While most auto manufacturers are going directly to battery electric vehicles, Jeep is taking a smaller step first. The 4xe powertrain was first introduced on the Wrangler. Now, the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is the next vehicle from the brand to receive this plug-in hybrid powertrain. This should make the Grand Cherokee faster and more efficient than the standard V6. So does it work?
Engine – At the center of the 4xe powertrain is a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. On its own, the engine produces 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque (201 kW & 400 Nm). With the addition of two electric motors, one on the engine (44 hp / 39 lb-ft) and one between the engine and transmission (134 hp / 195 lb-ft), the total output of this system is 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque (280 kW & 637 Nm). For an SUV that weighs 2,505 kg (5,524 lbs), the Grand Cherokee 4xe takes off the line almost like it has a big V8 under the hood. The electric motors provide instant torque to give you the low end torque of a V8. Once the engine’s rpms build and the turbocharger spools up, it provides the bulk of the power just like a V8 revving to the redline. All that’s missing is the sound of a big, burbly V8. This plug-in hybrid powertrain is capable of towing up to 6,000 lbs.
Battery & Charging – The battery has 17.3 kWh of capacity which enables the Grand Cherokee 4xe an electric only driving range of 42 km (26 miles). That is the range that is claimed by Jeep and it is roughly what I’ve noticed during my time with the SUV. However, if you decide to use the climate controls, the driving range drops by about 5 to 7 km (3 – 4 miles)during the winter months. The electric heater eats up a lot of the power.
To recharge the battery from a wall outlet, it will take approximately 12 hours. From a more common 7-ish kW level 2 charger, it will take approximately 2 hours to recharge the battery. The engine can also be used to recharge the battery, to a certain extent. However, this will have a huge impact on the fuel economy because not only are you telling the engine to provide propulsion, but it also needs to recharge the battery. You can also choose to just hold the battery charge at whichever level it is.
Fuel Economy – If you let the battery drain and just run with the engine on its own, the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is rated to return up to 10.3 L/100km (22.8 MPG) in a city and 9.7 L/100km (24.2 MPG) on a highway. When the battery is flat, the powertrain behaves like a self-recharging hybrid system like the one found in the Toyota Corolla Hybrid.
But if you consistently plug in the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe and drive as much as you can on the battery, then the fuel economy figure will drop. I managed 7.3 L/100km (32.2 MPG) during my week with the 4xe which is good but it could have definitely been better.
Transmission – Like many other Jeep vehicles, the 2023 Grand Cherokee 4xe has an 8-speed automatic transmission distributing the power to all four wheels. This is a great transmission for providing smooth shifts in everyday driving situations. However, it’s not particularly quick to respond to driver inputs in this Grand Cherokee. It’s not horribly slow, but it’s not as fast as some other 8-speed automatics.
Braking – The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe uses a combination of traditional braking and regenerative braking to bring the SUV to a stop. In normal conditions, the brakes provide an ample amount of braking force with an easy to modulate brake pedal. Regen braking is controlled through the brake pedal by default. However, you can opt to turn on Max Regen braking. This will provide smooth deceleration as the battery gathers as much power from the motion of slowing down. This mode is not a one-pedal mode but it will slow down the SUV by a significant amount, right down to about 10 km/h (6 mph). After which, you have to use the brake pedal to completely stop the Grand Cherokee.
Handling – This latest generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is aiming to compete against the more luxury and premium focused brands. As such, the driving dynamics are more tuned for a comfortable drive rather than a sporty one. The SUV feels stable around corners with the suspension providing good composure and control of body roll. Steering is sharp but lacking in feel which is fine for an SUV like this.
This being a Jeep, it also has to be good off the beaten path. While this is not exactly a Jeep Wrangler, it can tackle some light off-roading duties. It has Sand, Snow, and Rock off-road modes that alter the transmission shifts, throttle response, 4×4 system, air suspension, and traction / stability control programs. The 4xe is only available with 4×4 and the Trailhawk has 10.9” of maximum ground clearance with 24” of water fording capability.
Ride Comfort – Last year when I drove the Grand Cherokee L, I found the ride to be quite comfortable. In this Trailhawk 4xe, the ride is a bit choppy. As you drive over bumps in the road, they feel sharp and as though the suspension is not really absorbing the shunt. I’m not saying that it will make you go cross-eyed on city streets but it just doesn’t feel as comfortable as I remember it. It could be my imagination playing tricks on me or it could be the more off-road focused trim of this demo vehicle but it definitely doesn’t feel as smooth as the ride in a comparable luxury SUV with air suspension.
Having said that, when the tarmac turns to dirt, the suspension is quite good at making the Grand Cherokee 4xe glide over really rough dirt tracks. Additionally, the air suspension continues to keep the body composed and level when you’re going deep on a forest service road.
Interior Space – The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is only available as a 2-row SUV. What that means is a lot of space for all occupants across both rows. Front occupants have loads of space even if they are as tall as myself at 6’4”. The seating position is high up with great visibility all around the SUV. In the back seats, rear occupants sit higher up than the front. As a result, headroom is a bit more limited with my hair gently brushing up against the headliner. Thankfully, the rear seatbacks can recline to provide greater comfort and headroom. Legroom in the back is good with my knees barely brushing the back of the front seat behind my tall driving position.
