Perception is one of the biggest hurdles that any product has to climb over when it comes to being introduced to the market, especially when there are preconceived notions about the product before it even becomes available. We see it all the time with subsequent model years based on nameplates that didn’t put the best foot forward or with new trims that failed to meet expectations in prior outings. In this case, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is taking advantage of Jeep’s dive into the plug-in hybrid territory that they initiated with the 2021 Wrangler 4xe.
It’s a stark departure from the combustion-heavy brand that is known for utilizing a lot of low-end and high-end torque in their vehicles, designed mostly for enthusiast purposes, especially of the off-road nature. Now that Jeep has embraced the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle concept, better known to most people as a PHEV. We’re beginning to see them roll out power plants for some of their most popular nameplates, which includes both the Wrangler and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
However, just because something is new doesn’t mean that everyone will take to it. In fact, there are going to be people who are apprehensive about change and people who are simply not too keen on the whole plug-in concept for something like the Grand Cherokee. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who are looking forward to it and the people who are interested in the Grand Cherokee for its new 4xe power plant. However, before this new model will be in anyone’s hands, there are some hurdles that this model is going to have to navigate in order to win over the more skeptical critics and be a success.
What Is the Grand Cherokee 4xe?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what the Grand Cherokee needs to do to elevate itself above and beyond the standards that some may see as a hurdle to overcome, we first need to talk about what the Grand Cherokee 4xe is and what it’s not. As mentioned, the 4xe is classified as a PHEV, or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. That means that it runs both on a battery-powered source and on a combustion-powered source.
Specifically, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder sandwiched between two electric motors, both of which are fed by a 14-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The two electric motors (or generators) are located at different points on the powertrain block, the first is located at the accessory belt, and the second is located at the transmission’s torque converter, which can feed power directly to the Grand Cherokee’s driveline. The setup generates a total of 375 horsepower and up to 470 pound-feet of torque.
This unique setup affords the Grand Cherokee the advantageous opportunity to be powered in one of three ways. The first is the Hybrid Mode, which makes use of both the electric generators powered by the battery pack and the turbocharged 4-cylinder. The second mode of travel is the Electric Mode, where the vehicle is propelled only by the electric motor and is fed power by the battery pack. This is a zero-emissions mode, so there is no particulate matter making its way back into the atmosphere, and for those who really like the idea of driving green, this is the mode for you. The third mode is the eSave mode, which allows the Grand Cherokee to conserve its battery power and rely solely on the 4-cylinder for propulsion.
Each of these three modes opens up the Grand Cherokee to make optional use of fuel-saving properties and emissions-reducing travel. The benefit of this PHEV setup is that the Grand Cherokee can be recharged at home with an applicable charging station, and if you don’t plan on traveling far for day-to-day errands, you can save a lot at the pump by relying on the electric motors. However, if you have to travel long distances, you can bounce between the eSave or the Hybrid Modes to get the maximum distance out of the Grand Cherokee.
Obviously, with so many benefits and advantages over other vehicles, one might question what sort of challenges and hurdles the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe even needs to overcome? Well, that’s where things get interesting. So let’s get into where the hurdles come from and why they’re considered hurdles in the first place.
Overcoming the Wrangler 4xe Challenges
The most obvious hurdle for the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe to avoid is inconsistent performance. It’s no shock that there have been criticisms levied at the Wrangler hybrid power plant for inconsistent performance. One of the more popular tests of the Wrangler 4xe’s capabilities noted that it had trouble transitioning between the three available drive modes. The exact problem is that they noted hiccups in throttle access, a lack of instant propulsion when switching between modes, and jerky acceleration.
This could be a problem for people who aren’t buying a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe for off-road performance, which is where the PHEV powertrain has been noted to excel above and beyond expectations. The electric generators are quiet and give you a completely different kind of off-road experience, where you can silently creep up hills and rock crawl without noise. However, when driving on the street, a lot of potential Grand Cherokee 4xe owners probably won’t want to deal with stop-gaps in propulsion when switching modes or dealing with the jerkiness of acceleration off the line when going from eSave Mode to Electric Mode.
Part of the worry from the enthusiast community is how well the Grand Cherokee 4xe will be able to handle the transition between propulsion modes, especially since it’s a larger vehicle than the Wrangler. There are reservations about how well the 4-cylinder will be able to handle the Grand Cherokee 4xe on its own when the battery is depleted, especially if it’s towing something fairly large. However, if Jeep can iron out these creases in the transitional performance of the Grand Cherokee 4xe, it would create a huge boost for the appeal of a full-size PHEV 4×4 SUV.
Managing Fuel Economy for the 4xe
One other issue that some critics brought up with the Wrangler 4xe is managing the fuel economy. The numbers aren’t terrible or anything, but the Wrangler has never been big on fuel conservation. The Grand Cherokee is a little more forgiving given that it’s a full-size SUV, and they aren’t known for hitting EPA numbers that would make a subcompact flinch. However, the Grand Cherokee isn’t the Wrangler, and the 4xe offers an opportunity for more fuel-efficient travel out of the large SUV.
In fact, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is already boasting better numbers than the Wrangler 4xe. The official website promises a manufacturer estimate of up to 24 miles of range on the electric propulsion alone, which is quite impressive. All Jeep has to do is make sure that the Grand Cherokee hits those figures, and it would already manage to overcome the fuel economy hurdles that the Wrangler 4xe faced. With the hybrid mode enabled, you could expect even greater range from the Grand Cherokee 4xe, which would be a huge selling point for the SUV.
Long-Term Reliability for the PHEV
One issue some potential shoppers voiced as a concern is the long-term reliability of the PHEV powertrain. This is new territory for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and it’s understandable that there may be skeptics and old-school drivers reluctant to step into the future. However, if the Wrangler 4xe sales are anything to go by, becoming one of the best-selling PHEVs on the market and selling out for 2021, according to Jeep, then it means that you can expect similar results for the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe.
In fact, given the popularity of the Grand Cherokee already, it wouldn’t be surprising if it managed to move more units than the Wrangler among casual drivers who aren’t entirely interested in rock-crawling and trail trekking. The 2022 Grand Cherokee is already coming in hot off the momentum of an exciting new model year, and the added bonus of the PHEV could help propel it even further in the mind-share of those in the market for a new SUV.
All Jeep has to do is make sure that the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe lives up to the hype. If it turns out to be as reliable as its Wrangler 4xe counterpart, then it won’t be surprising to see the Grand Cherokee 4xe topping the charts. The good part is that it already looks like the Grand Cherokee PHEV may be able to overcome or avoid some of the hurdles that the Wrangler 4xe faced, and this could bode well for its future on the market.