The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is ready to go electric
“Trail Rated” is going battery-powered. That American 4x4 stalwart, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, will be all-electric by 2025, but before that arrives we get this from next year: the first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version.
The Grand Cherokee has been reinvented with new monocoque architecture designed to cater for all powertrain combos – all-electric, PHEV, V6 and, yes, in the US there’s even a 5.7-litre V8.
Alas it’s doubtful we will get that but the 4xe PHEV model is sure to make its way across the pond to take on full-size 4x4 rivals, chief of which is the Land Rover Discovery. Land Rover has Disco Sport and Defender PHEVs but curiously no Discovery PHEV, so is this Jeep stealing a march on the Brit?
On paper at least, the Grand Cherokee 4xe makes an interesting proposition. A trio of motors – a 2.0-litre turbo four-pot petrol and two electric motor-generators, one replacing the alternator and one in the transmission – together produce 375PS (280 kW) and 637 Nm (470 lb ft) of torque. And both of those figures leave the V8 behind.
All this motive force is deployed in a variety of ways to all four wheels or (a new efficiency feature) just the rear wheels, thanks to a couple of clutches and mass of electronic systems. The result, says Jeep, is a targeted 25 miles of pure electric range with a total range of 440 miles, at an estimated highway average of 57mpg. And the 4xe can tow too: up to 2.7-tonnes.
It might be a PHEV but it’s not a phoney 4x4. The 4xe is available in Jeep’s top off-road Trailhawk spec which comes with more ground clearance (11.3 inches or 28.7 cm) and a max wading depth of 24 inches (61 cm). The 400-volt, 17kWh battery underneath the Grand Cherokee is said to be well water-proofed…
In fact, Jeep says in PHEV form it’s more capable than ever off-road, with new features including decoupling anti-roll bars to aid axle articulation, as well as the expected two-speed transfer case with 47:1 crawler gear.To prove its mettle the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe completed Jeep’s favourite off-road challenge, the 22-mile Rubicon Trail in the Sierra Nevada. And it managed it completely on battery power.
Being a Jeep the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee also comes with a good assortment of systems with those very Jeep names: TorqueFlite, Quadra-Trac, Quadra-Drive, Quadra-Lift and Selec-Terrain. Variously, they stand for automatic transmission, all-wheel drive (three sorts available), air suspension, traction management and electronic semi-active damping.
Some of this will be standard, some optional for what in the US is a big range with trim levels from Laredo to Limited, Overland to Summit Reserve. What we will get in the UK is yet to be confirmed. We do know what it looks like though. Which is…vaguely Range Rover-ish? The body is all-new, a little larger than before with a lower beltline, bigger windows and clean-cut lines.
While the proportions may strike a chord, the seven-bar grille and body details are resolutely Jeep. Features like the skid plates, coloured tow hooks and “glare-proof” black-and-blue matte Trailhawk bonnet decal all have an authentic outdoorsy feel to them.
The cabin, equally all-new, is said to be slightly more accommodating than before and – a clincher for some, probably – the boot will now take a set of golf clubs…sideways. In the US the Grand Cherokee is available as a 4.9m long five-seater or, for the first time, in extended-wheelbase 5.2m form with three rows of seats and room for seven.
In either form, the cabin boasts what promises to be a revolution in technology and connectivity by past Jeep standards. For the driver there’s a 10.1-inch display and operating system that works five times faster than before; the passenger gets a 10.25-inch interactive display, while those in the back can enjoy a 10.1-inch high-definition rear-seat entertainment system with Amazon Fire TV.
There’s also a 950-watt, 19-speaker audio system and (says Jeep) 110 safety and security features, including Active Driving Assist with hands-on automated driving and night vision cameras. All this is “crafted” (their word) together in a brand new assembly plant in Detroit, the first to open in nearly three decades. With the fully electric version in the wings, sounds to us like the Grand Cherokee just got serious…