Moab was once a sleepy western mining town. Today, it’s an increasingly-popular destination in an ever-growing region known for three things: its dramatic scenery beset by red-rock canyons, buttes and mesas, with stretches of wide-open backcountry and nearby national parks; for the hundreds of miles of off-road trails in the surrounding locale; and for the annual Moab Jeep Safari aka Easter Jeep Safari. Of note: not so long ago, four wheeling was sometimes called “jeeping” and many off-road vehicles of many different types were affectionately called “jeeps”, hence the name of this renowned event.
Several trims and configurations are available.Jeep/Stellantis
It’s no surprise that Jeep, now a brand of Stellantis, has used this area with the ‘Jeep moniker’ for a number of new vehicle introductions; after all, this event turns this small town in eastern Utah into something akin to a spring-break beach party with festivities and fanfare for thousands of 4WD enthusiasts, automotive aftermarket companies and vehicle manufacturers. Jeep recently brought a posse of automotive evaluators to Moab in a quieter season to test out its all-new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was an ideal location to sample some offerings in the updated lineup, motoring on two-lane paved roadways, along dirt tracks and over a technical stretch of 4WD trail with somewhat extreme rock climbs and sidehill slopes.
Spawned from the smaller Jeep Cherokee, the original “Grand” made its debut in 1992 at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit, as a ’93 model slotting into the luxury SUV segment with a unibody chassis, when many other sport utility purveyors used body-on-frame construction. The first-generation Grand Cherokee came in three trims with one powertrain–a 4.0 liter engine that made 190 horsepower that was shifted by a 4-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission, and was available in either rear-wheel drive (RWD/2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).
Top trims get luxurious finishes and materials inside. Jeep/Stellantis
Like Moab, the Grand Cherokee has grown up, changed in significant ways and appeals to an ever-growing audience. The fifth-generation version is Jeep’s global flagship and is not only more technologically-advanced with new styling inside and out, but also sports an all-new architecture, has more 4 x 4 capability, and is more luxury-laden than ever. Plus, there is a new electrified version, a new Trailhawk edition, 2 x 4 and 4 x 4 versions and three 4WD systems – Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II with some cutting edge-4WD technology. It’s powered by a choice of two engines: an all-aluminum 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is rated at 293 horsepower with 260 lb.-ft. of torque (assisted by an eTorque mild hybrid system), while a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 produces 357 /390; both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. (Overand and Summit versions powered by the V8 are offered with Jeep’s multiple displacement system). Gas-powered Grand Cherokees deliver fuel economy in a range between 17–21/14–19/22–26 mpg, depending on engine and drivetrain. The V-6 engine is rated for a towing capacity of up to 6,200 lbs. and an estimated class-leading driving range of more than 500 miles, while the V8 can tow up to 7,200 lbs.
The two-row 2022 Grand Cherokee comes in Laredo, Altitude, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve trims. It starts at $37,785 and is on sale now. The three-row Grand Cherokee L went on sale in June 2021with a wheelbase that is 6.9 in. longer than the previous generation two-row model, and 5 in. longer than the newest two-row counterpart; it is available in four trims: Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit. Available are eight-wheel options, with up to 21-inch diameter wheels offered for the first time.
The new 4xe propulsion system can be ordered on Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve model. It combines two electric motors, a 400-volt battery pack, a 2.0-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and gets the eight-speed automatic transmission. Overall, the 4xe system delivers 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. Jeeps says the Grand Cherokee 4xe will get an estimated 25 miles (40 km) of all-electric range, returns approximately 57 MPGe and has a projected total range of more than 440 miles. It will go on sale in the spring of 2022.
The 2022 Grand Cherokee gets Stellantis’ latest Uconnect 5 infotainment software. Jeep/Stellantis
Looking at the newest models, you’ll notice more aerodynamic and sculpted styling with a greater amount of glass. While there is some differentiation between trims, all get an upgraded posher look. The front fascia has been redesigned and the seven-slot grille reworked while the roofline and beltline are lowered and tapered.
