It’s been a big year for Jeep — quite literally. The off-road brand has not only revived the old Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer nameplates but added a first-ever, three-row version of its previous top-line model, the new Grand Cherokee L.
As if that’s not enough, the midsize two-row model has gone through a complete makeover, as well, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee just starting to roll into U.S. showrooms.
To get a feel for the 2022 model, I headed to rugged, mountainous Moab, Utah for a long day of on and off-road driving.
It’s been 30 years since the original Jeep Grand Cherokee made its auspicious debut, Bob Lutz, then the car czar of the old Chrysler Corp., driving it up the steep steps at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, and through the convention center’s plate glass window.
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee maintains the same basic design cues as the original, starting with Jeep’s trademark 7-slot grille. And, of course, it retains the blend of on and off-road capabilities that made the original sport-utility vehicle such a standout.
But much has changed, as well. As with the new Grand Cherokee L, the makeover of the two-row model brings us a far more refined and lavishly executed product, especially with higher trim levels, like the Limited Reserve. If anything, the 2022 Grand Cherokee poses a potential challenge to Jeep’s new top-line Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, as it gets some of the same luxury features, such as the front passenger touchscreen.
As the 2022 Grand Cherokee’s list of standard features grows larger so has its price tag, however. The base Laredo model now comes in at $39,185, a full $3,705 more than the outgoing model. And the increases continue up the trim ladder, with the Limited starting at $45,505. The Limited Reserve I spent much of my day in nipped the $50,000 mark.
The rollout isn’t complete, incidentally. Early next year will bring the launch of the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe. Like the Wrangler 4xe, it will feature a new plug-in hybrid drivetrain offering better fuel economy, as well as the ability to switch to all-electric mode, whether on or off-road.
Few today are likely to recall the fact that the original, 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee was, technically, a crossover, riding on a heavily modified unibody platform. That holds true with both the 2022 models. The all-new architecture is highly flexible, allowing for both two- and three-row versions as well as the upcoming plug-in hybrid.
The Grand Cherokee L, to make room for that third row, was stretched about 15 inches more than the outgoing Jeep. The two-row model itself is about 3.5 inches longer and two inches taller its predecessor. The latter figure reflects the increased ground clearance, now as much as 11.3 inches, with the Trailhawk handling up to a maximum 24 inches of water fording.
The Trailhawk gets 25 mm more suspension travel and, with air suspension in off-road mode, it stands 20 mm taller. For serious off-roaders, the Trailhawk boasts a 36-degree approach angle, a 24-degree breakover and a 30-degree departure angle.
One of the more surprising — and impressive figures — however, is the fact that the 2022 model is about 250 pounds lighter than the outgoing Jeep, largely due to a switch to high-strength steel.
There’s more sculpting to the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee’s doors and fenders, while the beltline is slightly lower. And all new trim packages now come with standard LED fog lamps, headlights and taillights. The headlights are more slit-like, while the grille leans more aggressively forward, picking up a few ideas from last year’s Grand Wagoneer Concept.
Each trim level, meanwhile, adds unique design details and accents, notably in grille detailing.
Excluding the L model’s third row, the 2022 Grand Cherokees share essentially the same interior design. The layout is more horizontal, and there’s a use of notably more refined and elegant materials, such as real wood, real leather and suede for the headliner on higher-trim packages. Details like double-cross-stitching are lifted right from the new Grand Wagoneer and give the 2022 Grand Cherokee L a level of luxury never before seen in this SUV.
Also borrowed from the Grand Wagoneer Concept, the Grand now Cherokee offers a custom-designed McIntosh audiophile sound system, complete with an app for the touchscreen replicating that brand’s familiar analog needle display. But more on the SUV’s long list of technology in a moment.
Some of the key revisions are functional. Grand Cherokee now offers 3 inches more shoulder room. And the longer overall length allows for substantially more legroom, especially in the back row. There’s also more cargo space. And it’s easier to easier to get in and out, thanks to a lower step-over height.
From a pricing standpoint, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee now falls into the “luxury car” category. The good news is it delivers the sort of cabin experience that would expect for that kind of money.
We’ll have to wait until next year to find out more about the new 4xe drivetrain. Expect it to deliver more all-electric range on the highway than the plug-in package available with the Wrangler, however.
For now, Jeep offers two powertrain options, starting with the all-aluminum 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, rated at 290 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. It’s offered in rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
For my first, long drive, I spent a day in a Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve with the 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 357 hp and 390 lb-ft. Unlike the V-6, it’s available only in 4WD and is mated to an 8-speed automatic. For those who have a large trailer, this is the option of choice. As with the L, the two-row Grand Cherokee manages a solid tow rating of up to 7,200 pounds.
Buyers will have a choice, meanwhile, of three all-wheel-drive systems for the Grand Cherokee line: the Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II with rear electronic limited slip-differential. In the Trailhawk, one gets a low-range crawler gear with up to a 48:1 ratio. As I soon discovered, it delivers all the torque you need for rock crawling.
