2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee: First Drive Review
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
One of the most successful SUVs of all time, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has sold more than 7 million units since its introduction in 1992, and has been the top-selling Jeep through the first three quarters of 2021. So a Jeep Grand Cherokee redesign presents a daunting task to those responsible for the vehicle’s continued success. The fifth-generation Grand Cherokee debuted early in 2021 with the launch of the first-ever longer wheelbase, three-row 2021 Grand Cherokee L, now followed by the 5-seat 2022 Grand Cherokee. The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee has all-new architecture including a new exterior design, a new interior, upscale craftsmanship and new technology.
When it goes on sale this winter, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be offered in seven trim levels: Laredo, Altitude, Limited, Overland, Trailhawk, Summit and Summit Reserve with the standard Pentastar V6 engine. A 5.7-liter V8 engine is available on Overland, Trailhawk, Summit and Summit Reserve at an additional cost of $3,295 — and only with 4-wheel drive. In early 2022 the Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid will be offered in Limited, Overland, Trailhawk, Summit and Summit Reserve.
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo starts at $37, 390; the Altitude at $41,945; the Limited at $43,710; and the off-road-focused Trailhawk at $51,275. At the upper end, the more luxurious Overland starts at $53,305; the Summit at $57,365; and Summit Reserve at $63,365. Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is only available with 4-wheel drive; all other trims are available with 4-wheel drive for an additional cost of $2,000. Prices do not include $1,795 destination charge.
The exterior design of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is no surprise given that the Grand Cherokee L debuted last January, although the Grand Cherokee has a different roofline and profile, it sits on a 5-inch-shorter wheelbase, and the overall length is 11.4 inches less than Grand Cherokee L. The new 5-seat Grand Cherokee is 3.7 inches longer than the outgoing model and rides on a 1-inch-longer wheelbase. Like the Grand Cherokee L, the roofline is lower and tapered, while the beltline is also lower to allow more light into the interior and improve outward visibility. For the first time, Grand Cherokee offers a gloss black roof for upper trim levels.
Aero Enhancements, Wheel Choices
The iconic 7-slot grille of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is wider and larger, with a new front fascia designed to conceal the long-range radar and other high-tech components. The longer hood and wider track add to the SUV’s bold stance, and aerodynamic enhancements include active grille shutters, front-wheel spats and air curtains. Eight wheel choices are offered on different trim levels, including 21-inch wheels for the first time. At the rear, Grand Cherokee features slim wraparound LED taillights and integrated exhaust outlets at the edges of the lower fascia to bookend the wide stance.
Under the Hood
The standard powerplant across the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup is an all-aluminum 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine producing 290 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque, with a tow rating of up to 6,200 pounds. The other engine choice is a 5.7-liter V8 producing 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, which increases the towing capacity to 7,200 pounds. Both engines get teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a choice of three 4WD systems: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II. Quadra-Trac I features a single-speed active transfer case that employs multiple sensors to preemptively adjust torque distribution, sending up to 100 percent of power to the front or rear axle. Quadra-Trac II gets a 2-speed transfer case with low-range gear reduction. Quadra-Drive II adds a rear electronic limited-slip differential with the ability to direct torque to individual wheels as necessary. For the first time, the Grand Cherokee features front-axle disconnect to reduce drag on the system in situations when 4-wheel drive is not needed.
Jeep’s new Quadra-Lift air suspension features electronic adaptive damping that automatically adjusts to changing road conditions for improved comfort and control. The system can be operated manually and has the ability to lower the Grand Cherokee by 1.8 inches for easy entry and exit, or increase ground clearance to 11.3 inches (Trailhawk) for traversing difficult terrain. At maximum ground clearance, the new SUV can navigate water up to 24 inches deep.
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee has preset drive modes to optimize the drivetrain, suspension and electronic driver aids for different conditions. The modes include Automatic, Sport, Rock, Snow and Mud / Sand. These settings configure the torque split, braking, steering, suspension, throttle control, transmission, traction control, stability control and anti-lock brakes as needed for various driving conditions.
Even more impressive than the exterior updates, the interior of the 2022 Grand Cherokee has a clean dashboard design with a horizontal lower wing to keep the eye level up, combined with horizontal vents to emphasize the vehicle’s width. A standard 10.1-inch display integrates seamlessly at the center, with a combination of digital and physical buttons for quick navigation. Climate control as well as volume and tuning knobs are within easy reach. A new rotary shifter as well as other drive controls for ride height and mode selection sit lower on the center console. First seen on Grand Wagoneer, a 10.25-inch front passenger interactive display is available, as well as a new high-definition rear-seat entertainment system with Fire TV.