Inside is a greater level of high-end craftmanship and added upscale materials and features. Top-of-the-line Summit Reserve gets a Palermo leather interior and a 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, with 19 custom-designed speakers (including a 10-inch subwoofer), 950-watts of power and a 17-channel amplifier, for example. Available 16-way adjustable front seats have power lumbar and memory, while higher specification versions offer new front driver and passenger seatback massage; heated/vented seats are available for first two rows, with three-level configurable controls. The center console has updated switches and added storage in the front bin that can accommodate two wireless devices and a wireless charger. Standard on all trims is an all-new premium, full-suite of customizable LED lighting with daytime/night-time settings; ambient lighting with a five-color selection is available on Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve models.
Updates to Uconnect 5 bring impressive new technology, including a 10.1-inch display, five-times-faster operating speed and over-the-air updates. Segment-exclusive is a 10.25-in. front passenger interactive display and 10.1-in. rear seat entertainment display with Amazon Fire TV built-in. The new model is not only larger but has been designed with more versatility; there is 144.6 cu. ft. of interior passenger volume (4.1 cu. ft. more) and 37.7 cu. ft. of cargo space, and the rear cargo area can hold a set of golf clubs transversely.
Now onboard are more than 110 advanced safety and security features, including Active Driving Assist with hands-on automated driving, and available 360-degree surround view and night vision cameras. (See list below.)
We sampled both engines and four different trims. Our takeaways: Both engines move the Grand Cherokee well and provide ample and always-available torque for everyday driving and high-speed passing. The V8 engine has alacrity plus a potent engine sound when the throttle is pushed. We were impressed by the handling of all that show smooth driving manners, deriving from the eight-speed transmission that provides crisp gear changes and on-the-fly shift-map changes based on different driver’s styles and different terrain; as well as from the widened track and the independent front and rear suspension set-ups.
Advanced 4WD systems are available. Jeep/Stellantis
Our favorite foray was motoring the new Trailhawk on a rigorous and noted off-road trail with rock shelf and rugged,uneven terrain. All three 4WD systems (Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II) have a rear electronic limited slip-differential (eLSD) and are equipped with an active transfer case to improve traction by transferring torque to the wheel with the most grip; and, depending on trim, have Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system with five different terrain modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud/Sand). The Trailhawk goes a tall step beyond: standard are all-terrain tires; integrated off-road camera; Quadra-Lift air suspension with up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance; improved approach, departure and breakover angles and the Quadra-Drive II active transfer case. We disengaged the class-exclusive sway bar disconnect that gave us improved articulation and traction over the roughest terrain and used Selec-Speed Control that manages vehicle speed in 4LO by automatically applying engine torque and/or brake pressure to maintain a consistent and safe speed without requiring the driver to control the throttle or the brake. Of note, the speed can be regulated by the driver.
Trailhawk is also differentiated by high-strength steel skid plates; red tow hooks; 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires; a glare-proof black-and-red matte “Trailhawk” hood decal (also on the Trailhawk 4xe). Jeep says this “Trail Rated, nature approved” model has class-leading traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and increased water fording capability of up to 24 inches.
The Grand Cherokee makes an excellent road trip companion.Jeep/Stellantis
*Standard safety features across the line-up include: • Full-Speed Collision Warning with Active Braking and Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection • Rear Cross Path detection • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go • Active Lane Management • LaneSense Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist • Advanced Brake Assist • Blind-spot Monitoring • ParkView rear back-up camera • ParkSense rear park assist sensors with stop • Switch-activated electric park brake • Tire-pressure monitoring Additional available safety features include: • New Night Vision Camera with pedestrian and animal detection • New Intersection Collision Assist • New Drowsy Driver Detection system • Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist and new Traffic Sign Recognition • New 360-degree surround view camera system with front and rear washers New Active Driving Assist (L2) hands-on-wheel and eyes-on-road automated driving is also available.
*Notable Connectivity Features: Two Bluetooth-enabled phones can be paired simultaneously • Enhanced Amazon Alexa virtual assistant functionality • All-new Uconnect mobile app • SiriusXM 360L platform with personalized stations powered by Pandora • Tom-Tom navigation with predictive search, natural speech and live traffic updates • Maps over-the-air updates • 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot to connect up to eight devices. Available Fire TV allows passengers to stream videos, play games, listen to music, get information, and watch downloaded content. In-vehicle 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and the ability to watch downloaded Prime Video content without connectivity while on the road with 16 GB of included built-in storage for each rear display (9 GB of user available storage per rear display).