Depending upon trim and powertrain package, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers as much as 19 mpg in the city, 26 highway and 22 combined.
Safety and Technology
When it comes to technology and safety hardware, the 2022 Grand Cherokee has come light years from the original 1993 model.
For audiophile, the 19-speaker McIntosh audio system could be the most appealing feature. I found myself stretching out in the Jeep’s well-padded seats, listening to a few classic jazz cuts well after I had reached my destination.
But there’s plenty of other impressive technology onboard. There are now six digital screens, at least if you go for the optional head-up display, which offers a lot of useful information, including navigation guidance. The instrument cluster has gone completely digital, and it can be reconfigured depending upon which of the five different drive modes you opt for. When heading off-road, you can load up images displaying the vehicle’s tilt and roll, for one thing.
There’s also a 10-inch touchscreen at the top of the center console. It runs the latest, UConnect 5 operating system and it doesn’t take long to see what an improvement that makes. With a microprocessor operating five times faster, there’s little lag, or latency, when you tap one of the icons — which easily can be moved around for a customized experience. And most functions can be reached by digging down just one or two levels.
Meanwhile, there are traditional climate controls, a real tuning knob, and additional, manual controls on the steering wheel.
The front passenger seat regains its rank in the interior hierarchy, now that it gets its own touchscreen. And there are twin screens in the rear. Notably the passenger screens all feature Amazon’s Fire TV system for streaming video content.
The new Jeep features the ability to use over-the-air updates to not only download content but to upgrade new features and even fix vehicle software glitches that once would have required a service call. And, like so many other new vehicles, a new smartphone app allows owners to operate vehicle functions remotely.
Other features include infrared night vision which automatically spots and highlights obstacles, such as deer that might run out across the road. There are numerous cameras, as well, providing both a low, forward angle and birds-eye view. And Jeep’s first semi-autonomous system, Active Ride Assist, helps you steer, though you still need maintain at least a light grip on the wheel.
In terms of safety, Jeep officials claim to have packed in as many as 110 different features. That includes standard advanced driver assistance systems like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection and park assist, as well as such options as night vision and surround view.
Americans are getting back to nature, or so it would seem, data suggesting that the number of folks hiking, kayaking and camping has grown exponentially since the original Jeep Grand Cherokee debuted. And that goes for off-roading, as well.
To get a sense of what the Gen-5 Grand Cherokee is capable of, I turned to the 2022 Trailhawk, with its added ride height and Quadralift air suspension. I was curious to see if it would live up to Chief Engineer David Partlow’s boast: “You can go over anything. Not around it. Over it.”
He was right.
During an afternoon run on one of Moab’s many tough trails, it became clear that the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is ready to handle whatever you throw at it. It has plenty of wheel articulation but, even one some wildly uneven pavement, with one or more wheel off the ground, the Trailhawk’s four-wheel-drive system made it easy to muscle forward.
This immediately calls for a comparison with the new Ford Bronco. For those who are determined to take things to the absolute, outer limits, I’m told the Bronco might have an edge. But I certainly didn’t experience it. Perhaps one key difference comes with the additional cameras Ford’s SUV offers.
But when it comes to on-road manners, the Jeep wins hands down. I spent my morning racing along the Colorado River and was impressed with the Grand Cherokee’s steering and cornering. The new SUV, especially in upper trim packages, can easily replace a traditional luxury vehicle. It delivers a smooth, quiet ride — with all the onboard technology assuring you won’t hear young family members asking “Are we there yet.”
SUV buyers generally have to make trade-offs. They can opt for a product largely geared for driving on-road or one that they can take out on the trails. There’s a growing list of alternatives for off-roaders, the new Ford Bronco being the most notable example. But the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee allows you to have it all — and, if you’re willing to opt up, it offers all the features you’d expect from a traditional luxury sedan.
As noted, it doesn’t come cheap. I don’t expect many buyers will order the base Laredo, at least not without adding a few options. And you’ll likely top $50,000 for a well-equipped Summit Reserve. But, considering everything the 2022 model offers, it’s well worth the price. The new Grand Cherokee is one of the best new offerings I’ve so far driven for 2022.
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee — Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee bigger?
Yes. The two-row model is about 3.5 inches longer than the old Jeep Grand Cherokee and two inches taller. The latter figure reflects the increased ground clearance, now as much as 11.3 inches, with the Trailhawk package handling up to a maximum 24 inches of water fording.
Will the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee be redesigned?
This is the fifth-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2022 model getting a ground-up makeover. It will now be offered in three versions: the standard, 2-row, the three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L, and the plug-in hybrid Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe.
When can you buy the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee?
The Grand Cherokee L came to market early this year, with the 2-row model just rolling into dealerships now. The plug-in hybrid 4xe will follow early next year.