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2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Test Drive Review
Redesigned for 2022, the Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers outstanding off-roading capability combined with daily-driving comfort and performance that its rivals can’t match.
Designed and engineered to impress drivers regardless of the weather, road, or terrain, the new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee retains the stylish looks and unrelenting capability for which the model is legendarily known, combined with a significant upgrade in technology and sophistication. We headed for Moab, Utah to put the redesigned 2022 Grand Cherokee to the test, sampling a wide array of trim levels and powertrains both on and off the pavement.
Look and Feel
If you look at the all-new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee and feel like you’ve seen this movie before, you’re not imagining things. Partly, this is because the 2022 Grand Cherokee checks all of the boxes on the list of Jeep design traditions. But its also because the new Grand Cherokee is a two-row version of last year’s extended-length Grand Cherokee L.
Jeep flipped the traditional script for the redesigned Grand Cherokee launch. The new three-row, seven-passenger Grand Cherokee L arrived first as a 2021 model-year vehicle. Now, the shorter and sportier two-row, five-passenger Grand Cherokee is going on sale, with a powertrain and trim-level lineup that almost mirrors its bigger sibling.
When you go shopping for a 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee, you’ll find them in Laredo, Altitude, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, and Summit Reserve trim. Jeep is well-known for offering special- and limited-edition versions of its vehicles, so more could arrive after the initial batches make their way to dealership showrooms. At launch, prices range from $37,390 to $63,365, not including the lofty $1,795 destination charge to ship it from Jeep’s Detroit factory to wherever it is that you live.
In Utah, we drove nearly every version of the new Grand Cherokee. Regardless of the trim level or powertrain, this SUV is an impressive piece of work. You can choose a Grand Cherokee Laredo for its simplicity and affordability, select a Grand Cherokee Trailhawk for its off-roading equipment and capability, or get a Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve to be pampered in luxury, and each one will faithfully deliver on their promise.
In addition to its seven-slot grille design and trapezoidal wheel arches, the new Grand Cherokee’s styling reflects influence from the first Jeep SUV, the 1963 Wagoneer. The forward-leaning grille and headlights, the lowered and level beltline, and the angled and tapered rear roof pillars all hearken back to that classic original design. Jeep also offers a black roof option on some versions of the new Grand Cherokee. And while just a handful of paint colors are available at first, we were assured that more are on the way.
Inside, the 2022 Grand Cherokee is essentially identical to the ’21 Grand Cherokee L. With Laredo trim and cloth seats, the interior is basic but supplies good quality. There is no shame in choosing this most affordable version of the Grand Cherokee, because it looks and feels more expensive than it is.
As such, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve is convincingly luxurious. Fitted with premium quilted and stitched leather; front seats with heating, ventilation and massage; a McIntosh high-end audio system; and a large panoramic sunroof, the Summit Reserve is nothing but plush.
We will say, though, that the gloss black finish used on some controls in higher trim levels suffers from reflections that can make them harder to use. Lower trims employ a matte-black finish that is more functional if not as fancy.
Overall, except for the temporarily limited selection of exterior paint colors, it is easy to find a 2022 Grand Cherokee that meets your requirements for style, comfort, and purpose.
Jeep offers the 2022 Grand Cherokee with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD), and with a V6 or a V8 engine. You won't find any turbocharged four-cylinder engines here. However, later in the model year, the new Grand Cherokee 4xe arrives with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
All of the test vehicles had 4WD, and most had the standard 3.6-liter V6 engine. It generates 293 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The tow rating, regardless of drivetrain, is 6,200 pounds.
A 5.7-liter V8 engine is available with higher trim levels, and only with 4WD. The Hemi V8 supplies 357 hp at a more accessible 5,150 rpm and 390 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm, and bumps towing capacity to 7,200 pounds when the Grand Cherokee is properly equipped.
Three different 4WD systems are available. Quadra-Trac I is fully automatic and will deliver power to the Grand Cherokee’s front wheels when the rear wheels slip. Available only with Laredo, Altitude, and Limited trim, Quadra-Trac I pairs solely with the V6 engine is suitable only for slippery conditions and light off-roading.
Quadra-Trac II is similar but has a two-speed transfer case with 4-Hi and 4-Lo settings. This provides drivers with the manual control necessary to navigate more difficult terrain. It is available with both the V6 and V8 engines but only with Overland trim.
For serious off-roading, you’ll want Quadra-Drive II. It has a two-speed transfer case and can also put up to 100% of engine output to a single rear wheel to help get the Grand Cherokee up and over obstacles. Quadra-Drive II is compatible with both engines. It is standard in the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Summit Reserve trim, and optional on the Summit.
Every Grand Cherokee uses an eight-speed automatic transmission with a fiddly dial-style transmission shifter. For some reason, we found it easy to select Drive instead of Park, only to discover after releasing the brake pedal that the Grand Cherokee was still in gear. Hopefully, owners will get up to speed faster than we did.
