In general, I am on record as liking the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s one of the vehicles that I would consider buying with my own money.
I am not sure that same consideration extends to the electrified version. The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4XE costs a pretty penny, especially when you opt for the off-road-oriented Trailhawk trim, and while I like the concept of plug-in hybrids in general, this one might not be worth the dough.
My beef here is that a vehicle that costs this much should be smooth – but just like on the first-drive event I attended for this trucklet, the hybrid transitions were just a tad too janky.
That’s too bad, because 25 miles of EV-only range is nice, though not a huge amount. The theory of plugging is just fine, but the execution here isn’t as seamless as it is in the Wrangler 4XE. And it’s not entirely seamless there, either.
One cool thing is that the hybrid system allows you a lot of control – you can set to hybrid mode, or set it to run EV until the battery drains (or you need the gas engine to assist, such as with passing), or tell it to save the battery charge for later. It’s nice to have this level of control in a hybrid.
The battery is a 400-volt, 17 kWh unit. The max charging rate is 7.2 kWh on Level 2. The charge time should be around 12-14 hours on Level 1 and 2-3 hours on Level 2. Giving credit where it’s due, Cars.com has a long-termer that’s seen similar numbers. I didn’t charge, since the charging situation in my building tends to make it difficult.
I also felt let down by steering that was a tad too distant and artificial in feel. Usually steering feel is a Jeep strong suit, and that’s the case in the gas JGCs I’ve driven, but for whatever reason my tester didn’t feel as dialed in.
I was also hoping for better acceleration from this powertrain, which combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a belt-driven generator motor and a transmission traction motor for a total output of 375 lb-ft of torque and 470 horsepower.
It’s not slow, to be fair, with enough thrust for urban driving, but I’d love a bit more responsiveness and some more passing punch.
It’s unfortunate that I felt letdown enough to lead this review with the negatives, because there’s still a lot to like about the Grand Cherokee. The interior remains a strong suit, with a well-integrated infotainment screen and the right mix of traditional buttons/knobs and screens. It’s comfortable, too, though I struggled a little to get a great seating position.
I had no chance to go off-road, but I’ve driven the Trailhawk trim previously, and found it to be capable enough. It’s no Wrangler Rubicon, but it can do certain types of wheelin’ well. Off-road goodies include Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II four-wheel drive system, an electronic limited-slip differential rear axle, a disconnecting front stabilizer bar, an off-road camera, a traction management system, an air suspension, semi-active damping, and a speed control system. Ground clearance is a max of 10.9 inches.
The price of entry here is 65 grand, and other features that come standard include a trailer-tow package, front passenger screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Uconnect infotainment, Wi-Fi, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, remote start, 18-inch wheels, and dual-zone climate control.
Standard safety nannies include full-speed forward-collision warning plus, adaptive cruise control, park assist, rearview camera, blind-spot and cross-path detection, advanced brake assist, hill-start assist, rear-seat object alert, and active-lane management.
Options included a $2,235 package that added intersection-collision assist, night vision, front and rear park assist, and a 360-degree camera. For $1,445, the Luxury Tech III group was added – it included hands-free power liftgate, rain-sensitive wipers, digital rearview mirror, second-row window shades, passive entry, and a steering column that is power tilt/telescope and has memory. Finally, for $1,895 you can get a dual-pane power panoramic sunroof.
With destination, we clocked in at $72,630. Woof.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee 4XE is an example of a concept that makes a lot of sense that has execution that’s lacking. If it could just be a bit smoother in its transitions, it would be interesting as a fuel-sipper compared to the internal-combustion engine versions, though the cost makes one blanche. It’s also a bummer than one must go electric to get the Trailhawk trim now.
I have no issue with electrification, and I find the concept of a plug-in hybrid to have a strong use case, at least if you have easy access to charging. So my fault-finding with the 4XE has nothing to do with Luddite knuckle-dragging or a preference for pure internal-combustion. I simply think Jeep has a good idea here that needs a bit more baking time.
Until then, I think I will opt for the ICE Grand Cherokee, even if it means opting out of the best trim for off-roading. Most of these vehicles never leave pavement, anyway.
If Jeep can smooth out the powertrain, it will have a winner. For now, the fuel savings might not be worth it.
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