Fire TV, McIntosh Audio
Available Fire TV allows passengers to stream videos, play games, listen to music, get information, and watch downloaded content while on the road. Front-seat controls allow the passenger to monitor content or apps being used in the rear seat, quickly start a movie on the rear displays, as well as pause or stop the content on rear displays. An available state-of-the-art McIntosh audio system features 19 custom-designed speakers, including a 10-inch subwoofer, 950 watts of power and a 17-channel amplifier.
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Hosting an event in Moab, Utah, Jeep invited us to be among the first to drive the 2022 Grand Cherokee on scenic highways and technical off-road trails. When seeing the new Grand Cherokee, our initial impression was that Jeep designers hit the mark with the exterior design. Observers will immediately recognize the vehicle as a Grand Cherokee, and a closer inspection confirms the new model as the previous design begins to fade. The forward tilt of the grille and slim headlights signal changes for the new model, and the slim taillights seal the deal. Even though we remain fans of the previous generation’s design (one that stayed relevant for a decade with minimal updates), one look at the new version confirms the new look is a welcome change.
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Grand Cherokee L
The 2021 Grand Cherokee L has been around for almost a year, and the arrival of the 2022 Grand Cherokee highlights differences between the two. Even though the two variants share the same overall design, and the three-row Grand Cherokee L adds a choice for buyers who need a third row or additional cargo capacity, the 5-seat Grand Cherokee remains our favorite. With its shorter length and tapering D-pilar, the profile and proportions of the Grand Cherokee are nearly perfect — once again it stands out from the crowd.
Historically as the SUV evolved into a mainstream vehicle for most American drivers, the Grand Cherokee also evolved into a more refined experience with luxury features and materials. Even the entry Grand Cherokee Laredo with its cloth seats sports a well-appointed interior exuding a feeling of quality, thanks to a digital instrument cluster and standard touchscreen center display. At the upper end, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve trims provide a truly luxurious experience with Nappa or Palermo leather seats and other premium trim materials. The steering wheel is a little bulky at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, making it difficult for some drivers to get their hands around the wheel rim. Granted it’s still comfortable but a little awkward.
On the Road
Based on new architecture that provides a stiffer platform, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee suspension has been tuned to be smooth on road while still providing off-road capability. The interior is also noticeably quiet since engineers focused on isolating engine noise to enhance the new model’s driving experience. The ride is smooth for the size and capability of the vehicle, and the steering feels responsive — even in the Laredo on 18-inch wheels and taller tires. The ride remains smooth even on upper trims with 20-inch wheels and corresponding tires.
On the Road
Although the optional V8 engine provides additional towing capacity and more power at highway speeds, the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine does an excellent job in the Grand Cherokee. Combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission, Grand Cherokee offers decent acceleration from a standstill and has as much power as most drivers will ever need. The transmission does an excellent job keeping the engine in the right power range as needed. At highway speeds, the V8 does provide noticeably more power for acceleration while passing.
As expected, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee retains the off-road capability that confounds its rivals, particularly the off-road-focused Trailhawk, which includes the aforementioned front ani-sway bar disconnect for improved suspension articulation in difficult off-road situations. We had the opportunity to take the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk off-road outside Moab, Utah, climbing several thousand feet above the town on steep dirt roads through some difficult sections of rocks and boulders. Some of the trail included 20-degree inclines with tight switchback turns, as well as large rock sections requiring the help of expert spotters to navigate safely.
Grand Cherokee — or Wrangler Rubicon?
During our test run, the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk handled tricky off-road obstacles so well at one point — after climbing through a section of large rocks — we had to remind ourselves that we were driving a Grand Cherokee — not a Wrangler Rubicon. Although most Grand Cherokee owners will never tackle off-road conditions as technical as those around Moab, it’s nice to know that even as the Grand Cherokee grows and becomes more refined as the market evolves, the Trailhawk still exists with off-road capability true to Jeep’s heritage.
Right for You?
One of the original models that moved utility vehicles into mainstream America, the Grand Cherokee continues to keep in step with the market and — despite dozens of new competitors over the years — remains one of the most popular models today. The arrival of the next-generation 2022 Grand Cherokee offers a fresh exterior design and a high-level of interior refinement, including the luxury Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve versions. And even though all trim levels offer 4-wheel drive, the Trailhawk is equipped and tuned to offer the highest level of off-road capability. Given the breadth of trims offered on the new Grand Cherokee, anyone in market for a 5-seat, midsize SUV should consider this newest model from one of the original SUVs.
Pros: Great exterior design updates; even better interior; extreme off-road to top-level luxury.
Cons: Steering wheel bulky; added tech and luxury can get expense.
Bottom Line: One of the best-selling SUVs of all time is now even better.
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