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2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee tackles off-road trails and on-road luxury – Car Planet
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    2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee tackles off-road trails and on-road luxury


    Moab, Utah, is the unofficial adventure capital of the U.S. Numerous off-road trails wind their way up red rock buttes and mesas under an azure sky. Twisty roads snake through the rocky, hilly geography and run along the nearby Colorado River. It’s the ideal location to show off both the on- and off-road prowess of the redesigned 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

    Jeep splits the Grand Cherokee lineup for its fifth generation. The longer, three-row Grand Cherokee L debuted earlier this year, and now the two-row model arrives. The vehicles share looks, engines, four-wheel-drive systems, and interior designs, but they have distinct driving characters. Count me thankful for that.

    Both the Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L ride a new dedicated rear-wheel-drive platform that grows from the dimensions of the fourth-gen model. At 193.5 inches long 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 wheelbase that’s 5.0 inches longer.

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

    After driving the Grand Cherokee L, I worried that the fifth-generation model had lost the magic dust Mercedes had lent it. The L rides much more softly, with more noticeable body lean and lighter steering. It will appeal to families, 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

    2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    Not to worry because the two-row model has it, and Jeep put in the effort to make the 2022 Grand Cherokee handle even better. The new body cuts 250 lb thanks to greater use of high-strength steel. The front cradle is now hard-mounted to the unibody, while active engine mounts work to reduce the vibrations inherent in that change. The engine moves 1.6 inches lower, a change that required routing the front axle through the oil pan. A long-arm, short arm front suspension returns, but the lower center of gravity up front is balanced with a new five-link independent rear suspension that replaces a four-link setup.

    On the road, the new Grand Cherokee has the same substantial feel as the outgoing model. The steering is weighty and direct, which provides excellent on-center stability at highway speeds. A tall ground clearance of 8.4 inches gives the Grand Cherokee some lean in corners despite the firm suspension, but it always feels controlled and never tippy.

    The air suspension and adaptive dampers of the Trailhawk, Overland, and Summit models provide the best balance of ride and handling. A Sport model lowers the air suspension a little more than a half inch to better combat body lean and help the Grand Cherokee carve corners with more confidence, especially with the available 20- and 21-inch tires for the Overland and Summit models rather than the knobby 18s on the Trailhawk.

    Powertrain options don’t change for 2022. Stellantis’ robust 3.6-liter V-6 comes standard. It makes 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 wiser choice for now. The step up is Jeep’s venerable Hemi 5.7-liter V-8 that ups the output to 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque and cuts the 0-60 mph time to 6.9 seconds. That’s not much of an improvement, and it costs 4 mpg, for 17 mpg combined. Its biggest advantage is the V-8 rumble, but a new 4xe plug-in hybrid model is coming next spring that should offer about as much power with far better fuel economy and 20 or so 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 trails are as diverse as the terrain itself. After spending the morning in a Laredo, I switched over to a Trailhawk model for the run up the private course at Raven’s Rim.

    While every Grand Cherokee has off-road chops, the $53,070 Trailhawk combines all of Jeep’s best off-road features in one model. It starts with the top-line Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system, which features a 2-speed transfer case and an electronic locking limited-slip rear differential that can send all of the power from one side to the other to find traction. A front sway bar disconnect system lets either front tire drop to take advantage of the full 9.3 inches of suspension travel to find purchase when it would otherwise dangle in the air.

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

    For the climb up the steep, rocky hill, Jeep’s spotters had journalists choose 4Lo and engage Rock mode, which sent the air suspension to its highest setting. The tires dug in and the Jeep scaled angles that approached 20 degrees. We also drove alongside berms that tilted the Jeep 16 degrees to one side, and dealt with rutted terrain that let the disconnecting front sway bar drop the front wheels to maintain traction when one wheel was rode high and the other low. I could read all of these angles on the off-road pages screen in the instrument cluster.

    The Trailhawk handled it all like a mountain goat. The only issue I experienced was a football-sized loose rock that shifted under the Jeep’s weight. That caused the vehicle to bottom out, but that’s what the Trailhawk’s standard skid plates are for.

    The way back down the hill was slightly less tricky but still challenging. This time, I used the off-road cruise control system, which Jeep calls Selec-Speed Control, to slowly and steadily pick my way down the hill. This system can be adjusted in 0.6 mph increments up to 5 mph. Setting it and using the forward-view camera meant I only had to choose the right steering line to get down to pavement.

    Raven’s Rim is a technical hill with sharp switchbacks and steep ascents and descents. Few Grand Cherokee Trailhawk owners will ever attack something this tough, but it’s good to know that they can. Others will buy the Trailhawk for the lifestyle that comes with its capability. In both cases, buyers get luxury, too, with leather and vinyl seats with suede inserts, heated and cooled front seats, navigation, and an Alpine 506-watt 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

    Bordering on luxury

    The appointments of the Grand Cherokee’s cabin range from premium to full-on luxury. The Laredo model I started in had a soft-touch dashpad and soft surfaces wherever drivers may rest an elbow for a starting price of $40,815 with four-wheel drive (OK, the real starting price is $38,815, but who in their right mind buys a rear-wheel-drive Grand Cherokee?). For that money, Jeep outfits the Laredo with cloth upholstery, an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat, an 8.4-inch center touchscreen with Amazon Alexa voice command capability, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster, LED headlights and taillights, and 17-inch alloy wheels. While it starts at $1,560 higher 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 rise as buyers choose higher-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 the eLSD and 20-inch wheels, for more capability, plus quilted nappa leather, wood trim, a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen, and more active-safety features. The Summit Reserve package comes with Palermo leather, cooled first- and second-row seats, open-pore wood trim, a 10.3-inch front passenger touchscreen, a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, and 21-inch wheels. At the top of the lineup, 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 feet of interior volume, and a little less than an inch more shoulder room and hip room. That gives the rear seat enough width to fit three across. Those passengers will have plenty of head room and leg room, but low seat bottoms and hard cushions make for less than ideal comfort. Cargo volume improves slightly, too, to a very useful 37.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats (up from 36.3 cubes) and 70.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat (up from 68.3 cubic feet).

    It all adds up to a spacious, comfortable, capable successor to the well-loved fourth-generation Grand Cherokee. Like the last 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 airfare, hotel, and access to some of the best off-roading in the country for Motor Authority to bring you this firsthand report.



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