PORT HOPE, ONTARIO – The Jeep Grand Cherokee has always been an oddball as it pertains to competitors. It’s larger than the conventional mid-sized crossover, boasts actual capability, and can be had with premium materials to rival luxury products. The outgoing “WK” model goes back an entire decade, and was still competitive right up until this latest “WL” model replaced it. We were invited to Port Hope to test drive the redesigned 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Jeep has four new offerings that are somewhat related. The Grand Cherokee tested here, and the three-row Grand Cherokee L sits right above it. On the premium end of the spectrum, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer cater to a slightly more upscale demographic. While being the “entry” point into the lineup, the regular Grand Cherokee is far from an entry-level model.
The fifth-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee still offers a unibody layout, which helps significantly with refinement. While body-on-frame models like the GMC Yukon have come a long way, they still are very obviously trucks, and the Grand Cherokee’s sublime ride quality is one of its strong suits. The platform is all-new, and this model sits on a 116.7-inch wheelbase for its two-row five-passenger layout. The three-row Grand Cherokee L has a five-inch longer wheelbase to accommodate the third row.
Base models get the tried-and-true 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V6, with 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is the optional powertrain and from our experience with it, it’s the one to go for. It now offers 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft. of torque, and both engines are mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is buttery smooth, though the V6 is definitely a bit on the anemic side. It’ll work for most buyers, but the optimal Grand Cherokee experience is still the creamy smooth V8.
A plug-in hybrid model will be available in early 2022, with two electric drive motors, 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque out of a turbo four-cylinder. This Grand Cherokee 4xe will be able to tow 6,000 pounds as well, while remaining as efficient as possible. On that note, towing capacity is 6,200 pounds for the gasoline V6 model, and 7,200 pounds for the V8 model.
Body control is excellent, the new Jeep has phenomenal damping and body control is top notch regardless of the situation. Four wheel drive is standard in Canada, and three four-wheel drive systems are available; Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II. Quadra-Trac I is a single-speed transfer case (Laredo and Limited models), and Quadra-Trac II is a two-speed transfer case available on the Overland. Quadra-Drive II takes the two-speed case and adds an electronic limited-slip differential. All three systems offer a front-axle disconnect if four-wheel-drive is not needed.
The cabin of the Grand Cherokee has been completely reworked, with stunning materials, open-pore woods, and luscious leather offerings (with optional quilted Palermo leather). Uconnect 5 infotainment is on board with an 8.4-inch touchscreen on lower trim models, and an optional 10.1-inch unit. There’s also an available 10.25-inch screen in front of the front passenger which can display Amazon Fire TV. We like the physical buttons to access frequently used functions, an obvious touch that many manufacturers have omitted in favour of minimalistic design
Up front, passenger space is more than plentiful. The Grand Cherokee is spacious enough to compete with the two-row models of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and feels less cramped than the Porsche Cayenne. Yes, these are some big names to go up against, but in many ways, the Jeep does – space is one of them. Rear head and legroom is more than plentiful as well, and those who don’t need a third row will find more than ample space on board. Cargo capacity is a generous 1,076 liters, which grows even more when the rear seats are folded.
Safety features including Active Lane Management, Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring and more are standard. Night Vision is available, along with a heads-up display and an off-road camera. The real conversation piece among the tech on board is the McIntosh 19-speaker stereo with a 17-channel 950-watt amplifier. It sounds simply brilliant, and is one of the best automotive audio applications we have heard to date.
Canadian pricing for the 2022 Grand Cherokee starts at $51,545 for the base Laredo. Other trims include the Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, and Summit, with varying packages and options available on each one. The top-trim Summit starts at $73,545 and the Summit Reserve sits at $78,040. The two “Trail Rated” models are the Overland with the Off-Road Group and the Trailhawk. Key features like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED lighting all around, and more are all standard across the board.
Jeep considers its main competition the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot. We don’t really see too much cross-shopping with the latter two, but the Toyota 4Runner remains a key rival. While it offers plenty of capability and resale value, the 4Runner is now extremely dated and in dire need of a redesign. Premium offerings like the Lincoln Aviator and Cadillac XT6 are also worthy rivals, and we’d have the Grand Cherokee over both.
However you look at it, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a truly wonderful vehicle. We’re not likely to see a 700-horsepower Trackhawk variant this time around, but there’s enough versatility model across the lineup for most buyers. It delivers the capability Canadians want, a premium look and feel to rival the German offerings, and a longstanding reputation for reliability. The new WL Grand Cherokee is one of our top picks of the year, and one we’re excited to see populate North American roads.