The first electrified Jeep Grand Cherokee has arrived. To make an impression, we must point out. Now, the SUV may not be all electric but a full battery charge can take you up to 26 miles before the gas engine kicks in. And that is a promising start.
Our Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) was equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged engine doling out 375 horsepower @ 5250 rpm and 470 pounds-feet of torque @ 3000 rpm. And that includes energy generated by two motors from the 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. Getting power to the ground is a slick-shifting 7-speed auto gear box. A multilink suspension made up of coil springs, twin-tube coil over shock absorbers and all-aluminum arms and knuckles keeps the Jeep secure, regardless of road and weather conditions. Conveying a direct and communicative feel to the driver is an electric rack-and-pinion steering. When you need to stop, 13.9-inch vented front and 13.7-inch rear discs, equipped with two- and single-piston calipers, come into play. Tow capacity is a cool 6,000 pounds.
Apart from the always-active Quadra-Trac 4-wheel-drive, dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, driver knee airbag, electronic stability control, blind-spot monitor, rearview camera, remote keyless entry, collision warning with active braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system come at no extra cost.
Up front, you will notice an aggressive headfirst posture with LED reflector headlights flanking a wider, larger seven-slot floating bright chrome grille. Also conspicuous are active grille shutters, front wheel spats, air curtains and hood aero flick. A redesigned center stack and fresh but slimmer air vents greet one while taking a seat in the top-notch and tailored cabin. Jeep has boosted the space with total passenger volume now at 144.6 cubic feet (4.1 increase) and 37.7 cubic feet (up 1.4) behind the second-row seat. A luxury tech package ($2,155) in our test drive translates into eye-catching stitched Nappa leather seats, 12-way power front seats with back massager, 4-zone auto a/c, manual second-row window shades, etc. Two 10.2-inch screens, a digital gauge cluster and an interactive touchscreen display for the front passenger, appear classy.
Boasting a 450-mile range, the fifth-gen Grand Cherokee is unlike the gas-guzzling Jeeps of the past. With gas prices still over $3, the eco-friendly SUV is an attractive proposition for folks who like to cruise the highway or go off the beaten path. It displays abundant power, substantial passenger/cargo capacity and an appealing interior bar none. Undisputedly, this is a huge win for the iconic brand.
GRAND CHEROKEE 4xe
Wheelbase: 116.7 inches
Length: 193.5 inches
Width: 77.5 inches
Height: 70.8 inches
Weight: 5,368 pounds
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
City/Hwy: 56 MPGe (gas + electric)
Base price: $65,760
Price as tested: $75,035
Web site: www.jeep.com