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With its knobby tires and air suspension, this SUV can take you anywhere—including overnight stays in town.
Craig brings 15 years of automotive journalism experience to the Roadshow team.A lifelong Michigan resident, he was as comfortable with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he was in front of the camera or behind the keyboard.When not hosting videos or producing features and reviews, he’s probably working on one of his project cars in the garage.To date, he has completely restored a 1936 Ford V8 sedan and is currently resurrecting another flat-headed power relic, the ’51 Ford Crestliner.Craig is a proud member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee can do it all.With an advanced four-wheel-drive system, available air suspension and plenty of ground clearance, this SUV is a skilled climber.However, thanks to its handsome styling and upscale interior, it’s still a great choice for a family trip or overnight stay on the town.Whether it’s traversing the Rubicon Trail or transporting you and your spouse to the Orchestra Hall, the Grand Cherokee has everything you need.
The aggressive-sounding but very livable Trailhawk model sits right in the middle of the Grand Cherokee range.Offering only two rows of seats, this trim level is designed for off-road use.As such, it comes standard with Quadra-Drive II all-wheel drive and an electronic limited-slip rear differential.There’s also a Quadra-Lift air suspension, a breakaway anti-roll bar and standard 18-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires.
The Grand Cherokee you see here is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine, though this entry-level offering has no underpinnings.Smooth and quiet throughout the rev range, Stellantis’ Pentastar V6 is always a pleasure to start, delivering a class-competitive 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.Granted, those numbers are a far cry from the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 (357 hp, 390 lb-ft), but the Pentastar engine is up to the challenge of a big-boned, 4,747-pound SUV.The V6 can even tow up to 6,200 pounds on the Grand Cherokee, though you can tow half a ton more if you opt for the Hemi.
Helping this SUV accelerate with ease is a well-sorted eight-speed automatic transmission.The transmission is nimble and silky, shifting pleasantly with imperceptible smoothness, and when you tap the throttle, it downshifts easily to let the V6 breathe, which works especially well at higher engine revs .Switching to Sport mode significantly improves throttle response and transmission performance compared to other midsize SUVs.
The four-wheel-drive Grand Cherokee Trailhawk has EPA ratings of 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined — oddly enough, those figures are exactly the same as the two-wheel-drive model.In mixed use, I got only 18 mpg, which isn’t great performance.
Dynamically, Jeep engineers have a lot to be proud of.The Grand Cherokee’s construction feels absolutely rock-solid, as unyielding as a granite boulder.This stiffness helps provide a well-controlled but very comfortable ride, and the Trailhawk’s air suspension absorbs imperfections without rocking the body.Those adjustable harnesses are also a godsend off-road, as they give you a whopping 11.3 inches of ground clearance, nearly as much as a fully loaded Wrangler Rubicon.
Reflecting its good driving experience, the steering feels dense and firm through the thick wheels.This SUV is always planted, but it feels smaller and more nimble than you might think.
When you open or close Grand Cherokee’s doors, their doors get bigger.It sounds loud and old-fashioned, but also reassuring, like that USB battery pack you put in your computer bag, even if it hasn’t been charged in months.Inside, the SUV’s interior is luxurious and stylish, even if this tester’s interior is darker than a chimney clogged.From leather to hard plastic to stitching, all the materials used here are lovely — well, pretty much everything.Piano black is never a good idea, even on stringed instruments.The glossy black material attracts dust and fingerprints to the carrion like a crow does, and these things get scratched easily.The interior of this Jeep already looks like it’s on gravel roads, and the car has only 1,600 miles on the odometer.
The Grand Cherokee’s dashboard looks great, and all the usual controls—like the gear lever, infotainment screen, and air vents—are easy to see and reach.The power front seats in the Trailhawk are comfortable all day and feature heating and ventilation.The second-row bench is equally accommodating, offering ample headroom and legroom, as well as ample support from its firm cushions.Backseat riders also get hip heaters, which are standard on all but base models.If you need three rows, go for the Grand Cherokee L springs, which are more than 11 inches longer than the standard model, or you can go for the Jeep Wagoneer or Grand Wagoneer, but neither of these SUVs get the Trailhawk treatment.
Keeping pace with other premium SUVs, the Grand Cherokee offers a ton of tech.For starters, Trailhawks come standard with an 8.4-inch infotainment screen with navigation, but the optional 10.1-inch screen is worth every penny of the $1,495 upgrade fee.Bright, colorful and crisp, this screen is home to the Uconnect 5 infotainment system, which is responsive and easy to navigate.Every Grand Cherokee comes standard with a 10.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster, which unfortunately isn’t quite as laudable.The interface isn’t well thought out, and cycling through menus is surprisingly unintuitive.In addition to all these features, driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist are also standard across the model range.
You can also buy this Jeep with optional digital mirrors and a 10.3-inch passenger-side display.Invisible to the driver, a $1,095 dash-mounted touchscreen lets anyone riding a shotgun use the vehicle’s camera, enter destinations into the navigation system or consume their own entertainment via a Bluetooth-paired device or HDMI port.Overall, it’s a pretty neat feature, even if the on-screen interface lags noticeably compared to the main infotainment display.
Other standard Trailhawk goodies include automatic headlights and high beams, LED fog lights, remote start and a heated steering wheel.The example you see here also comes with the $1,295 Luxury Tech Group III package, which gets you rain-sensing windshield wipers, second-row sunshades, a hands-free power tailgate, and more.The $1,995 Advanced Protech Group II includes parking sensors, a 360-degree camera system, and night vision with pedestrian and animal detection, which is especially useful at low speeds in urban areas.The SUV comes with a full-color head-up display, but only on higher-end Overland and Summit models.
From most angles, the new Grand Cherokee and its stretched-out sibling look good, though, to my jaundiced eyes, its styling is a step backward compared to the car’s predecessor.The latest generation doesn’t look as handsome or shapely, and the slightly sloping grille makes the vehicle look like it has an awkward bite.
With its unique combination of capability and luxury, the Grand Cherokee should perform better in the dirt than rivals like the Ford Explorer and Kia Telluride.Depending on the interior, this Jeep is also rich enough to put the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90 at the expense of euros.
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is priced at $61,040, including a $1,795 destination charge.Options not yet mentioned include a $1,695 dual-pane sunroof and $395 silver zynith paint (yes, that’s how they chose to spell zenith).Steering away from all the extras, you can get a Trailhawk for about $53, or if you’re extra stingy, a basic Grand Cherokee Laredo for less than $40.
For now, the Trailhawk is an impressive SUV with undeniable ability in the dirt, but still refined enough to rival some luxury utility vehicles.With a ton of standard and available tech, rock-solid power, and a premium interior, this Jeep can pretty much do it all.
Post time: Mar-02-2022