It’ll have not escaped your notice the auto industry is rapidly moving toward electrification. Whether it’s an all-electric powertrain or one infused with electrons helping a gasoline-powered engine, it seems clear that – like it or lump it – electricity is going to be part of our vehicle fleet. Here’s the good news for gearheads: while most of them tend to sound like Paul Bunyon sharpening a knife at high speed, electrified powertrains can produce gobs of power.
Jeep has decided to brand its plug-in hybrid models with ‘4xe’ badges, a clever nod to the brand’s off-road chops while putting an exclamation point on the fact there is a stout electric motor and lithium-ion battery making up a portion of the powertrain. Combined with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine, the combo makes a heady 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. For those keeping track at home, that’s far more than the old-school Hemi V8. Since it’s a Grand Cherokee, four-wheel drive is standard equipment.
There’s no mistaking this thing for anything but a Jeep, with its forward-canted seven slot grille and handsome front fascia. Automatic LED headlights shine the way forward and there’s an appropriate amount of brightwork on exterior accents and roof rails. Those exterior mirrors can fold themselves after a tight parking job and – if you’re wondering – that’s a charging port for the plug-in hybrid system on the driver’s side front fender. The only no-charge paint options in the entry-level trim are Bright White and the curiously named Silver Zynith.
The entry-level trim is lavishly equipped with dandy features such as snazzy leather-and-suede upholstery, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front chairs, and a heated steering wheel. Dual-zone climate control keeps the troops happy. There are more screens than your nearest IMAX theatre. A 10.25-inch full colour frameless digital gauge cluster sits in front of the driver and an expansive touchscreen is mounted in the centre stack for infotainment. There’s even a touch-activated display available just for the front-seat passenger, providing entertainment options and the ability to keep tabs on navigation duties. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are part of the deal, as are numerous USB ports and a wireless charging pad.
What We'd Choose
Surprisingly, the off-road focused Trailhawk trim is priced just $400 north of the entry-level model. For those few shekels, one will find themselves in command of a Grand Cherokee 4xe packing better off-road chops thanks to the addition of an electronic limited-slip rear differential, electric disconnecting front sway bar, skid plates, and meatier tires. The inclusion of Jeep’s air suspension system should not be overlooked.
According to the build-and-price tool, you do lose the panoramic sunroof and a couple of other minor features such as interior ambient lighting when opting for the Trailhawk. Still, the $75,595 Trailhawk is an easy recommendation over the $75,195 entry-level trim (explaining it’s appearance as our lead image for this post) thanks to all that extra mechanical gear. Even if you care not one whit for off-roading, the Quadra-Lift air suspension will provide an arguably more comfortable ride on pavement.