Jeep's Grand Cherokee 4xe headlines the fifth generation range and blends PHEV tech with a famous badge. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
The Jeep line-up wouldn't be complete without the Grand Cherokee. And in this day and age, the Grand Cherokee line-up wouldn't be complete without plug-in hybrid power. This fifth generation model headlines with that. And offers a refreshingly different confection compared to the usual premium brands in the large SUV segment.
Since 1992, the Jeep range has had the Grand Cherokee luxury SUV as its European flagship. The US market has the even larger Wagoneer model but on our continent, the Grand Cherokee, here in its fifth generation, remains at the summit of Jeep brand ownership.
Lots is different this time round, some of it not currently destined for our market (the long wheelbase 7-seat version for instance). But we do get this model line's first plug-in hybrid powerplant: indeed, initial UK sales are leading with that '4xe' PHEV variant. This MK5 Grand Cherokee still looks like a Jeep - and we're told that it will still drive like a Jeep too. If you want your large luxury SUV to really be able to walk the walk as well as talk the talk when the going gets sticky, you're going to want to take a closer look.
The key Grand Cherokee engine for Europe is the 4xe PHEV plug-in powertrain. It mates a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a 17kWh battery pack and an e-motor situated between the engine and the gearbox. This set-up gives the Grand Cherokee a fully mechanical all-wheel drive system (just like a Land Rover Defender P400e), rather than the nominal electronic four-wheel-drive systems offered by other less capable PHEV large SUV premium rivals. The 4xe model's plug-in hybrid powertrain puts out 380hp and 637Nm of torque. It can deliver up to 31 miles of electric range and offers three drive modes - 'hybrid', 'electric' and 'e-save'.
Jeep says that this MK5 Grand Cherokee has been designed to offer 'unparalleled' off-road capabilities and luxury driving dynamics. The Quadra-Drive II 4x4 drive system and the Quadra-Lift air suspension both aim to deliver that. Plus there's the Selec-Terrain traction management system - offering a choice from five driving modes: 'Auto', 'Snow', 'Sand/Mud', 'Rock' and 'Sport'. It should all ensure that the Grand Cherokee retains the Jeep brand's legendary 4x4 capabilities. Certainly, if you want to attempt any kind of off road traversing in a model of this sort, this would be a better choice than anything in the class bar a Land Rover product, thanks to its better traction and body clearance from the ground.
Design and Build
You'd instantly know this as a Jeep. Yes the classic 7-slot front grille is now shallower and flanked by smarter slim LED headlights, but the front end of this fifth generation Grand Cherokee could still only belong to one brand. The boxy profile with its chunky detailing is familiar too, the model name still spelt out on the lower door panels with the US flag alongside. Our market only gets the 4,910mm standard length version; for the time being at least, we won't see the 7-seat long wheelbase 5,204mm-long Grand Cherokee L model that you can have in the US.
And inside? Well it's all rather plush and high-tech, with up to three 10.1-inch digital displays, one of which can be dedicated to the front seat passenger: plus a 10-inch head-up display. The central infotainment monitor runs the fastest version of the Stellantis Group's Uconnect infotainment system. And the frameless similarly-sized display for the instruments is clear and smart. There's lots of lovely stitched leather, night vision is optional and you can have an excellent 19-speaker audio system from US specialist McIntosh. Heated and cooled seats are available both in the front - and in the back, where leg and headroom are generous. You can get Amazon's Fire service on board to stream movies for passengers. And there's a huge boot out back.
Market and Model
Jeep is starting UK sales of this fifth generation Grand Cherokee with four versions of the 4xe model, badged 'Limited', 'Trailhawk', 'Overland' and 'Summit Reserve'. Prices sit in the £70,000-£85,000 bracket. But you get a lot of kit for that. Even the base 'Limited' model sits on 20-inch wheels, features full LED exterior lighting and has premium vinyl perforated seats with front and rear ventilation and a 10.25-inch digital TFT cluster, plus a 10.1-inch Uconnect infotainment screen. 'Overland' spec adds a dual pane panoramic sunroof, multi-colour ambient interior lights and premium Nappa leather seats.
The 'Trailhawk' version is for off roaders, getting 18-inch wheels with All Terrain tyres, the basis for the Quadra-drive II system, plus there's an Electronic limited slip rear differential axle, a front disconnect anti-roll bar, three skid plates and Jeep's Offroad accessory kit. The interior gets vinyl and suede seats with blue stitching, ventilated in the front.
Top of the line-up is 'Summit Reserve'-spec, which comes with 21-inch polished wheels and includes Palermo leather seats and door trim, real walnut wood accents, a 19-speaker 950-watt McIntosh Sound system and a 10-inch interactive passenger display screen.
Cost of Ownership
We gave you this PHEV model's all-electric driving range capability in our 'Driving' section- around 31 miles. Whether this plug-in hybrid 4xe variant will make economic sense for you will of course depend on how much you keep it plugged in. If you don't, you'll merely be driving around in a pretty heavy petrol-powered Grand Cherokee - and there's nothing very frugal or efficient about that. But use the battery to its fullest and the WLTP figures suggest that, with the entire driving range regularly maximised, official fuel economy will be diesel-like. The combined driving range is up to 435 miles.
Early customers will have access to an offer which includes a wallbox for efficient home charging, four years of 'Jeep Wave' servicing and roadside assistance. Like other Jeep models, this one comes with a dedicated Jeep Customer Care service where a team of expertly trained agents will be available 24/7 to answer any questions about your journey.
Jeep may have multi-national ownership these days but there's still very much an American feel to this Grand Cherokee in fifth generation form. And we're pleased that this model's key selling point over lifestyle-orientated large SUV rivals - proper off road capability - hasn't been watered down here.
We're not surprised that the big conventional V6 and V8 petrol engines you can have in the US aren't to be offered here, but we are disappointed that, for the time being at least, the 7-seat long wheelbase version of this model isn't going to be available in the UK. That format isn't really compatible with the PHEV '4xe' drivetrain that may bring new customers to the Jeep brand. What they'll find here is a refreshingly different option to the class norm. A new area large SUV. But still a real Jeep.