So, you’ve got your electric vehicles, and you’ve got off-roaders. What happens when we combine the two? Is it even possible? Not too long ago, it may have seemed impossible, but Jeep, the off-roading king, begged to differ, and the result is the brand new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe. What makes this vehicle so special, aside from the obvious, is that it’s the most capable Grand Cherokee the manufacturer has ever developed. Why is this? Well, this isn’t your average ordinary electric vehicle––it’s a plug-in hybrid that uses both electricity and gasoline. We’ll discuss some more of that later, but for now, all you need to know is that the Grand Cherokee 4xe is powerful, fuel-efficient, and incredibly capable for off-roading adventures.
The 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe sports a starting MSRP of $58,095 and comes in five trims. Of course, this is a noticeable increase over the regular Grand Cherokee, even when paired with the incredibly-performant 5.7L V8 engine. However, even that V8 is outperformed by the Grand Cherokee 4xe’s powertrain. And the starting price for the Grand Cherokee 4xe is still less than the Grand Cherokee Summit or Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve. All and all, it’s priced just right against its competition, which is crucial in this business as any.
But how would electric off-roading even work? With price out of the way, let’s start talking about the power of this vehicle and how the off-roading generally works in this sort of configuration because I know that’s why you’re all here.
Playing With Power
The main draw of the Grand Cherokee 4xe is its electric and gasoline powertrain combo. This is the real reason why heads are turning away from the tried and true Grand Cherokee. The gasoline portion of the powertrain is Jeep’s proven 2.0L turbocharged I-4, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 8-speed automatic transmission is important to note because most hybrids commonly use Continuously Variable Transmissions. Of course, these have their own benefits when it comes to fuel economy, but since the Grand Cherokee 4xe is designed with off-roading in mind, having the 8-speed helps tremendously.
Like most hybrids, this engine links to a dual-motor setup and a lithium battery––a 17.3 kWh battery, to be exact. Because this is a plug-in vehicle, fuel efficiency can’t be measured in the same way that you’d measure its gasoline-powered equivalent. When in electric mode, the 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe gets 56 MPGe and can travel 26 miles on a full charge. Switch over to gasoline mode, and the vehicle gets 23 MPG and can travel 444 miles on a full gas tank.
You’re probably wondering why I said the Grand Cherokee 4xe outperforms the regular Grand Cherokee earlier, and that’s because the electrified off-roader creates 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Comparatively, the 5.7L V8 engine outputs 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, while the lower-spec 3.6L V6 engine produces only 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, so there’s the answer to that. There’s one exception, however, and that’s towing. The Grand Cherokee V8 tows a maximum of 7,200 lbs, but the 6,200 lbs of towing that the V6 allows for is much more in-line with the Grand Cherokee 4xe’s 6,000 lbs of towing. Not bad so far, but that doesn’t tell us how this will do when off-roading. So, let’s start discussing that.
The Off-Roading Tech
There are a few concerns that Jeep had to face when building an electric off-roading vehicle. As one example, what would happen if water were to engulf the battery? If you’ve ever dropped a phone in water, you already know the answer to this. Because of this, Jeep installed the battery in a sealed waterproof box, and the result is an electric off-roader that can face up to two feet of water without facing any potential damage. Aside from that, hybrids and electric vehicles usually store their batteries in a flat horizontal position underneath the vehicle, so a challenge that Jeep faced was how to ensure safe off-roading travel without damaging anything under the vehicle with the natural-occurring hazards of off-roading, such as rocks and stumps. Because of this, Jeep puts a strong plate underneath the vehicle that can withstand the variousness of most terrains.
I want to briefly discuss the available powertrain modes, however, because they play a large role in how this vehicle operates. Hybrid mode, which is likely going to be the prioritized mode when someone takes this vehicle off-roading, relies on the turbocharged engine under the hood. This mode ensures greater power is given to the Grand Cherokee 4xe by combining the forces of the engine, motors, and battery, which off-roading moments would call for.
Electric mode, as expected, shuts the gasoline engine off, and the vehicle becomes a fully-electric SUV. This mode saves drivers fuel when needed, but there’s also the opposite: ESave mode. ESave mode uses the engine, and nothing more, which makes it more of a traditional gasoline-powered Grand Cherokee. Drivers have the option to manually switch between the modes, which creates some interesting possibilities. For instance, you could use ESave mode on the highway as you travel to the trail, then switch to Electric mode when you head off-road to enjoy nature in silence. But when you encounter a particularly difficult obstacle, you can put it into Hybrid mode to enjoy the full 470 lb-ft of torque.
One other feature found in the Grand Cherokee 4xe is ultimately what makes off-roading a breeze. This is the Quadra-Trac 4×4 system. Every version of the 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe comes standard with either Quadra-Trac or the enhanced Quadra-Trac II, which includes a two-speed transfer case for improved off-road performance. The Quadra-Trac 4×4 system is an intelligent feature that will instantly switch all of the torque output to the wheels that can use it if the vehicle detects that it’s losing traction, such as when traveling in the rain for example.
Off-roading comes with many inevitabilities, and rough weather is certainly one of them, so Jeep doesn’t leave any stone unturned with the Grand Cherokee 4xe. Features like the Quadra-Trac 4×4 system are found in most gasoline-powered off-roaders that Jeep produces. The main difference here, of course, is that the Grand Cherokee 4xe is electric.
Yes, It Works
It’s rather remarkable, but at this point, surprises aren’t always guaranteed in the automotive industry. This is because advancements can only be made so regularly. Still, electric vehicles and hybrids have rekindled a resurgence of sorts, and now we’re seeing all of the vehicles that we’ve grown to love taking a swing at electric powertrains––it’s rather refreshing if I’m being honest.
Jeep is one of those manufacturers that people should never doubt when it comes to innovation, and Jeep enthusiasts will all agree that there’s nothing like owning a Jeep. If there’s anything that I enjoy seeing, it’s manufacturers giving their fans what they want. Not only taking care of its older crowd that will always drive traditional gasoline-powered vehicles but welcoming a new group of drivers to a vehicle that has sold so well in the past. Simply put, off-roading with an electric powertrain is not only possible––it’s even enjoyable.