4 by How Far? Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Electric Range Tested Off-Road

How does the plug-in Jeep handle tough trails in electric mode?

By Evan Williams Wheels.ca

Aug 25, 2023 5 min. read

Article was updated a month ago

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The government says that a 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe can drive 42 kilometers before you run out of battery and the gas engine needs to kick on. But that's on paved roads. We wanted to know how far the 4xe could go off-road before you needed to break the silence of nature and fire up the four-cylinder.

Jeep's 4xe system puts its electric motor in front of the transmission, and that gives it features other plug-ins don't have. Like low range gearing for rock crawling and even more multiplication of the electric motor's torque. Even before multiplication, the 4xe's electric motor makes 195 lb-ft of torque. Nearly as much as the original Grand Cherokee's iconic 4.0L six could manage. With the 2.0L gas engine running, the figure leaps to 470 lb-ft. Include the crawl ratio and you're suddenly dealing with more than 22,000 lb-ft of torque at the road's surface.

The first part of the test was to find out how far the Grand Cherokee 4xe could go on its 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. I set out on some rural back roads with a full charge and planned to drive until the engine turned itself on. In electric mode, the Jeep stays on EV power unless you fully floor the accelerator pedal for a second or two. That gives you extra power when you need it, but it also makes it easy to drive normally (and even briskly) and keep the gas engine off.

Jeep grand cherokee 4xe

53 minutes and 41 seconds later, the Jeep Grand Cherokee's computer said "that's enough" and fired up the gas engine. I had driven 49.1 km, a useful distance beyond the 42 km official rating. That was with the air conditioning and ventilated seats running, not some extreme self-suffering mileage run.

After a few hours of charging (about two and a half on L2), it was time to head for some forest roads and rocky trails to test out the 4xe's off-road range.

I wasn't expecting anything close to the 49 km I managed on pavement. Off-road driving, especially when you're using 4x4 and not two-wheel drive or even Jeep's automatic 4x4 mode, uses more fuel. In an average gas pickup or SUV, I'd expect to get half the fuel economy I would on the road or worse. Numbers in the 20s or 30s for L/100 km are common.

Jeep grand cherokee 4xe

To make things a real challenge for the Grand Cherokee 4xe, I didn't just use Rock mode, which forces the engagement of the front axle (Jeep normally disconnects it when not needed). I put the Grand Cherokee into 4Lo for the entirety of my drive and had the air suspension in either max-height Off Road 2 or Off Road 1 settings.

The trail I picked was a mix of off-road conditions. There were stretches of higher-speed driving and stretches where I was crawling at a snail's pace over rocks and other obstacles. There were steep hills in both directions, with the Jeep's on-board off-road dials showing me a steepest grade of 30 percent.

There was no hard-core rock crawling or terrain that required bouncing the Jeep over obstacles. This is a $90,000 Grand Cherokee, not a Wrangler Rubicon. It's aimed at a different audience, so I tried to off-road accordingly.

In electric mode, the 4xe couldn't crawl up those steep hills throttle-free like I would have expected in a 4Lo Wrangler Rubicon, but it was able to drive up them with very little pedal movement. The electric motor and off-road throttle response also gave me excellent control, avoiding tire spin in the loose sand and gravel I was climbing.

Jeep grand cherokee 4xe off road


The Grand Cherokee 4xe didn't deliver the near-silent off-road experience I was hoping for, but that's not Jeep's fault. Jeep's choice of pedestrian alert sound is particularly irritating, though it does stop as soon as you reach 30 km/h, but an audible noise is a legal requirement. It scares the birds, but that's better than hitting a pedestrian who can't hear you coming.

What the Jeep did deliver was 16.7 km of comfortable and smooth all-electric off-roading before the gas engine fired up. That's starting from a 95 percent charge, not 100, as it was the highest level the Jeep would maintain in e-save mode and the trailhead wasn't at the end of my driveway. Tack another km onto the figure if you want to be picky.

That might sound short, but it was two hours of driving plus the time I spent with the AC on while taking photos and basking in the peacefulness of the woods. It was enough distance to get to my favourite hidden swimming hole (and back). And as loads of rock crawlers know, it can be easy to spend an entire afternoon on the trail and only cover 5 klicks. It all depends on what you're doing with your off-roader.

Jeep grand cherokee 4xe

Is 40 percent of the estimated electric range really ok for off-road driving? Thanks to a washed-out bridge I had to repeat the whole trip on gas power, where I saw an indicated 21.9 L/100 km or a bit more than double the fuel I was using on pavement in hybrid mode. So I'd call that a yes.

Of course, the point of a PHEV like the 4xe isn't to save your power for the trail, it's to use less fuel everyday. Thanks to that 45 km range figure I saw, the Grand Cherokee 4xe was able to do all of my week's driving on electric power. I used gas only when I chose to fully test the vehicle, and when this off-road excursion went further than expected. Which was exactly when I needed it.

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe

BODY STYLE: 5 door, 5-passenger mid-size SUV

CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, four-wheel drive

ENGINES: 2.0-L turbocharged 4-cylinder + electric motor and 17kWh battery: Combined power: 375 hp; Torque: 470 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic

CARGO CAPACITY: 1067-2005 litres

FUEL ECONOMY: 4.2 Le/100 km combined; gas-only: 10.0L/100 km

PRICE: $75,190 (base, including destination); $93,660 (as-tested. Overland trim, $81,995, Velvet Red Pearl $395, Luxury Tech Group IV $2,195, Advanced ProTechGroup III $3,295, Off-Road Group II $1,095, Black Roof, $995, Front Passenger Interactive Display $1,595)


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