2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee tackles off-road and on-road luxury

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Moab, Utah, is the unofficial adventure capital of the United States. Numerous off-road trails wind their way over mounds of red rock and mesas under blue skies. Winding roads wind their way through rocky and hilly geography and run along the nearby Colorado River. It’s the perfect place to showcase the on-road and off-road prowess of the redesigned 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Jeep divides the Grand Cherokee lineup for its fifth generation. The longer, three-row Grand Cherokee L. debuted earlier this year and now comes the two-row model. The vehicles share looks, engines, all-wheel drive systems and interior design, but have distinct driving characters. Count me grateful for that.

Both the Grand Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee L feature a new dedicated rear-wheel drive platform that grows from the size of the fourth generation model. With a length of 193.5 inches on a 116.7-inch wheelbase, the new Grand Cherokee is 3.4 inches longer overall and its wheelbase is 2.0 inches longer. The L is another 8.2 inches longer on a 5.0 inch longer wheelbase.

The fourth-generation model platform was the latest and best gift Mercedes-Benz made to the Chrysler Group during the DaimlerChrysler merger. The Grand Cherokee benefited from its premium bones with substantial feel and controlled ride that bordered on the sporty.

After driving the Grand Cherokee L, I worried that the fifth generation model had lost the magic dust that Mercedes had lent it. The L drives much smoother, with a leaner body and lighter steering. Families will like it, but it doesn’t have the control I expected.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Don’t worry because the two-row model has it and Jeep has made efforts to make handling of the 2022 Grand Cherokee even better. The new body cuts 250 pounds thanks to the increased use of high-strength steel. The front cradle is now mounted to the unibody, while the active engine mounts work to reduce the vibrations inherent in that change. The engine shifts 1.6 inches lower, a change that required the front axle to pass through the oil pan. A long- and short-arm front suspension returns, but the front lower center of gravity is balanced with a new independent five-link rear suspension that replaces a four-link configuration.

On the road, the new Grand Cherokee has the same substantial feel as the outgoing model. The steering is heavy and direct, which provides excellent center stability at highway speeds. A ground clearance of 8.4 inches gives the Grand Cherokee a bit of a lean in the corners despite the solid suspension, but it always feels controlled and never leans.

The air suspension and adaptive dampers of the Trailhawk, Overland and Summit models offer the best balance between ride and handling. A Sport model lowers the air suspension by just over half an inch to better combat body lean and help the Grand Cherokee carve corners more confidently, especially with the 20 and 21 inch tires available for the Overland and Summit models. rather than the gnarled 18s on the Trailhawk.

Powertrain options don’t change for 2022. Stellantis’ sturdy 3.6-liter V-6 is standard. It produces 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, which launches the SUV from 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, according to Jeep. It works well with its responsive 8-speed automatic transmission and is the wisest choice for now. The step forward is Jeep’s venerable 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 which increases power to 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque and reduces the 0-60 mph time to 6.9 seconds. It’s not much of an improvement and costs 4mpg, for 17mpg combined. Its biggest advantage is the rumble of the V-8, but a new one 4x plug-in hybrid model it will arrive next spring and should offer the same power with far better fuel economy and around 20 miles of electric driving range.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Rim running

Moab’s off-road routes are as diverse as the terrain itself. After spending the morning in a Laredo, I switched to a Trailhawk model for the ride to the Raven’s Rim private course.

While every Grand Cherokee has off-road chops, the $ 53,070 Trailhawk combines all of Jeep’s best off-road features into one model. It starts with the high-end Quadra-Drive II all-wheel drive system, which features a 2-speed transfer box and electronically locking limited-slip rear differential that can send all the power from side to side to find traction . A front anti-roll bar disconnect system allows the front tire to drop to take advantage of the suspension’s full 9.3-inch travel to find purchase when it would otherwise dangle in the air.

