|Positives: Handsome exterior styling, premium interior, great in-car tech including an optional touchscreen for the front passenger, added efficiency, very good steering and handling.|
|Negatives: Rough powertrain transition, noisy gas engine.|
|Bottom Line: We love the styling, fancy technology, and the quality of the new Grand Cherokee 4xe, but it's the rough powertrain that needs work because it feels half-baked and sullies the driving experience.|
What seems more than acceptable in the Wrangler 4xe doesn't cut the mustard in the Grand Cherokee PHEV. The gas engine is rough, and the transition from electric to gas + electric isn't great, either. It just doesn't match the SUV's handsome look and detracts from the driving experience. Sure, it's plenty quick, but that's just not enough.
Ride Quality: The Summit Reserve also comes standard with the Quadra-Lift Air Suspension, and the ride, especially in Comfort mode, is excellent. Even in Sport mode, which is firmer, isn't jarring in any way.
Acceleration: 0-60 comes in 6.8 seconds, which is almost a second quicker than the V6 gas model. It huffs a lot in the process, which doesn't make the launch nearly as exciting as it could be.
Braking: The regen brakes lack feel (shocking), and they are tough to modulate. You get used to it over time, but that doesn't make the experience of coming to a stop any more pleasant.
Steering: We were surprised to feel some heft to the steering weight, which helps provide confidence. Feedback is decent, and precision is very good.
Handling: The handling is very good for an SUV. Body roll was controlled, and the Grand Cherokee manages its weight well.
There's an impressive array of screens up front for a total of three: A 10.1-inch central infotainment touchscreen, a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster in front of the driver, and an optional second 10.1-inch touchscreen for the front passenger. The optional head-up display provides a slew of information. Navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard.
Infotainment System: The standard 10.1-inch touchscreen display with Uconnect 5 is vivid and easy to read. The configurable instrument cluster is also very good. We were wowed by the front passenger's screen which can play video game consoles via the HDMI cord, as well as broadcast Amazon Fire TV from it. The coolest part might just be the fact that the driver can't see the screen.
Controls: Controls for audio are excellent with two large, knurled knobs. Climate controls could be improved. They're comprised of small piano black buttons that hard to see and set too low on the center stack. The backlit buttons aren't very bright, either, so nighttime control is even more challenging.
The Grand Cherokee looks great with its more refined styling inside and out. You can still recognize the fact that it's a Grand Cherokee, but things have gotten more stylish to compete with the likes of Volvo, BMW, and Mercedes. The Grand Cherokee's cabin has been leveled up by at least a couple of rungs.
Front: The seven-slat grille looks good here, and it's flanked by thin headlights and a simple lower fascia. The flat hood could use more bulge in it for effect, but we do really love the fine mesh in the lower grille.
Rear: The thin LED taillights could be larger, but they do match the size of the headlights. The lower fascia seems a bit busy with numerous horizontal lines. We don't like the tailpipes that are set into the lower bumper.
Profile: The simple profile is very well done, indeed. We love the single body crease, the modest fenders, and the lovely multi-spoke bi-color wheels.
Cabin: The open pore wood and quilted leather look amazing, and everything is beautifully shaped, a far cry from the last Grand Cherokee and definitely enough to compete with the Europeans.
The Grand Cherokee in Reserve Summit trim is superb in terms of overall comfort. There's more space inside than most of the competition, and the grade of materials is excellent. We wish Jeep would use less Piano black due to the preponderance of dust and fingerprints, but everyone else is doing it.
Front Seats: Seats are supple, supportive, and decadent with premium diamond-quilted leather, wide seatbacks, and great adjustability. The cushioning could be a bit better, but it's still pretty good.
Rear Seats: The Summit Reserve comes with 2nd row captain's chairs that provide top-notch comfort and 38.2 inches of legroom.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The operation of the engines can be intrusive an annoying, but road noise and wind noise are kept to a minimum at highway speeds thanks to good sound deadening.
Visibility: Visibility out the front is good with the Grand Cherokee's low hood and a solid seating position. C and D-pillars are on the thick side an occlude the rear/side views.
Climate: Despite the awkward climate controls, the heating and cooling work well. Vents in front are thin, but they move good amounts of air. Heated and ventilated seats are responsive, too.
The Grand Cherokee hasn't been tested by the IIHS yet, but it did get high marks from the NHTSA testing body. It comes with a slew of great safety features, as well as diver assistance technology.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: The Grand Cherokee earns five stars from the federal government.
Standard Tech: The standard set includes quite a bit: Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Active Lane-Management System, Full-Speed Forward-Collision Warning Plus, Surround View Camera System, Parallel and Perpendicular Park-Assist with Stop , Blind-Spot and Cross-Path Detection, Side Distance Warning, Intersection Collision-Assist System, Pedestrian / Cyclist Emergency Braking, Active Driving Assist System, and Drowsy Driver Detection
Optional Tech: Our test vehicle was outfitted with the $1,995 Advanced ProTech Group IV that includes a Head-Up Display, Night Vision w/ Pedestrian and Animal Detection, and a Rear-View Auto-Dimming Digital Display Mirror that helps you see out the back if the window is blocked by cargo.
The Grand Cherokee competes decently in the segment for cargo capacity, but if you want more space, opt for the L.
Storage Space: We like the sizable armrest and the wireless charging cubby in the center stack. Door pockets are decently sized, and the front-row cupholders are nicely placed for easy access. We wish row three had more than just a single cupholder on each side.
Cargo Room: The Grand Cherokee provides 37.7 cubes behind row two and 70.8 with the seats folded flat. That's on par with the Dodge Durango but less than the Honda Passport. The load floor is flat, and the opening is wide, making it easy to place larger items inside.
We didn't see superb efficiency numbers, and it seemed to be about the same as our V6. This was probably mitigated by the fact that there's only about a 2 mpg difference, and we spent a fair amount of time in Sport mode.
Observed: 22.3 mpg.
Distance Driven: 81 miles.
Our test vehicle came optioned out with the 19 Speaker High-Performance Audio system that has both a Active Noise Control System and a booming 950-Watt Amplifier. Sound was fantastic, and we were able to dial up the volume without distortion. It has ample bass and very good clarity.