, and I found myself getting more and more smitten until I saw the price tag and nearly fainted. The situation isn’t better with the 4xe – Jeep folks told us the price premium, depending on trim and features, was about $10K or $11K.

Yeesh. Look at this pricing sheet, for example. The list reads like this: base, $57,700; Trailhawk, $62,485; Overland, $65,760; Summit, $69,820; and Summit Reserve, $74,300. Those prices don’t include the $1,795 destination fee.

The Overland I drove back to the hotel from the off-road, for example, cost $75,430.

Yes, I know, the Grand Cherokee is feature-laden, no matter which powertrain you pick. Available features include wireless cell-phone charging, the McIntosh stereo, a passenger-side infotainment screen, massaging power front seat, Nappa leather, four-zone climate control, head-up display, off-road camera, an in-gauge map display, Uconnect 5 infotainment, satellite radio, navigation, Bluetooth, rear-seat DVD entertainment, Amazon Fire compatibility, LED fog lamps, LED head- and taillights, a power liftgate, heated front seats, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, air-suspension, 20-inch wheels, and 21-inch wheels.

Available advanced driver-aid systems include blind-spot monitoring, drowsy driver detection, full-speed collision warning with active braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection, intersection collision assist, night-vision camera with pedestrian and animal detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, rain brake support, rear cross-path detection, traffic-sign recognition, and trailer-sway control.

So, yeah, you get a lot, but the cash outlay here is a bit heart-stopping. It’s one thing to splurge on a luxury internal-combustion SUV, but another to pay a hefty premium for the ability to get up to 25 miles of EV range, as well as the overall 470 miles of driving range. While also getting a vehicle that suffers from occasional harsh operation from the powertrain.

Occasional harshness (good band name, btw) aside, the plug-in hybrid setup doesn’t hurt the Grand Cherokee much. But I’m not sure it’s enough of an improvement to justify the cost.

Electrification doesn’t much change this vehicle’s character, save for some smoothness issues. But it does change the price. Even with incentives (the Jeep is eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit), the premium is dear – and, aside from a small subset of buyers, it might not be worth it.

Someday, perhaps someday soon, Jeep will deliver a Grand Cherokee 4xe that offers more reason to pay a premium while also having a smoother operation. Until then, give me the gas.

[Images © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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30 Comments on “2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe First Drive – What’s Green Worth to You?...”


  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is a good product if it proves reasonably reliable, but the pricing is an obstacle—as it will always be for PHEVs, because having two entirely separate powertrains is an expensive and hard-to-engineer proposition.

    The higher trims are priced straight across from the lower trims of the Volvo XC90 Recharge and that is going to be a difficult fight for any JGC to win without a price advantage.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Nice looking in and out.
    Luxo.
    Just right size.
    Might need to check it out. ( gas version )

    I d like a land Rover product but, horrible quality and a little too weird styling in all but the 2 top Range Rovers prohibit a LR purchase.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Unrelated: Jeep interiors have come a LONG way in the last couple of years. Given the ask, though, I don’t think they had much of a choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      That may well be among the ugliest dashboards I’ve ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      The Grand Cherokee interior has been competitive for more than “the last couple years”. Since the 2011 Wk2 was introduced the interior has at least matched and sometimes surpassed (depending on the trim level) the competition. That’s 11 years.

  • avatar
    Kyree

    Yikes, that pricing is pretty steep.

    For comparison, I bought a 2022 BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport (PHEV) last November. It has similar specs to this Grand Cherokee 4xe.

    – 389 hp
    – 443 lb/ft torque
    – 30 mi electric range
    – 400 mi total range (I reliably get 480 on long trips)

    I was with you until you cited that an example so equipped would be $75K and that these would be in the $60K range for a mid-spec example. My X5, which is pretty well equipped, itself, MSRP’d for $78K, and cost considerably less after military, dealership and federal rebates. When you consider that my X5 has a turbo I6 and not an I4, it’s not even a contest.

    I also think that this WL loses some of the muscular design that the prior WK2 had (of which I owned a 2015 example). It might be the more-upright C-pillars. It just looks slightly dorkier and more upright.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Kyree,

      Congrats on the X5 purchase. Did you buy or lease? Asking because I recall you having bad fortunes with the last X5 you had. If I’m remembering correctly, I admire your ability to forgive!

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree

        Bahahaha, I bought it. The residual and money factor to lease were outrageously bad (such that I’d have paid $50,000 over three years in lease payments). Also, many automakers’ captive finance companies pass the federal EV credit on as a discount on the price of the car, but BMW keeps it for themselves. Finally, BMW’s military discount was $3,250 if I bought the car, but only $500 if I used BMW FS (for lease or finance). So the decision to buy it was pretty clear.

        It turned out that the last X5, which was used, had been waterlogged. CarMax bought it back when they figured it out. In the interim, I’ve had a 2016 535i xDrive M Sport, which was reliable enough, but had a harsh suspension. Fortunately, my X5 (as with all PHEV versions) has standard four-corner air suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Kyree –

      Agreed. We’re on our 3rd W2K Grand Cherokee and have been very happy with them. The 4xe is very appealing, until you get to the pricing. I’d much rather step into an X5 45e than the GC, so when our current lease is up, that’s a very potential route we will go (purchase, not lease).

      I’m also inclined to stay away from the first model year of a new Jeep product. The Grand Cherokee was notoriously buggy in the first years of the W2K in 2010 and then again after the major W2K refresh in 2014.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Until then, give me the gas.”

    Agreed. I like electric, and I like gas, but smoothness is key for me. A rough hybrid isn’t worth the aggravation and added complexity – to me, anyway.