The design also improves off-roading. The Trailhawk has a unique front fascia that works with a maximum ground clearance of 11.3 inches (0.4 inches more than other models with air suspension) to improve the approach angle to a generous 35.7 degrees (from 20.5 degrees without air suspension and 30.1 degrees in the Overland to its maximum ride height) and the starting angle at 30.2 degrees. The Tailhawk’s 24.4-degree breakover angle is also 5.3 degrees better than the standard suspension. Everything runs on knobby tires (even on the sidewall) 265 / 60R18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory All-Terrain.

For the climb up the steep rocky hill, Jeep observers asked reporters to choose 4Lo and activate rock mode, which brought the air suspension to its maximum setting. The tires dug and the Jeep climbed corners approaching 20 degrees. We also drove along docks that tilted the Jeep 16 degrees to one side and faced rough terrain that allowed the front sway bar to disconnect the front wheels to maintain traction when one wheel was high and the other low. I could read all these corners on the off-road pages screen in the instrument cluster.

The Trailhawk handled everything like a mountain goat. The only problem I encountered was a loose stone the size of a soccer ball that shifted under the weight of the Jeep. This caused the bottom of the vehicle, but that’s what the Trailhawk’s standard skid plates are for.

The way back downhill was a little less complicated but still challenging. This time, I used the off-road cruise control system, which Jeep calls Selec-Speed ​​Control, to slowly and steadily descend the hill. This system can be adjusted in 0.6mph increments up to 5mph, setting it up and using the front view camera meant I just had to choose the right steering line to get off the pavement.

Raven’s Rim is a technical hill with sharp switchbacks and steep climbs and descents. Few Grand Cherokee Trailhawk owners will ever attack something this difficult, but it’s good to know they can. Others will buy the Trailhawk for the lifestyle that comes with its capabilities. Either way, buyers get the luxury too, with leather and vinyl seats with suede inserts, heated and cooled front seats, navigation, and a 506-watt Alpine stereo with nine speakers.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

On the border with luxury

The Grand Cherokee’s interior fittings range from premium to full luxury. The Laredo model I started with had a soft-touch dashboard and soft surfaces wherever drivers can rest an elbow for a starting price of $ 40,815 with all-wheel drive (OK, the real starting price is $ 38,815, but who’s healthy to mind buying a rear-wheel drive Grand Cherokee?). For that money, Jeep dresses the Laredo with fabric upholstery, an 8-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, an 8.4-inch center touchscreen with Amazon Alexa voice command capability, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital instrument cluster 10.3-inch, LED headlights and taillights and 17-inch alloy wheels. While it starts at $ 1,560 more than the 2021 model, it also gets more standard safety features, including adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic emergency braking.

Both the luxury and the price go up as shoppers choose top-line models. It all culminates in the $ 59,160 Summit model with the $ 6,000 Summit Reserve package. The Summit gets Quadra-Drive II with eLSD and 20-inch wheels, for more capacities, plus quilted nappa, wood trim, a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen, and more active safety features. The Summit Reserve package features Palermo leather, cooled first and second row seats, open pore wood finishes, 10.3-inch front passenger touchscreen, McIntosh audio system with 19 speakers and 21-inch wheels. At the top of the table, the Grand Cherokee rivals the Germans for luxury.

No matter the model, Grand Cherokee owners get more interior space this year. The cabin has an additional 4.1 cubic foot interior volume and a little less than an extra inch of shoulder and hip room. This gives the rear seat just enough width to fit three. Those passengers will have plenty of head and leg room, but the low seats and firm cushions provide less-than-ideal comfort. Cargo volume also improves slightly, coming in at a very useful 37.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats (from 36.3 cubic feet) and 70.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down (from 68.3 cubic feet).

All of this adds up to a spacious, comfortable and capable successor to the much-loved fourth-generation Grand Cherokee. Like the latest Grand Cherokee, the new model is a smart lifestyle choice that balances off-road prowess with on-road luxury, only now it’s safer and even more luxurious.

Jeep paid for the airfare, hotel, and access to some of the best off-road vehicles in the country for Motor Authority to bring you this first hand report.

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