First Look at the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe Plug-In Hybrid: Plugging Into Something Special

 

 

Jeep realises that the best way to sell plug-in hybrids is to turn them into outstanding SUVs

 

Pros:

Has a range of 25 miles and charges rapidly.

Excellent driver

Exceptionally luxurious

Cons:

All of this capacity comes at a high price.

Quick but not lightning-fast

It does not automatically switch to electric mode.

Until recently, automakers thought that all PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) purchasers wanted the same dull, amorphous blob of a hatchback. So they created pricey small cars with feeble engines and motors, slapped “Prime,” “REX,” or “EREV” stickers on their rumps, and sat about wondering why they were stranded on dealer lots as SUVs flew off of them. Then someone had the brilliant notion of slapping such insignia on SUVs. And, surprise, surprise, they’re flying off dealer lots.

We recently spent some time in the new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe plug-in hybrid, and it turns out that one of the most recent plug-in hybrid SUVs to reach the streets is also one of the most outstanding.

Plug-in hybrids, which combine a gas engine with a moderately strong electric motor and a battery, are effectively a bridge technology between pure gasoline-powered automobiles and pure battery electric vehicles. That means the Grand Cherokee gets the same setup as the Wrangler 4xe: a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 with an electric motor wedged between it and its eight-speed automatic transmission, a four-wheel-drive system, a 17.3-kWh battery pack stored in the floor, and a 6.6-kWh onboard charger in the front quarter panel.

The Grand Cherokee 4xe’s total system output is 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, with an EPA rating of 25 miles on electricity and 23/24/23 mpg city/highway/combined if the battery runs out.

If that system appears difficult, it is. Although traditional internal combustion engines are naturally more complicated than those of electric vehicles, integrating the two and having them work well together is a monumental task. Nonetheless, Jeep’s technical team did an excellent job of integrating the engine and motor in the 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe.

With the battery completely charged, the Jeep defaults to hybrid driving mode (it also offers all-electric, battery saving, and charging modes). The hybrid driving mode is intended to favour the electric motor while simultaneously activating the engine when it is more efficient to do so.

 

That happens rather frequently. Passing slower traffic, accelerating to keep up with city traffic, or merging onto a busy freeway frequently fires up the Jeep’s 2.0-liter engine, which is great for quickly getting the engine up to operating temperature but gives the impression that the Jeep’s motor isn’t powerful enough for electric driving. That perception is immediately corrected by switching to Electric mode. The powertrain, which produces 134 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque on its own, is torquey and smooth, readily driving the Jeep forward and keeping up with traffic while the eight-speed transmission swings through gears.

Our test results back this up: our fully loaded 2022 Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe test car sped from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 15.0 seconds at 91.3 mph. We haven’t tried many of the Jeep’s direct hybrid competitors, such as the upcoming 2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport P400e plug-in hybrid, due to the segment’s youth, but we did test a Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring a couple years ago. The 494-hp (and 200-pound-heavier) Lincoln plug-in hybrid SUV achieves 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and the quarter mile in 13.8 seconds at 102.3 mph, while having 4 miles less range than the Jeep.

 

Despite its optional all-terrain tyres, the air-sprung Grand Cherokee manages its weight effectively on the road, gliding over bumps with little secondary impacts and handling confidently with well-weighted, crisp steering. It’s no handler, as seen by its 27.7-second figure eight at 0.60 g average, but it feels regal and confident as it travels.

 

The Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe isn’t simply a pleasant plug-in hybrid to drive; it’s also a pleasant place to be. Our $75,305 Jeep, which includes the $2,115 Luxury Tech Group IV and the $2,235 Advanced Protech Group III, should give European luxury automakers pause. The interior of the Jeep is exquisitely equipped, with thick, buttery-soft Nappa leather, attractively grained wood trim, and luxurious extras like as massaging seats, an extraordinarily crisp 19-speaker McIntosh radio, and night vision.

 

The public has traditionally seen Grand Cherokees as just “premium” automobiles, but the latest Grand Cherokee makes a genuine shot at the luxury mantle. The new 4xe plug-in hybrid model is the most enticing yet, combining SUV capabilities, practicality, and elegance with the efficiency and performance of a rock-solid plug-in hybrid engine. The new 2022 Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe is the greatest Grand Cherokee you can purchase today, while costing roughly $10,000 more than its conventionally powered two- and three-row siblings.

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