Capacity and technology: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee puts aspiring SUVs in their place | Automatic features

MOAB, Utah – “Don’t be pushy, kid.” These were the words of Han Solo when newbie Luke Skywalker celebrated the downing of his first Imperial warship in “Star Wars,” and they could have been those of Jeep director Jim Morrison when he recently scolded the builders. automobiles for SUVs that add a skid plate here, a Torsen differential there, and claim to be serious off-roaders.

Implicitly: “Nice try for a beginner, but don’t get too excited. The Death Star is still there.

The Death Star has just arrived.

I recently drove a 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk up 30% incline of loose sand and shifting rock and boulders that would stop almost any potential competitor, and around intimidating mountain switchbacks that put my composure and the Grand Cherokee to the test. road performance.

Don’t be arrogant, kids. Other brands may give their SUVs elaborately researched outdoor names, retro boxy looks, and ads showing them alongside off-road vehicles, but the Grand Cherokee is the OG, and it’s still the vehicle to beat. .

More space and functionality, lighter weight

The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is currently in production. Sales will begin later this year. It’s a five-seat midsize SUV that rivals vehicles like the Ford Edge and Explorer, Nissan Murano and Pathfinder, and Toyota Venza and Highlander. These SUVs have a mix of two or three rows of seats and carry five to seven people. Mid-size SUVs cover both groups of buyers. Five-seater like the Grand Cherokee accounts for around 40% of sales in the hugely popular segment. The rest goes to more family-friendly three-row models. Jeep added the three-row Grand Cherokee L to enter this market earlier this year.

It shares its architecture, basic engineering, and a lot of features with the 2022 Grand Cherokee. The L is a Jeep, so it prioritizes off-road capability, but the five-seater Grand Cherokee performs better, on a large scale. part because its shorter length allows it to squeeze around rocks and through spaces too narrow for L.

The 2022 Grand Cherokee is 193.5 inches long – 3.4 inches longer than the outgoing model, but 10.5 inches shorter than the three-row Grand Cherokee L.

The wheelbase of the Grand Cherokee has increased by 2 inches compared to the outgoing model. These changes, along with smart design and engineering, increase interior space by 6 cubic feet. More noticeably, the larger openings of the rear doors improve entry. The narrower A and C pillars significantly improve visibility.

A new electrical architecture enables new and future functionalities.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is rear-wheel drive. Three four-wheel drive systems with increasing capacity levels are available. The best performing model is the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, available only with 4WD.

A 3.6-liter V6 developing 293 horsepower is standard. A 5.7L Hemi V8 developing 357 horsepower is available. A plug-in hybrid with a 2.0L turbo engine and 375 horsepower electric motor will go on sale in 2022. It will be called the Grand Cherokee 4xe.

I have driven Grand Cherokee V6 and V8 on a variety of roads and a tough off-road course in the canyons around Moab, Utah.

Despite its larger size and new features, a 2022 Grand Cherokee weighs about 250 pounds less than a comparable 2021 model, an extraordinary achievement.

“Electronics have gained weight. The body and everything fell apart, ”Chief Engineer David Partlow told me.

Driving impressions

I’ve driven a pair of V6-powered 4WD Grand Cherokee Overlands on a variety of roads and a tough off-road course.

The Grand Cherokee is exceptionally quiet and smooth on cobblestone surfaces. The steering is direct, with a good feeling of centering. The air suspension cushioned the bumps and kept the SUV stable on a long mountain road with plenty of 15 mph switchbacks.

Space for passengers is good, with plenty of storage in the door pockets and the center console. The seats are comfortable.

A smart combination of a 10.25-inch touchscreen and dials / switches for frequently used climate and audio functions makes it easy to use the Grand Cherokee’s many features.

The optional 950-watt McIntosh sound system produced exceptional sound. Speakers with illuminated “McIntosh” labels in the audio specialist’s signature blue gauge lighting completed the interior design consisting of open-pore wood, genuine metal and supple leather.

The luggage compartment, with its wide opening and dimensions, offers plenty of room for groceries, luggage and even cross-loaded golf bags – a Grand Cherokee first.

The optional rear seat entertainment system featured a pair of screens that can stream content independently and are compatible with Amazon Fire TV’s home service. A cleverly disguised touchscreen in front of the front passenger – invisible from the driver’s seat – can control rear entertainment, can add stops to navigation routes and more.

I briefly drove a premium 5.7L V8 Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4×4. The Hemi V8 delivers plenty of power, a decent exhaust rating, and the ability to tow 7,200 pounds.

The vast majority of Grand Cherokee owners choose the V6, and I can see why. It has plenty of power for everyday driving and offers a 5 mpg money saving combined city and highway driving.

Driver assistance and safety features

—Full speed collision warning with active braking and pedestrian / cyclist detection.

—Rear cross traffic detection

—Blind spot alert

– Adaptive cruise control

-Warning and assistance when crossing the line

-Brake assistance

—Rear parking sensors and automatic braking

-Electric parking brake

-Night vision camera

—Collision assistance at intersections

– Recognition of traffic signs

—Parallel and perpendicular parking trump card

—360-degree panoramic view All-terrain control, even electric

The Grand Cherokee offers three four-wheel drive systems: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II. I drove a Trailhawk, the most capable all-terrain model, equipped with Quadra-Drive II on a course that included steep inclines, loose scree, and axles-breaking climbs.

It imposed itself brilliantly, thanks to features that include a disconnectable stabilizer bar to let a wheel hang in the air, active transfer cases to direct torque front and rear, and a rear differential. with electronic locking which can send the full torque to the right or left wheel.

Jeep knows full well that most owners will never take a $ 60,000 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk on a course like the one I have overcome. A handful of willpower, however, and the brand’s credibility and reputation rests on their success.

In the end, a Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid completed the rugged Rubicon trail exclusively on electricity. Not on a single charge, I’m sure.

Jeep is hoping the 4xe will have an electric range of 25 miles estimated by the EPA under normal driving when it goes on sale.

Offroad uses a lot more power, so I would expect Jeep engineers to have brought a portable generator in a support vehicle. Not at all the eco-friendly behavior that plug-in hybrid owners will engage in, but Jeep needs to demonstrate that its transition to electric power is in line with the brand’s historic capabilities.

To behave otherwise would be an arrogant mistake.

Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press automotive critic. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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