The EPA estimates for fuel economy range from 17 mpg in combined driving with the V8 and 4WD to 21 mpg with the V6 and any drivetrain. Our results ranged from 17 mpg with the V8 and Quadra-Trac II to 21.3 with the V6 and Quadra-Trac I. These reported results do not include our experience in the Trailhawk, which was largely restricted to off-roading with Quadra-Drive II in 4-Lo mode.
Speaking of the Trailhawk, let’s start there. It has standard Quadra-Drive II, an electronic locking rear differential, a Quadra-Lift air suspension delivering up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance and 24 inches of water fording capability, and improved approach (35.7 degrees), breakover (24.4 degrees), and departure (30.2 degrees) angles. Jeep bolts 18-inch wheels to this version of the Grand Cherokee, and they’re wrapped in 265/60 Goodyear Wrangler Territory all-terrain tires that hum loudly on pavement. High-strength skid plates protect the Trailhawk’s tender bits, and a front sway-bar disconnect function adds wheel articulation.
In addition to Selec-Terrain driving modes devised for a wide variety of surfaces and situations, the Trailhawk also features Selec-Speed off-road cruise control, which maintains a set single-digit speed while the driver focuses on keeping the Grand Cherokee shiny side up. It also has a forward-facing off-road camera with pathway lines showing the driver where the front wheels will tread.
Jeep took us up a steep, narrow, rocky trail with sharply angled switchbacks to an off-road course that looked more like pristine, untraveled terrain. Now, Jeep obviously isn’t going to put the new Grand Cherokee into a situation that will reveal anything less than its superior off-roading capability, but even with that in mind, this SUV proved itself to be a rock-hopping rock star.
Using all tools at our disposal, and with the assistance of spotters who helped us get over and around obstacles without bruising our pride or the Grand Cherokee (much), the Trailhawk achieved what at first looked like the impossible. Honestly, if we were out in the wild alone and encountered a similar challenge, we’d just turn around and go back the way we came.
Driven briefly on pavement, the Trailhawk’s tire whirr is either pleasing or irritating, depending on your perspective. This version’s off-road-tuned suspension also felt a little firmer and less forgiving, again a pro or a con depending on who you are. Suffice it to say that unless you need the Trailhawk’s capability, one of the other Grand Cherokee models is likely more satisfying in the long run.
Also, despite its comparative lack of refinement and less enjoyable soundtrack, the stout V6 is our pick between the two engines. It puts less weight over the SUV’s front wheels and is more efficient while providing good acceleration and passing power. The V8 is a sweetheart though, emitting a thrilling burble at idle and refined roar when your right foot depresses the accelerator pedal. It comes at a cost, though, both in terms of its price and the fuel it swills.
As for ride, handling, and manueverability, the Grand Cherokee is more appealing than the larger and heavier Grand Cherokee L. It feels more nimble and athletic, and whether or not you’ve selected a version with the adaptive damping Quadra-Lift air suspension, the ride quality is excellent. In fact, we’d recommend steering clear of Quadra-Lift for two reasons. First, the cost and complexity of fixing it in the future is worthy of concern. Second, the new Grand Cherokee feels more like the old Grand Cherokee without it.
Yes, that’s a good thing. The Grand Cherokee has always had a specific driving character, delivering compliance without feeling too soft, rolling a bit to remind a driver to keep speeds in check on twists and turns, and providing a feel for the road but with plenty of refinement. Quadra-Lift dulls this to a degree, making the Grand Cherokee feel less like its old self from behind the wheel.
Your results, however, may vary.
Form and Function
Every 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is comfortable for the driver and front passenger, though some versions are more satisfying than others. As you move up the rungs of the trim-level ladder, you get heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, front seat massagers, and more. However, even the base Laredo with its cloth upholstery is comfortable and provides a sense of underlying substance and quality.
One of the goals with the Grand Cherokee’s redesign was to improve visibility. Based on our experience, Jeep achieves this objective. That is especially true when off-roading, as it is now easier to look out of the driver’s side window to gain additional situational awareness. But in other driving situations, improved sightlines and camera technologies add driver confidence. The available panoramic sunroof lends an airy feel to the Grand Cherokee’s cabin, too.
In the summer of 2021, when we tested a Grand Cherokee L in sunny and hot Southern California, the air conditioning seemed weak, lacking an ability to produce frosty air and suffering flow issues through the rather narrow dashboard air vents. On this outing, on a sunny day in November with temperatures in the mid-60s, cooling the cabin did not prove problematic. But then, the weather in Utah was just about perfect.
Rear-seat room remains tight for adults with long legs, and the plastic front seatback trim doesn’t help. Sure, it adds durability, but is painful to knees and shins. If you plan to carry taller passengers on a regular basis, consider the Grand Cherokee L, which supplies an extra 1.2 inches of second-row legroom thanks to its exclusive sliding seats.
Likewise, the three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L carries greater amounts of cargo, in part due to its more vertical rear window and liftgate design. But the two-row Grand Cherokee is nevertheless accommodating, especially behind the back seat where you’ll find 37.7 cubic feet of cargo space (vs. 46.9 cubic feet in the Grand Cherokee L). Fold the back seat down and the Grand Cherokee can hold 70.8 cubic feet of luggage (vs. 84.6 cubic feet).
