Even with the tax credits, we are not totally convinced.
For the first time in its 30-year history, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is available as a hybrid. Following the sales success of the Wrangler 4xe, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe becomes the second plug-in hybrid model to join the American automaker's lineup. It shares the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the Wrangler, producing the same 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft on its own. It adds two electric motors, combining with the gas engine to deliver 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque (the most of any current Grand Cherokee model).
After spending a week with the 4xe, we aren't so sure that the flagship Grand Cherokee is worth its hefty price premium. In fact, we noted a few issues that would make us prefer the standard V6 and Hemi V8 trims instead.
We wanted to begin by saying that we adore the fifth-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. This is by far the nicest interior we've seen from the nameplate, and we wouldn't hesitate to call it a luxury vehicle in its upper trim levels. Our Overland tester was not the top trim, but it came decked-out with Nappa leather massage seats, a panoramic roof, air suspension, and tons of screens including the best rear entertainment system we've ever tested. These are the same luxuries you'd expect to find in a well-equipped BMW or Range Rover.
Of course, nothing we've mentioned is specific to the 4xe, so if you wanted a Grand Cherokee with the V6 or V8, all of these features would still be available.
The 4xe packs a 17 kWh battery, which only enables a 26-mile electric driving range. That's completely fine if you live within 13 miles of work or can charge up at your office. Otherwise, you'll be quickly emptying the battery and running on gasoline. In our testing, we found Jeep's 26-mile estimate a bit optimistic, meaning we heavily relied on the gasoline engine for most of the week. In fact, we failed to meet the EPA's 23 mpg rating (which is only 1 mpg better than the V6), averaging only 19 mpg through mixed driving.
Since the battery is small, it doesn't take an eternity to recharge. Jeep reckons it will take around six hours on a household 110-volt outlet or two-three hours on a 240-volt. Again, the 4xe failed to live up to these expectations, with the trip computer estimating a 12-hour charge on a 110-volt and around five hours on a 240-volt. Jeep oddly includes a feature that lets you charge at a faster (or slower) rate from one to five, and whoever reviewed the vehicle before us had it set to level two. Once we set it to five, the charge times were closer but not quite on par with Jeep's estimates.
We've established that when it runs on gasoline power, the 4xe is no more efficient than its V6 sibling in the real world. It is more powerful though. The Pentastar V6 only produces 293 hp and even the mighty Hemi V8 fails to match the 4xe with only 357 hp. Basically, you can think of the 4xe as a performance variant, not necessarily a fuel saving option. That being said, we'd still prefer the V8 model. Unless you put it into sport mode, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine takes forever to light up when you quickly mash the throttle.
When it does get moving, the noise it makes feels so out of place in what is otherwise a relaxing, luxurious cabin. The engine makes some rather inelegant noises that don't match the rest of the driving experience. Even in EV mode, we didn't love how much you can feel the eight-speed automatic in the background. Instant, one-gear acceleration is one of the most enjoyable elements of driving an EV, but the 4xe takes away that smooth, effortless acceleration. And with only around 174 hp in EV mode, the 4xe isn't exactly quick without its engine helping out. All of these complaints were present in the Wrangler 4xe, but masked by that vehicles other imperfections. Since the Grand Cherokee is so much more refined, the issues were more noticeable.
Perhaps the most egregious reason why we wouldn't buy the Grand Cherokee 4xe is the price. Depending on the trim level, the plug-in hybrid drivetrain is anywhere from $8,000 to $11,000 more than the equivalent V6 model with four-wheel-drive. Compare that to the V8, which is only a $3,795 option, and the 4xe doesn't look like a tremendous value on paper. Of course, the 4xe qualifies for a $7,500 tax credit that softens the blow on that price premium, but not every buyer will qualify for the same amount and you still need to be able to afford the monthly payment on a vehicle with a significantly higher price tag. Our Overland tester as-equipped rang in at a whopping $75,000. For that price, you could cross-shop it with the BMW X5 PHEV and the Volvo XC90 Recharge.
Simply based on the MSRP, we'd stick with the gas-powered model. However, like the Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee 4xe leases well thanks to that federal tax credit. A Jeep spokesperson told CarBuzz, "the 4xe payment is roughly a $10 to $30 per month savings (when leases terms and rates are equalized)." That means it may actually be cheaper to lease a 4xe over a less powerful V6 model. In that case, why not get the more powerful option?