The standard V6 works, but...
There's an all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee on sale and, for the first time in its 30-year history, there's a three-row version, the Grand Cherokee L. Jeep is expanding its lineup faster than ever to capitalize on America's love for SUVs. Whether every owner utilizes their Grand Cherokee's tremendous off-roading capabilities to their fullest is another story. CarBuzz drove the 2022 Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4 two-row recently and our expectations were high. All in all, the new GC impressed us with its refinement, solid build quality, and vastly improved interior.
Unfortunately, we didn't receive permission from the manufacturer to do any serious off-roading. That wouldn't have been possible anyway because a winter storm struck that closed down our usual off-roading spot. But no matter, we still experienced this SUV as a daily driver as Denver dug itself out.
Our chief complaint? The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. This is the so-called workhorse engine found in a long list of Stellantis brand vehicles and normally it's fine. In this application, however, it's really not. This rig needs the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8. But first, let's examine how the GC V6 stands up against some of its chief rivals in three key areas.
The V6-powered Grand Cherokee produces 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Chevy Blazer RS's 3.6-liter V6 has 308 hp and 270 lb-ft - and costs over $14k less. The aging Nissan Murano's 3.5-liter V6 has a respectable 260 hp and 240 lb-ft and it can be had for less than $35k with AWD. What about the Ford Edge? All trims are now powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 250 hp and 275 lb-ft and also have standard AWD. The base SE begins at $36k. And then there's the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento corporate cousins. For $35k, the Sorento can be had with the optional 2.5-liter turbo-four with 281 hp and 311 lb-ft. You'll have to pony up $39k for the Santa Fe Limited to get that engine. AWD is available on both.
As for the Grand Cherokee, the base Laredo starts at $38k but our Overland carried a $55,305 MSRP. For that amount, the 357 hp and 470 lb-ft V8 with 4WD ought to be standard. Buyers are instead being forced to spend an extra $3,975 for the Hemi.
The Pentastar V6's fuel economy varies by model. For the new Grand Cherokee, it received an EPA rating of 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined. We averaged about those figures.
By comparison, the GC's AWD V6-powered rivals have the following ratings: Blazer - 19/26/21 mpg, Murano - 20/28/23 mpg, Edge - 21/28/23 mpg, Santa Fe Limited - 21/28/24 mpg. Interestingly, the Sorento differs slightly at 22/27/24 mpg.
The Grand Cherokee V6's EPA figures are nothing to write home about, but they're competitive enough when stacked against the competition. But, those rivals all cost an awful lot less and offer the same or similar levels of premium build quality and luxury equipment. We still wouldn't dare take them off-roading alongside the Jeep. As for the V8 GC, it earned itself a 14/22/17 mpg rating.
Jeep buyers are active people. They own stuff like boats, jet skis, and ATVs. They also need trailers for those toys. Therefore, they require a rig to tow those items to the weekend lake house. The Grand Cherokee has a claimed maximum towing capacity of 6,200 pounds. Nice. That increases to 7,200 pounds with the V8.
The V6 Blazer AWD's tow rating is only 3,500 pounds. So, no boat. The Murano and Edge are even worse at just 1,500 pounds. The Sorento and Santa Fe each have a 3,500-pound capacity. Hands down, the Grand Cherokee, regardless of engine, is the clear winner here.
Based on everything above, it's clear the V6 Grand Cherokee is overpriced compared to its rivals. It surpasses them in only one category, towing. Sure, you can buy that base Laredo model but you'll miss out on a power liftgate, a power-adjustable passenger front seat, and 20-inch alloy wheels. Some of those items are standard on the above batch of rivals. They certainly are on the V8 Grand Cherokee.
With each passing day, we wished our Grand Cherokee Overland had the V8 because we knew were missing out. Yes, fuel economy takes a hit but we accept that with the aging 5.7 Hemi.
That being said, the Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid will go on sale later this year and our first test drive is just around the corner. Priced from $57,700, it'll come with a 2.0-liter turbo inline-four paired to two electric motors, a 400-volt, 17-kWh battery pack, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Total output is 375 hp and 470 lb-ft. Furthermore, it can travel up to 25 miles in pure EV mode and an estimated 57 MPGe with a total range estimated at over 440 miles. Oh, and it can tow up to 6,000 pounds. Something tells us this is the one to get.