    I’ve only driven one reasonably smooth hybrid, and it was a $25k Kia Niro. This Jeep sounds like it’s half-baked.

  • avatar

    It’d take so many years to make up the difference on the price premium for the PHEV, that it’s no more than a toy for the wealthy who want the green credibility.

    Might be okay used down the line when there’s only a $1,500 price premium over a gasoline version.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The sooner auto writers stop thinking about EVs (including PHEVs) in terms of fuel cost differences, the better their insights will be. (This isn’t specific to you – a lot of people do it.)

      Americans have never bought cars based on those sorts of calculations, and they’re not going to start now. They’re going to be thinking about image (yes, including green cred), features, and spec-sheet numbers, probably in that order.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    That is a lot of money for a lot of plastic. I guess my new vehicle days are over.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Jeep/comments/u71y93/grand_cherokee_4xe_production_halt/

    Maybe you can’t order them anyways?

  • avatar
    Crashdaddy430

    Your definition of integrated must be different from mine. Even if the NAV screen doesn’t stick over top the dash does not mean that it’s integrated. Still a troubling modern styling trend.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Random aside: when did off-color painted front tow loops become a thing?

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      The red ones a few years ago maybe? Blue is new to me (and questionable at first blush). In the Exotic Language of Car Designers blue is (or was) equated with environmental awareness so these seem to be Hybrid Blue.

      I would welcome a deep-dive on this topic. (Or we could have more scatalogical references and contraception debates.)

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        The same question applies to red or yellow painted brake calipers.
        My latest buggy has calipers that a previous owner (or some dealership clown) spray-painted a dull red, which looks even dumber as the car is painted a terrific red already.
        At the next tire rotation, I’m gonna paint them black, or maybe gray or silver, whatever it takes to make them invisible.

        Bright contrasting tow hooks look out of place, boy-racer-ish, and emphasize that the vehicle will likely need to be towed out of a spot of bother on a fairly regular basis.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      The blue tow hooks are only seen on 4Xe models. Same silly idea that Porsche had with foisting their hybrid models with avocado green calipers, albeit a bit less horrible.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    Priced out of that market, again!

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    You’d think that they’d put an N/A 6 in for the ICE portion! I hope they would equip a theoretical Wagoneerw/Grand Wagoneer 4xe that way.

    Is this GC 4xe powertrain the same as in the Wrangler 4xe? Or is that an N/A four-banger?

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    A vehicle that I can drive around all week in quiet bliss with effortless torque like my Volt but can also tow on the weekends like my Tahoe…….I’m all over that!

    This makes far more sense IMO than an EV PU or SUV.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    But, Secretary of Transportation Pete Butt-pilot told us that the new CAFE standards would save Americans hundreds of dollars a year on gasoline.

    He forgot to mention that you won’t be able to afford the cars that meet the new standards.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    For that price, going all the way to EV with a Rivian R1S would simplify the whole thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the wait times we’re similar.

    Also, this price is comparable to several Tesla models. Granted you give up the off road capability, but who’s going to offroad a $75k vehicle anyway?

    I want to get excited about this vehicle because I’m shopping in this price-range and I’m excited about vehicle electrification. But I’m just going to keep my GMC Sierra Hybrid for now – it’s just a placeholder until I can fill the “towbeast” slot in the driveway with an EV, and $75k is a little much for a vehicle that I will trade in the moment Tesla will sell me a CT.

    P.S. An SUV version of the Tesla Cybertruck would cost less and eat this Jeep for lunch.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      P.S. A similar pricing model killed the Cadillac ELR.

      Cadillac charging Tesla prices for Volt technology. I’m guessing most ELR buyers just bought Teslas instead.

      The Jeep is a little different because it had offroad abilities that a Tesla Model Y/X lacks. But how much does that really matter for the kind of people who are dropping $75k for a car? I imagine a lot of them are the McMansion / mall crawler set, so a Model X/Y might be really competitive with the Jeep for the target buyer (though less so for the 2nd and 3rd owners). How well will this Jeep really sell?

  • avatar
    lostboy

    seriously – green isn’t worth much is the brand has a crap reputation for reliability, and i don’t think of jeeps as reliable, now go into the mud and haul ass and a tree – yes! reliable – no way.

    And that would be a big problem for someone buying this – if this were your only car and it was more complex would it be more reliable – probably not. (never mind the 10K price increase)

    Now i know jeeps are a lifestyle thing – as everyone needs to climb hills everyday they’re driving but whatever.. for the jeep die-hard this will just let them feel less guilt burning oil and that may just be enough to overcome sticker shock and maybe it WILL sell – who am i to say. (really, more hp alone would make it sell)

    IMHO, as much as i want hybrids to work better than ICE only at the end of the day it’s 2 system co-existing, so more complexity and less reliability = long term fail.

    IF your willing to sink that kind of money, and you care about green – buy an electric car/truck/SUV instead of a hybrid, and because of less moving parts – less WILL go wrong over the life of the vehicle (all things being equal and mechanical failure through wear and tear being the cause of most damage for engines today) and it will be greenER to run and greenER to keep (as it will last longer) and greener overall than any hybrid could ever be (just ask any nissan leaf owners out there – battery lasts up to 100K, just like your transmission!)

    YMMV, just my 2 cents!

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Nice enough looking truck and the interior is very nice as well but not at these prices. And with this companies reputation for reliability and the complexity of not only 2 extra electric drive modes coupled with a turbo 4 cylinder I wouldn’t want to be the sucker stuck with one of these after the inadequate warranty runs out. The gas version would definitely make more sense.

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