CHATHAM, Mass. – The full-size pickup truck might be the best-selling vehicle segment in the American market, but it is the sport utility vehicle (SUV), especially the mid-size version, which sits at the heart of the nation’s automotive world. And the Jeep Grand Cherokee, now in its fourth decade, is the epitome of the genre.
We sampled the all-new fifth-generation 2022 Grand Cherokee Overland 4X4, one of the seven trim lines, for a week of motoring around Cape Cod as well as traveling through the Hudson Valley of New York.
Powerful, efficient powertrain
Jeep offers three powertrains in the Grand Cherokee starting with the standard 293-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 and, added with this iteration of the SUV, a plug-in hybrid in the 4xe versions producing an overall output of 375 hp. The Overland I drove had the third choice, the optional ($3,295) 5.7L Hemi V8 engine which produces 357hp and 390 pounds-feet of torque.
The V-8 delivers performance and efficiency, partially thanks to variable-valve timing (VVT) and Fuel Saver Technology (cylinder deactivation). With the latter system the engine-control computer turns off fuel and spark and closes the valves to four of the engine’s cylinders during light-load operation, such as highway cruising. The system immediately re-engages the deactivated cylinders when the driver presses on the accelerator pedal. And it happens seamlessly; I never felt any change in driving characteristics while cruising I-84 in Connecticut or I-495 in Massachusetts or any roads.
These engine features are aimed at squeezing every once of efficiency out of every gallon of gasoline without sacrificing usable power. During my time behind the Grand Cherokee’s steering wheel, the Overland traveled 20.1 miles on every gallon of gasoline. I was impressed, since I was never shy with the accelerator pedal and the federal Environmental Protection Agency rated it at 17 mpg overall (14 urban, 22 highway).
This operational efficiency comes with great capability as the 5.7L V-8 Overland has a class-leading towing capacity of up to 7,200 pounds (3,265 kg).
The key remaining drivetrain components included an eight-speed automatic transmission and the Quadra-Trac II active 4WD system with a two-speed transfer case.
Underneath: a solid platform
Jeeps are engineered to take on every type of terrain while still providing luxury-vehicle on-road comfort. The new Grand Cherokee accomplishes this goal with a multi-link independent front suspension including coil springs, gas-charged, twin-tube coil-over shock absorbers, all aluminum arms and knuckles.
In the rear, the multi-link suspension includes coil spring, twin tube shocks (including load leveling for towing), all aluminum arms and knuckles (including extruded aluminum spring links).
Stopping power is provided by a power-assisted four-wheel vented disc-brake system (13.94×1.10 inch rotors, dual-piston pin-slider caliper front; 13.78x.87 inch rotors, single-piston, pin-slider electric-parking brake caliper rear). The system also includes four-channel anti-lock (ABS) and brake assist.
Full suite of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS)
This braking system provides the foundation for the comprehensive roster of ADAS. The standard ADAS includes Full-Speed Collision Warning with Active Braking and Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection; Rear Cross Path detection; Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go; Active Lane Management; LaneSense Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist; Blind-spot Monitoring; ParkSense rear park assist sensors with stop.
This Overland came with the Advanced Protech Group III option ($1,995) which also brought ADAS, such as: Night Vision Camera with pedestrian and animal detection; Intersection Collision Assist; Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition; 360-degree surround view camera system with front and rear washers and Active Driving Assist (L2) hands-on-wheel and eyes-on-road automated driving.
Comfort, luxury, technology and amenities: a full interior
Jeep talks about this being the most technologically advanced Grand Cherokee and a quick look around the leather covered interior confirms the assertion. Center stage is the 10.1-inch touchscreen at the heart of the Uconnect 5 infotainment system with the optional navigation ($1,795).
Borrowing tech introduced last year in the Grand Wagoneer, the optional ($1,095) front passenger interactive display puts a screen in front of the front-seat passenger allowing that occupant to stream videos through Fire TV (also available for the rear-seat passengers thanks to the optional, $1,995, rear-seat entertainment system).
The multi-screen system also allows these front and rear occupants to watch downloaded Prime Video content; adjust their climate-control zones and see navigation information. The front-seat passenger can also monitor and adjust navigation settings and view camera data, as well as entertainment media.
The system’s sound is pumped out by a state-of-the-art McIntosh – the brand exclusive in Jeeps — audio system featuring 19 speakers, including a 10-inch subwoofer, 950 Watts of power and 17-channel amplifier.
The test vehicle’s included Luxury Tech Group IV ($1,995) optional package upgraded the already top-end features with touches like Nappa leather for the seats (which were heated and ventilated in the front, heated in the second row); wireless charging pad; rear-view auto-dimming digital mirror (which includes a digital camera setting to mitigate interior blockage of “normal” mirror use); 12-way power-adjustable front seats, both with memory and back massagers (the driver’s memory covering the settings for the heated adjustable steering wheel and outside-mirror settings); four-zone automatic climate-control, and manual second-row window shades.
In addition to the ADAS mentioned earlier, the Advanced ProTech Group III provides a 10-inch color head-up display in the windshield and an integrated off-road camera.
The SUV pioneer’s bottom line
The base Grand Cherokee Laredo two-wheel-drive version starts at $40,720, while the top-of-the range Summit Reserve 4×4 comes in at $67,175 (plus $1,795 destination charge for all versions).
The extremely well-equipped Overland I drove had a base price of $55,305. With the option packages mentioned above as well as others like Silver Zenith paint ($395), brought the as-reviewed price to $70,360. Not an insignificant figure, but extremely competitive and, thanks to the excellent V8 fuel economy (opting for the standard V6 might mean better mileage as well as a savings of $3,295), solid value.
The new, fifth generation Grand Cherokee represents improvements in every way from its predecessors as well as maintaining its position as a premier sport utility; actually, a premier luxury vehicle.