Unlike with the previous-generation Grand Cherokee, there is no shortage of technology in this new 2022 model.
From a comprehensive head-up display and a Night Vision system that can spot people and animals on the road ahead, to a camera-based rearview mirror and no fewer than five different interior touchscreens for information and entertainment, the 2022 Grand Cherokee is a tech powerhouse. You can even get a fantastic 19-speaker McIntosh high-end audio system in this Jeep, as well as a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system with Amazon Fire TV integration that allows you to pause programming in your home and then pick right up where you left off during the journey.
Jeep equips every 2022 Grand Cherokee with its next-generation Uconnect 5 infotainment system. Uconnect 5 offers a claimed five-fold improvement in responsiveness, and gets better over time thanks to over-the-air software updates. In most trims, it comes with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, but every version of the Grand Cherokee except for the Laredo offers a 10.1-inch touchscreen as an upgrade. The larger screen is standard with Summit and Summit Reserve trim.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with Amazon Alexa integration, SiriusXM 360L satellite radio, voice recognition, and voice text reply capability. The Bluetooth connection supports two devices at the same time, always a handy feature for modern families. Upgrades include navigation, HD Radio, and SiriusXM Guardian connected services.
In use, Uconnect 5 offers a configurable Home display and easy access to main menus. The voice recognition technology works well, but is not infallible. You can rouse the system with a wake phrase such as “Hey Jeep,” or push the appropriate button on the steering wheel.
The larger 10.1-inch Uconnect screen is a perfect companion to the Grand Cherokee’s standard 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster and available 10-inch head-up display. But what is likely to wow the crowds is the optional 10.25-inch touchscreen Jeep installs on the Grand Cherokee’s dashboard directly in front of the passenger.
Optional starting with Limited trim, the “front passenger interactive display” allows the person riding shotgun to assist the driver to reduce distraction. At the same time, this personal display also gives the right front-seat occupant their own entertainment options. Game changer? Maybe, but it’s not cheap, running just under an extra two grand.
Jeep also fortifies the new Grand Cherokee with an impressive collection of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Not only that, but Jeep composes the underlying structure extensively of aluminum and high-strength steel. In fact, Jeep claims that only 27% of the safety cage remains mild-grade steel.
That’s good news. We’ve always liked the Grand Cherokee, but found it hard to recommend the SUV due to its mediocre crash protection. It remains to be seen if the new one performs better in crash-tests, but if you examine the previous-generation’s performance in this regard, you’d wonder how the 2022 model could possibly do worse.
As for the package of ADAS, it equips the Grand Cherokee with the usual suspects related to driving assistance and collision avoidance. Intersection Collision Assist is an unusual feature, serving as a front cross-traffic warning feature as you approach or attempt a turn at an intersection.
Active Driving Assist is also new for 2022, and demonstrates just how technologically advanced the Grand Cherokee is. This system provides Level 2 hands-on semi-autonomous driving assistance in the form of adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and a lane-centering assistance system.
Active Driving Assist is effective on the road, but the highways near Moab did not present the same kind of challenge that four lanes of Los Angeles freeway might. It is worth noting that the system would disconnect if curves were too tight, so drivers must pay attention and be ready to take full control when necessary.
Also noteworthy is that a hands-free version of Active Driving Assist is coming in 2022, allowing drivers to let go of the steering wheel on approved roads across North America. You’ll still need to pay attention, but a year from now you’ll be able to let the Grand Cherokee do the bulk of the driving on certain roads and under specific conditions.
Every 2022 Grand Cherokee includes the Jeep Wave program, which provides three complimentary oil changes and tire rotations during the first 36 months of ownership with no mileage restrictions (among other perks). However, this is not enough to make the Jeep Grand Cherokee a cost-effective choice in a five-passenger SUV.
Why? For starters, any paint color except for Bright White costs extra money. The destination charge is higher than what Ford would bill you to ship a much larger and heavier F-450 Super Duty dually to your dealership. And Quadra-Trac I—a basic front-axle disconnect 4WD setup—costs another two grand. This means a Grand Cherokee Laredo with 4WD, sparkly paint, and 18-inch wheels runs a minimum MSRP of $42,375. And prices only rise from there.
What you’re really paying for here is the Jeep name, Jeep capability, and an all-access pass into the Jeep community. Plus, there aren’t any alternatives that blend the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s rugged good looks, satisfying on-pavement driving dynamics, impressive foul weather and off-road capabilities, and high-tech interior in an American-made package.
These are undeniably strong draws, all reasons the previous-generation Grand Cherokee remained a best-selling model despite its lack of a third-row seat and a decade-old design that offered sketchy crash protection. But now, the product itself is largely worthy of the premium Jeep asks for it.
Whether or not you find a Grand Cherokee to be a cost-effective choice is entirely dependent on what you value most in a new five-passenger SUV.
What's your take on the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee?
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