The trunk accommodates 1,067 L (37.7 cu-ft) of space behind the rear seats and 2,004 L (70.8 cu-ft) with the second row seats folded. They fold almost completely flat and there’s a little Jeep easter egg in the very back window with the different generations of the Grand Cherokee.
Noise, Vibration, Harshness – Overall, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is a quiet SUV. Hardly any engine, road, or wind noise intrudes into the cabin. Of course, if the engine is working hard, then the noises will be more evident but overall it’s quite quiet. However, you will feel the vibrations of the engine through the steering wheel, the pedals, and through the seat. More so than in other PHEVs or just normal gasoline-only SUVs. The transition from electric to the engine is smooth unless you’re at a stop light and the engine needs to run, you’ll most likely feel it turning on.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – Though the standard 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a reasonable starting price of around $57,000 CAD, this 4xe powertrain is a lot more expensive. The 2023 Grand Cherokee 4xe starts at $79,380 CAD / $61,660 USD including destination. The interesting thing is that for us here in Canada, the dual pane sunroof and Luxury Tech Group 2 package are automatically added on and cannot be removed from the base model. Without those two items, the price would be about $4,500 CAD less. This Trailhawk 4xe trim came equipped to $85,475 CAD / $71,125 USD including destination.
Gadgets – Although the price is in luxury SUV territory, it comes equipped like a luxury SUV. It has heated & ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, surround view cameras, front & rear parking sensors, a rear camera mirror, wireless phone charging pad, panoramic sunroof, programmable power liftgate, dual zone automatic climate control, and a few gadgets that are rarely seen on other vehicles.
These include a second screen for the front passenger. On this screen, the passenger can watch movies via the USB or HDMI ports on the center console, they can change the music and set a destination and then display it on the main infotainment screen. This separate front screen has a layer on it that prevents the driver from seeing the screen so that it’s not too distracting while driving. Only the passenger can see this screen.
The other unique gadget is the night vision camera. It’s actually a heat vision or infrared camera which highlights the hottest spots of other vehicles or pedestrians or animals that may be in front of the vehicle. It will also highlight in bright yellow rectangles and pedestrians and animals that it may recognize.
The infotainment system is Uconnect 5 which allows for some degree of customizability with different widgets on the home screen and favorites menu dropping down from the top. It also allows for wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto connectivity and I did not have any connectivity issues while using wireless Android Auto.
Interior Design – This new generation Grand Cherokee has a good looking and premium feeling interior… for the most part. A lot of the materials are soft to the touch but there are some that come from the less expensive Jeep models. These are primarily on the center console with the gloss black and hard plastic along the side. This demo vehicle had less than 4,000 km on the odometer but the gloss black looked horrible with all the scratches that were already on it. The hard plastic on the side of the center console wasn’t scratched but it’s not so nice to the touch.
Elsewhere, the trim across the dashboard and door panels looks great and would’ve made a better choice on the center console. One minor complaint is with the digital driver instrumentation. It displays a lot of information but it looks cluttered. It doesn’t look as elegant as the simple dual gauge layout of the Grand Cherokee L. You can choose other screens and what information to display but there isn’t anything elegant.
Exterior Design – The Grand Cherokee 4xe’s exterior styling is an evolution of the Grand Cherokee design that we’ve grown accustomed to. It retains the 7 rectangles in its grille that all Jeep vehicles have. Around back, it looks a bit more simplistic with the horizontal LED tail lights. There are also light blue highlights all around the vehicle that all 4xe Jeep vehicles utilize. The overall shape is still easily recognizable as a Jeep SUV.
Safety – There aren’t too many safety & driver aids on the Jeep Grand Cherokee that are not standard. The usual features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure with lane keep, blind spot sensors, rear parking sensors with automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, and rear seat reminder are all standard.
Some of the options include front cross traffic alert, front parking sensors, front off-road camera, and active driving assist which integrates the adaptive cruise control with the lane centering to make highway driving a bit more comfortable.
Warranty – The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is covered by a 3 year / 60,000 km basic and 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. The battery warranty is 10 years or 160,000 km, whichever comes first. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty, click here.
Conclusion – This Grand Cherokee 4xe has me feeling a bit conflicted. On one hand, I love plug-in hybrid vehicles. I think that they are the best of both gasoline and battery electrics. Plus they require less raw minerals to produce. I also like what Jeep has done to the new generation Grand Cherokee with a spacious, good looking, and capable SUV.
On the other hand, this is an expensive SUV which puts it in the same category as other luxury SUVs such as the Volvo XC60 T8 and BMW X5 45e. Compared to those, this Grand Cherokee 4xe can’t match them for comfort and luxury feel. The engine isn’t as refined as those and the interior could use a few more premium materials. Although, if Jeep reduces the price of the 2023 Grand Cherokee 4xe by maybe $10,000, it would make this PHEV a bargain.
Thank you to Jeep Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Jeep.ca