The Grand Cherokee has been one of the most popular SUVs on the road for quite some time now, and it’s only become better with each passing generation. The latest model is certainly an impressive piece of machinery, but as soon as you compare it to the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), you can see just how different these models are. It’s not that it has much the standard Grand Cherokee doesn’t––other than the powertrain, of course––but rather that it has everything the standard model does, along with its fantastic engine.
Jeep has been slowly rolling out its 4xe models as a first step toward wider electrification, and the results have been quite impressive. The powertrain that they loaded into the Grand Cherokee 4xe is superior to what you can get in a standard model with a conventional engine in pretty much every way. When you consider that the Grand Cherokee 4xe is available in the Trailhawk trim, it becomes clear that Jeep wants to demonstrate how PHEV and Battery-Electric Vehicles (BEVs) can be just as impressive as conventional models. Let me show you why the 4xe is set to take over the market.
The Powertrain Story
I’m starting with the powertrain because there’s really no reason to bury the lede on this one––it’s the clearest example of just how much the 4xe dominates within the Grand Cherokee lineup. For starters, the standard models––those other than the 4xe––have a couple of different engines available, beginning with a 3.6L Pentastar V6. This standard engine delivers 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, which is decent, if not particularly spectacular. It can handle up to 6,200 lbs of maximum towing capacity when properly equipped for it. The standard engine comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission; in fact, this transmission comes with every engine, even the hybrid in the 4xe model.
For those looking for more robust power, there’s an available 5.7L V8 engine that puts out an impressive 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. With this engine and four-wheel drive, the Grand Cherokee can handle up to 7,200 lbs of maximum towing capacity. It’s worth pointing out that this is the one way that a conventional gas-only model can beat the 4xe, but only if you choose this available engine. Otherwise, the 4xe is pretty much just as good at towing as standard models with the V6 engine and either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is powered by an exclusive 2.0L I-4 hybrid engine, which delivers a fantastic combined 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. This is significantly more horsepower than either standard gas engine and far more torque, which can be incredibly important with an SUV like this, especially if you’re interested in going off-road. The 4xe tops out at 6,000 lbs of towing capacity; as I said, the available V8 engine can beat this, but the standard engine offers nearly identical towing power. Every 4xe model comes with four-wheel drive standard, with the starting trim featuring a Quadra-Trac I 4WD system, though higher trims have the more-advanced Quadra-Trac II system instead.
There are three drive modes you can choose from while behind the wheel of the 4xe, which affects fuel economy and your overall driving experience. Hybrid Mode fully utilizes the standard turbocharged gas engine and the electric motor system. Electric Mode uses the electric motor for zero-emission driving with about 25 miles of all-electric range. Finally, ESave Mode focuses on the gas engine, saving your battery power for later. When utilized properly, these drive modes get an estimated 56 MPGe of fuel economy, and the 4xe can go up to 470 miles from a full tank of gas and charged battery.
For the most part, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is available in all of the same trims as the conventional Grand Cherokee, so you don’t have to choose one or the other just for great features. For example, the Summit trim of both models comes with the Quadra-Drive II 4WD system and the available Quadra-Lift Air Suspension, which is great for getting around town and improving your angles while driving off-road (more on that below). The Summit also features Jeep’s Selec-Terrain Traction Management System with five traction settings, including Sport, Rock, Snow, and Sand/Mud. Other great features like advanced safety technology, a Remote Start System, and a 10.1-inch infotainment display with the latest Uconnect 5 software are also standard on Grand Cherokee Summit and Grand Cherokee 4xe Summit models.
In a few instances, there are some differences worth mentioning, and they generally lean toward making the 4xe a better option. For the Limited trim, for example, the standard models come with Quadra-Trac I 4WD, while the 4xe Limited comes with the advanced Quadra-Trac II system. Similarly, a nine-speaker Alpine sound system is available on the standard Limited models but comes included for the 4xe Limited, while a 10.1-inch Front-Passenger Interactive Display is available as part of a package for the 4xe Limited but isn’t offered on the standard version of this trim. Finally, one noteworthy exception is that the Laredo trim is offered on two-row and three-row versions of the standard Grand Cherokee but isn’t available for the 4xe.
Off-Road Performance and Capability
One of the main concerns for a lot of people when Jeep first announced they were introducing PHEV versions of some of their models was whether they’d be able to live up to Jeep’s reputation for incredible off-road capability. Fortunately, the Wrangler 4xe has already demonstrated how well it can do, and the Grand Cherokee 4xe followed suit with a similarly terrific performance. In large part, this is due to the fact that the Grand Cherokee 4xe has the same Trailhawk trim available as the conventional model, which includes a collection of features perfect for leaving the road behind.
For example, the 4xe Trailhawk features Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II 4×4 system with a Rear Electronic Limited-Slip Differential, including a two-speed transfer case. This Trailhawk model also comes with Front-Axle Disconnect functionality and the Quadra-Lift Air Suspension that helps boost its ground clearance and angles when on the trail. If you like to do a lot of off-roading that involves rock crawling or dealing with other obstacles, then this advanced suspension is a huge boon.
The standard two-row Grand Cherokee model has eight inches of ground clearance, while the Quadra-Lift Air Suspension boosts this to more than ten inches for the 4xe model. Similarly, this suspension allows for a 33.8-degree approach angle, nearly 21-degree breakover angle, and 28.2-degree departure angle. This is a big part of why the Grand Cherokee can handle some impressive off-roading, and having this included on many 4xe models makes it perfect for hitting the trail, though the 4xe Trailhawk is definitely the best choice for heading off-road.
Jeep has clearly thought of everything since the Grand Cherokee 4xe has a water-sealed battery pack that allows it to ford through up to 24 inches of water without issue. Similarly, the underbody of the 4xe model features a reinforced housing for its hybrid powertrain systems to protect them even on rough terrain.
The 4xe May Be the Best Grand Cherokee Model
With such impressive power and torque, fantastic overall fuel economy, and off-road performance just as good as any other Grand Cherokee model, there’s no denying that the 4xe has proven itself. It has all of the best attributes of the Jeep Grand Cherokee combined with the efficiency and perks of a hybrid powertrain. Unless Jeep comes out with a new electric version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 4xe may sit at the top of the line for a while.