When you drive a different new vehicle most weeks, you can become sheltered from the reality of shopping for a new car.
When asked for a recommendation, my usual response is to suggest cross-shopping competitors within the class/size/price range. Having narrowed your shopping list to a couple of contenders, ask someone driving one about their experience with the dealer.
No bad cars on the market today
Due to safety and emission regulations, and the nature of a free-market economy weeding out the losers, there are no bad cars on the market today.
Overall quality, reliability and resale values are at an all-time high. The quality of anything on your list is comparable – therefore the dealer may be the deciding factor.
This leads to the subject of this review – the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The average price of a new car in Canada topped $66,000 in June! Even after you let that settle in, the $94,000 bottom line of this Jeep still stands out.
That is tens of thousands of dollars more than what some may consider the competition: Durango, Bronco, Highlander, Outback, Palisade, Passport, Pathfinder, Telluride etc.
All of these and others are capable mid-size utes with the much-desired high seating position and all-wheel-drive. Jeep has a Grand Cherokee suited for that comparison, starting in the mid-fifties. Granted, you will pay a bit more for the name and well-earned reputation for off-road ability.
The tester though, was a Grand Cherokee 4xe. Those little letters and numbers after the name put it in a different category – and comparison field.
It all comes down to the drivetrain – how power is produced, distributed and designed for rugged conditions.
Complexity is at play here. It starts with a turbocharged, and intercooled 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 270-horsepower and 295 lb.ft. of torque. It is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, with power going to all four wheels. Nothing out of the ordinary so far.
From this point on the 4xe earns its name. The alternator has been replaced by a liquid-cooled motor generator. The torque-converter inside the automatic transmission replaced by a second high-voltage electric motor. A 400-volt, 17 kWh battery under the floor, protected by hefty steel skid plates, provides the juice for the electric motors.
Extensive computer programming, and power results in a total combined-output of 375-horsepower, and a whopping 470 lb. ft. of torque.
That puts the Grand Cherokee 4xe into some pretty exclusive territory. But wait, there is more!
This is a Jeep, and off-road ability is priority #1. The folks in the engineering, suspension and drivetrain departments set to work taking what was already a worthy competitor in the family-oriented, mid-size ute segment, and putting it on a pedestal where it could stand comparison with any four-wheel family vehicle on the planet at any price.
First up? Jeep’s proven, and highly-respected, Quadra Trac II 4X4 system with an electronic limited slip differential at the rear axle. The system provides a 2.72 ratio low range, and a 47.2 crawl ratio. These numbers won’t mean anything to the average owner/driver. In fact, unless they engage low range in the transfer case, they will never be aware of its ability to do everything from scale a near-vertical slope or easily handle the most rugged landscape.
Computer-programming provides five modes for the standard Select-Terrain system – sport, rock, snow, mud/sand and auto. All that coding has the system co-ordinating activities of the steering, suspension, engine output, throttle control, stability control and ABS according to the selected conditions.
This is a plug-in hybrid, so the sophistication continues.
Charging the battery takes about two-hours on a 240-volt supply, and 12 hours from a 120-volt outlet. There are three drive modes: hybrid, all-electric, or eSave.
In everyday use, the 4xe operates with the engine and electric motors operating together in a normal fashion. You can select all-electric if you wish to avoid gas pumps, and have a short daily commute – the 4xe will go up to 42 km on a charge.
But that eSave mode is pretty slick, allowing you to save the battery charge for use when desired – such as off-roading.
Within the latest generation uConnect 5 infotainment system is the choice of ‘Battery Save’ and ‘Battery Charge’ modes.
Off-roaders know and appreciate the value of torque when tackling extreme conditions. Electric motors provide maximum toque from idle, instantly. Ultra low-speed conditions like climbing, or tip-toeing over massive boulders are a breeze with the ‘throttle’ pedal controlling powerful electric motors!
One more thing – the 4xe has an air suspension with semi-active shock absorbers, 25 centimetres of ground clearance and can wade through 61-cm of water. Jeep’s reputation is intact!
Now, back to that $94,000 price tag.
Any Grand Cherokee provides the accommodations and ride and handling to compete in the field for many thousands less than the tester. The interior and features hold up to comparison at any price.
Kudos to this latest generation uConnect infotainment system, among the very best in the industry. Voice commands allow you to keep your eyes on the road. Other features include voice text reply, and voice-activated destination. It is Alexa-compatible, and accepts over-the-air updates for navigation and firmware.
Comparing the Grand Cherokee 4xe to the competition is relatively simple – there are so few. Comparing lesser Grand Cherokees on the other hand, provides a raft of choices.
There are those, however who want a Jeep and all the off-road technology available, even if they will never take that $95,000 vehicle anywhere more rugged than the unpaved road to the summer place or ski hill.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe
As tested: $93,760 including freight
26-cm infotainment screen, satellite radio, Uconnect 5 NAV with wireless support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth-enabled integrated voice command. 950-watt McIntosh audio system with 19 speakers
Traffic sign recognition, pedestrian/cyclist emergency braking, collision warning, front and rear park warning and assist, active lane management, LED headlights with automatic high beams
Adaptive cruise control, hands-free power liftgate, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, air suspension, dual pane panoramic sunroof, dual zone automatic climate control, navigation system with offroad information pages, heated mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second row seats, 26-cm digital gauge cluster
Velvet red pearl paint, $395; black roof, $995; luxury tech group IV (nappa leather-faced seats, power front driver and passenger seatback massage, second row sunshades, auto-dimming mirrors, four-zone climate control, 12-way power driver and passenger seats, passenger seat memory, wireless charging pad), $2,195; advanced ProTech group III (leather-wrapped steering wheel, map-in-cluster display, rear camera washer, heads-up display, surround view camera, night vision with pedestrian and animal detection, integrated off-road camer, intersection collision assist), $3,295; Off-Road group II (18-in polished aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires, electronic limited slip differential, fuel tank, transfer case and front suspension skid plates), $1,095; front passenger interactive display, $1,595.
Turbocharged 2.0-litre four cylinder, 270-horsepower, 295 lb.ft. of torque. Two permanent magnet electric motor, combination produces 370 horsepower and 470 lb. ft, of torque. Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 11.8/9.2
Length, 4,915-mm; wheelbase, 2,964-mm, width, 1,968-mm; weight, 2,210-kg