I don’t know why I was surprised. I mean, the 2022 Grand Cherokee, first and foremost, is a Jeep.
But as the vehicle I was driving nimbly and expertly navigated a rocky climb with ease. My heart skipped a beat. I looked out the passenger window, a mistake, and saw the steep decent down the rocky mountainside. One tire wrong, and that’s all she wrote. Literally.
But the tires on the 2022 Grand Cherokee seemed to be ensconced in sticky tack as the vehicle slowly and methodically trod up the hill, gripping the gravely, rocky surface.
While I’m not an accomplished off-roader, I do a fair bit in any given year, so I’m not a novice. And I have an eye toward competing next year in the Rebelle Rally, an all-female off-road race. So, I definitely don’t have a weak stomach or spirit.
But this course carved out of the mountain gave me heart palpitations at times. Once complete, I was exhilarated.
This amazingly well-appointed vehicle with sueded, heated leather seats and wireless Apple CarPlay could do that.
But again. It’s a Jeep.
That too brief climb up and down the mountain was about an hour long, but the 2022 Grand Cherokee could have done hours more.
We were in the Trailhawk trim with standard 4X4 and had set the Selec-Terrain system to “Rock” mode, dropped into 4LO and hit the sway bar disconnect button. Yep, you heard that correctly – this fifth-generation Grand Cherokee is the only vehicle in its segment to have that latter feature.
That plus the Quadra-Lift air suspension, which delivers up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance, allowed this midsize SUV to do some freaky, capable maneuvers.
And it was fairly smooth and comfortable in the process.
Needless to say, I was impressed.
But I was just impressed with the on-road manners of the Overland model I was given to drive for the day. The driver’s position was highly adjustable and quite comfortable for a petite driver, and with the large side, front and rear windows, visibility out all the windows was quite good.
The only driving position complaint I had was about the A-pillar-side-mirror combo. The pillar is a bit chunky and the mirror is a little too high and close to the pillar. The combination creates a blind spot when you are, say, at a four-way stop and need to check the crosswalk.
But, frankly, that’s the only complaint I found during the brief one-day drive.
I should say that’s the only valid complaint – I did have a few issues related to the fact this was a pre-production model, but I don’t think it’s fair to comment on some of those things until I get the vehicle for a full test period and can verify they are truly a problem.
So, back to the ride and handling. The theme of the day was hill climb, and we took a nicely winding road along the Colorado River then went up the side of another mountain with some hairpins thrown in for good measure.
I found the 2022 Grand Cherokee to be just shy of nimble, but it did not feel at all like it was lumbering up the mountain. From the driver’s seat, it seemed to handle the tight corners well, and I didn’t really feel like the altitude affected the engine power.
Speaking of engine power, my Overland model was a equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine that delivers 293 horsepower and 260 pound feet of torque.
And I didn’t realize it until I looked at the sticker sheet.
Here’s the thing, this engine isn’t Maserati fast. It’s not supposed to be. But I had a lot of questions on social media about whether this engine was as slow as “everyone” says. I don’t I don’t know who “everyone” is, but I suspect they’re looking at it from more of an enthusiast perspective than an every-day driver perspective.
Yes, the 0-to-60-mph is more than 6 seconds. But, it was plenty of fast to merge with highway traffic. And, it was plenty fast to satisfy my aggressive driving tendencies. So, this is where I would insert a little “shrug emoji” if I could use it in a proper story.
While I’m sure I’d like the available 5.7-liter V-8 engine that delivers 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque better, I thought the V-6 was really good.
There is a lot of cool technology available on the 2022 Grand Cherokee, and it ranges from practical to completely frivolous.
So, let’s start with the practical. There are more than 110 available safety features available. At a standard level, you’re looking at automatic emergency detection, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and tire pressure monitoring.
This is the right amount of standard tech, but the available stuff is pretty interesting and includes things like a night-vision camera, intersection collision assist, parallel and perpendicular park assist and a 360-degree camera.
Moving into the frivolous but fricking awesome, I’m going to start with the front camera in the off-road pages. This lets you see exactly where your wheels are going, even if you can’t see the road itself. It’s invaluable in off-road situations.
Then you have Uconnect 5, which enables wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on all trims as well as a customizable home page. I set up two pages – one for everyday driving with comfort features and radio setup, then another with off-road displays including suspension, off-road pages and camera displays.
Another cool-tech feature: the available rear camera mirror. Whether cargo or passengers block your view out the rear window, you’ll always be able to see what’s behind you with the digital display in the rearview mirror. Just flip the tab below the mirror and voila! Clear view out the rear.
Then you have all the screens. Available front passenger and rear-seat screens allow everyone to have their own entertainment – and none of it is visible to the driver. The front passenger screen is a personal fave because you can stream video, pair your phone and watch what’s there, do some co-pilot functions with setting the navigation or hook up to an HDMI port and play video games. What’s more, if you have the rear-seat entertainment system, each entertainment screen (front passenger and rear outboard seats) can be viewing something different.
And there’s so much more. Other available cool tech features include the Alexa functionality, a 10-inch head-up display, wireless charging, a digital gauge cluster, McIntosh Audio, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot to connect up to eight devices, Fire TV and the ability to simultaneously pair two phones via Bluetooth.
If you are familiar with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, none of the trims should surprise you. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims except Trailhawk and High Summit. On trims where FWD is standard, 4X4 capability is a $2k charge. Prices below, don’t include the $1,795 destination fee.
Even though there is so much good stuff available on the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the standard tech and features are pretty amazing. While Limited is going to be the volume seller, I’d probably opt for the Overland just because the customizability increases – you can get the black roof, passenger screen, V-8 engine, etc., starting at this trim.
In sum, there is so much good stuff on this all-new vehicle, I feel like I could write another 1,200 words on it. But I’ll leave it here: This iconic vehicle is improved in every way – from cargo volume to tech. Want a midsize SUV: Start your search here.
Editor’s note: Driving impressions in this “First Drive” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Stellantis North America covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.