Limited Benefits of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe PHEV

Jenita Betsy
Sep 20, 2022

Although the first plug-in hybrid Grand Cherokee uses less fuel, the powertrain is less than ideal.

Jeep unveiled its 4xe hybrid powertrain in the Wrangler last year. Although Jeep won't release the model's sales figures, it asserts that the Wrangler 4xe was the most popular plug-in hybrid in 2021. That would suggest that more than 13% of the more than 204,000 Wranglers sold last year were PHEVs, besting PHEVs like the Toyota RAV4 Prime (27,000 units) and Prius Prime (25,000).

Given that response, giving the Grand Cherokee, the brand's best-selling vehicle, the 4xe treatment must have looked like a no-brainer. However, for Grand Cherokee purchasers, the choice to upgrade to the plug-in hybrid is not as straightforward.

The Grand Cherokee 4xe has the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain as the Wrangler and is only available in the two-row model. A belt-driven 44-hp motor and a second 134-hp electric motor, which takes the place of the torque converter in the eight-speed automatic transmission, help a 270-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine with 295 pound-feet of torque.

470 lb-ft of torque and 375 horsepower are produced collectively. These numbers surpass the 5.7-liter V-8's 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, but only when the 14.0-kWh lithium-ion battery (C/D-estimated useable capacity) is supplying enough power.

We observed this powertrain's jerky changes between gas and electric propulsion in the Wrangler, but they were partially obscured by the vehicle's overall loudness and numb, hazy chassis. The powertrain's slowness and abrupt shifts shine out in the significantly more refined Grand Cherokee. When you press the accelerator flat, there is a noticeable delay before any movement occurs.

Additionally, we were unable to significantly extend the EV range while using the vehicle in hybrid mode. However, we were able to partially recharge the battery while operating the vehicle in the gas-only eSave mode.

We discovered the gas engine to be constantly anxious to take over—it isn't completely defeatable in any of the three drivetrain modes. Full throttle naturally starts the engine, although softer driving can also do it. The four-cylinder awoke during our otherwise silent journey in Austin, Texas, as our speed fell from approximately 33 to 26 mph while we were ascending a grade in Electric mode.

Jeep claims the Grand Cherokee 4xe weighs around 500 pounds more than V-8 vehicles, but the powerful turbo four-cylinder has ample torque to get things along.

The EV range of this Grand Cherokee is reportedly 26 miles. The Grand Cherokee 4xe could theoretically be driven like an electric vehicle if your commute is around 10 miles one way, you never floor the accelerator, you pack your own lunch, and you put the 4xe into a Level 2 charger at night. However, the 4xe's battery-powered driving capacity would be most useful for making a stealthy getaway from the parents' house on a school night or silently making it to the restrooms at the other end of a campsite.

In almost all situations, driving in hybrid mode makes the most sense, and to fully enjoy the fuel-saving capabilities of this engine, at-home charging will need to be careful. (Jeep claims that it takes two to three hours to recharge the battery using a 240-volt source.) The Wrangler gets 49 MPGe, although the EPA estimates 56 MPGe for the combined rating (although the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe we tested with this powertrain returned just 16 MPGe). The Grand Cherokee 4xe earns an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined once the battery runs out, which is only 1 mpg greater than all-wheel-drive V-6 vehicles.

Due to their higher fuel-economy ratings and longer EV range, competing plug-in-hybrid SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are better at becoming PHEVs. For instance, the Santa Fe offers 76 MPGe, or 33 mpg, and has a 31-mile electric range. These numbers are 79 MPGe, 34 mpg, and 32 miles for the Sorento. However, the more powerful Grand Cherokee 4xe is a superior SUV, with a 6000-pound towing capability that is second only to the 7716-pound limit of the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid among PHEVs. And its advantage over more fuel-efficient crossovers off-road is as just as Hells Gate in Moab.

Starting at $57,660, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is around $15,500 more expensive than the four-wheel-drive V-6 Laredo basic model and comes with more standard features. The 4xe includes heated front and back seats, heated steering wheel, 18-inch alloys, a 10.1-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a dual-pane sunroof. The 4xe powertrain is furthermore offered in the Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, and Summit Reserve grades. The price premium above the four-wheel-drive versions of those trims runs from $8250 to $9915, although the 4xe's $7500 federal tax credit can help to offset much of this cost. The Grand Cherokee 4xe's highest price in Summit Reserve configuration is $76,490.

The plug-in hybrid's jagged edges start to grate at those exorbitant pricing and given the Grand Cherokee's overall elegance. The Grand Cherokee 4xe doesn't seem to provide enough return for the additional money and effort, given its limited EV capabilities and relatively little fuel-economy improvement over a V-6 or V-8 vehicle.

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