The option to get you, your family and your stuff to wherever you want to go — on road or not — sells a lot of SUVs. This is how Jeep’s Wagoneer and Chevrolet’s Suburban edged out the standard station wagon market in the 1970s and 1980s, and save for some Subaru devotees, it’s been the same ever since. Capability is key. Even today, drivers want unquestioned ability, even when for most it’s all theory rather than practice. Too many all-terrain tires spend their lifetimes turning on blacktop.
For SUV devotees, it’s about the comfort of extra space and an elevated view in traffic. The ability to haul or tow anything, in any weather. The freedom to get away, even if they only think about it. All of this is powerful. These believers give up fuel mileage to get all those things in return, even now, in a world where $5 gallons of fuel are the reality. Peace of mind is worth it, they’ll say. Maybe I won’t go. But I can.
Yes, SUVs sell regardless of stigma and real-world economics, and awful fuel mileage has always been just part of the equation. Physics have dictated the reality.
That is, until now.
With that, I give you the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe.
Who Needs Gas?
This looks like your average Grand Cherokee but it isn’t. The blue-backed badges and blue tow hooks are your visual key to this having a little something more.
That little something is the comfort of a Grand Cherokee with the added benefit of an all-electric mode. It will go an estimated 25 miles on battery power alone, backed up by a 350-mile gasoline range that seamlessly transitions over mid-drive when needed.
This Jeep does that with a 17.3 kWh 400v lithium-ion battery pack, coupled to a system that uses both an electric motor and a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine. Combined it makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, and achieves an equivalent of 56 MPGs.
What was that about SUVs and fuel mileage again?
In practice, after a night’s charge on a 110v outlet in my shop, the Jeep was good to go for 27 miles each day. A level 2 charger, running on 240v, will charge it completely in just a few hours. It has helpful status lights on the dash as well — no charge-level guessing required, even from a distance.
The gas engine makes plenty of power, too — and you can hear and feel it when it kicks to life. But you won’t hear it often. I used it just once in the week I drove this Jeep.
A New Direction
The tech is the news here — and its integration into an already-existing product without compromising that product’s ability to do what it was designed to do. This is no Nissan Leaf on all-terrains. Jeep people still wave when they see it. It has adjustable suspension height and low-range 4×4. It’s Trail Rated, as Jeep likes to point out. And while Tesla fanboys scoff at that “light” electric range, It’s real-world ideal, at least in-town. And find me a Tesla that will climb into and back out of a ditch. I’ll wait.
Inside, it’s all Jeep GC. The Overland version, as equipped here, came with Nappa leather, large touchscreen interfaces, a glass roof, surround-view cameras and a 19-speaker McIntosh sound system. It’s a nice place to spend time, and the ride is car-like. So is the steering — which is nothing new for Jeep Grand Cherokees, but it’s still something I find surprising. The brakes are regenerative, which takes a little getting used to — let off the gas to coast and the Jeep immediately slows in an effort to convert your forward motion back into range.
All this looks and sounds great, right? There’s a catch.
This Jeep, with its Overland spec and Luxury Tech Group IV, runs $75k. That’s right. $75k. Base price is $66k. That’s huge money for a Jeep, even with all this new tech. But it works. It works well.
For Jeep, which is now producing the 4xe in both Grand Cherokee and Wrangler versions, this is capability in a new direction. Both are like a Nissan Leaf and an off-roader combined into one vehicle — each will silently take the kids to school. Quietly glide on over to the mall. And then either will road-trip out to the trail without any charging infrastructure worries.
This one just does it with all the comfort Jeep can muster. Future, meet past.
High Point: You’ll forget where the gas station is.
Low Point: $75k buys a lot of standard Jeep, with fuel to spare.
Final Word: Sometimes the evolution is the revolution.
Fun factor/appearance: ****
(***** is best)