Jeep’s Grand Cherokee 4xe hybrid vehicle brings electric energy to its line of SUVs, but the big question is whether its microscopic 25 miles of all-electric range is enough to satisfy those looking for gasoline alternatives. Ultimately, it makes for a solid hybrid option, but not a great EV.
Jeep Goes Electric With Help From Gasoline
- Engine: 2.0L I-4 Turbo PHEV
- Torque: 470 lb-ft
- Horsepower: 375hp
- Transmission: 8-Speed 8P75PH PHEV Automatic
- Electric range: 25 miles all-electric range
- MPG (gas+electric city/hwy combo): 56 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe)
- MPG (gas city/hwy combo): 23 miles per gallon
- Brakes: Power-assisted, anti-lock system
Jeep’s Grand Cherokee 4xe advertises its hybrid electric capability very prominently from the hijacked “4xe” branding instead of 4×4, as well as bright blue accents around the vehicle. Jeep wants people to know something is different about these electrified models.
It’s fair for the company to lean hard into this technology. The 2022 and 2023 4xe Cherokee and Wrangler vehicles with an MSRP of less than $80,000 each qualify for a federal rebate of up to $3,750. And for people who are hesitant of going electric-only, the fallback to gasoline may ease their fears for long-distance trips or off-road adventures.
Since the future of the car industry is electric, however, I was most interested in that part of this 2022 Grand Cherokee Overland model I tested for a week. At the onset, I wanted to figure out whether the 25-mile electric-only range was even enough to get a sense of driving electric or if it was primarily there to perform hybrid duties.
I’ve driven an electric vehicle from Tesla exclusively for the last five years and have tested the Rivian R1T electric truck, so I was also curious how Jeep directly compared to those experiences as well.
Both the 2022 and 2023 Grand Cherokee 4xe Overland models start at $68,000 so it’s in the range of a Tesla Model Y. If you upgrade the Jeep with additional luxury or technology packages, you can get into the price range of a Rivian R1T.
Driving Jeep’s Grand Cherokee 4xe as an All-Electric
There are three driving modes for the 4xe Grand Cherokee: Electric, Hybrid, and E-Saver. That translates to using only the battery, half battery and half gasoline, and all gasoline.
For my initial driving, I stuck to electric-only as much as I could. Surprisingly, this Grand Cherokee 4xe was less similar to driving a Tesla or Rivian than I thought it would be. It was quiet because there was no engine noise, but that’s where most similarities stopped.
The Grand Cherokee 4xe doesn’t have the same ability to mash the pedal down to the ground as those other two vehicles. There was power, of course, but as soon as I pressed my foot down to feel more, it disappeared and felt more beholden to shifting gears in the way a gas vehicle does.
The other immediate difference I felt was in the braking. The hallmark of an electric vehicle is that the onerous is on the person to accelerate rather than to brake. Unlike an electric vehicle, this Grand Cherokee 4xe didn’t want to come to a complete stop as you eased off the accelerator pedal and some regenerative braking kicked in to slow it.
Once I was at a complete stop using the brake pedal and lifted my foot off it, the vehicle would begin to creep. There was no hold option that I could find. I definitely missed the rhythm of driving a purely electric vehicle. Because even in the electric mode on the Grand Cherokee 4xe, everything was less smooth—from accelerating to slowing down and stopping.
For those unfamiliar, regenerative braking tries to harness some of the energy when a vehicle slows down. On this vehicle, that feature is a physical button on the dashboard. I left it on all the time. I figured that with such a low battery range, it would probably be silly not to keep it on. The regenerative breaking strength was pretty mellow compared to other vehicles I’ve tried. It was just enough strength to create a steep learning curve for coming to a non-jerking motion stop.
Despite the electric mode not quite being in the same class as a vehicle from Tesla or Rivian, it was satisfying enough to have at least the option to drive electric-only. Cutting out the engine noise and avoiding using gasoline all the time made driving nicer.
I did some very light dirt and off-road driving in Electric mode, but nothing significant to determine performance in this area. The Jeep handled well, and I appreciated the ability to raise and lower the suspension as needed.
If you’re curious, like I was, about what happens when you run out of battery power, the gas engine merely kicks in—you don’t just stop in the road. Also, Hybrid mode is the default way the vehicle starts if you were using the gas-guzzling E-Save mode on the previous drive.
Charging the Plug-in Grand Cherokee 4xe
On multiple days, I purposefully drove to places like a grocery store and mall that had public charging stations so I could get a sense of doing errands while charging the Grand Cherokee 4xe. Only having a 25-mile electric range was a huge tease. Driving to those places took a significant part of the battery range and then required a little over an hour of charging at a level 2 public charging station to fill it up again. Then, driving back home took a substantial amount of battery power again.
Even though I’ve driven electric vehicles for the last five years, I had no idea how it would feel having only about 25 miles of electric range available. It turned out to be really tough. I don’t think it’s a feasible option to buy the Grand Cherokee 4xe for the purpose of only electric driving.
Being able to do electric-only driving is a bonus for narrow circumstances, but it probably shouldn’t be the reason you buy this vehicle. The Wrangler 4xe’s 21-mile range falls in a similar position.
Charging the Grand Cherokee 4xe was a piece of cake and as simple as any other plug-in electric car. There is no high-speed charging here, though. It is simply level 1 at 120V, like a standard wall outlet, or level 2 at 240V, which typically provides around 10 to 12 miles of range per hour.
From less than 5% battery to 100% power, the Jeep showed that it would take 11 hours and 12 minutes to use a level 1 outlet. Using a level 2 outlet, such as one used for a clothes dryer, the estimated time was 2 hours and 6 minutes.
Interestingly, the 4xe Grand Cherokee can also charge its battery in E-Save mode while driving. It was almost like Jeep’s attempt at a perpetual motion machine, even though it’s only repurposing existing energy.
Grand Cherokee 4xe’s Infotainment and CarPlay
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland model I tested was fully loaded with technology and features. Unfortunately, that did not translate to a highly refined, sophisticated experience. In fact, it may have contributed to the sense of overwhelming clutter.
A mix of physical buttons and a robust touchscreen made up the driver’s cockpit in the vehicle. With over 45 physical buttons scattered across the steering wheel and center console, it took a lot of time to feel semi-comfortable with operating all of the controls. But even after a week, I still thought the number of buttons was too many. There were 16 buttons on the steering wheel alone, without counting the turn signal or wiper stocks.
Physical controls and touchscreen controls were duplicated, and even though I love complicated gadgets, most of the controls here felt haphazard in placement. Another example of the complications was that there were buttons that needed to be pressed to turn off, while one next to them needed to be pressed to be turned on. Even though the button to turn off fan air was labeled “off,” pushing it initially would turn the fans on too.
It’s a minor gripe but extends to the larger issue with car controls. Even though all touchscreen controls in cars likely aren’t the answer, using too many buttons is not the solution either.
This Grand Cherokee 4xe had a second video screen on the passenger side of the dashboard. There was also a heads-up display that could show several pieces of information in the windshield that would appear as if it were floating out above the hood of the vehicle. It was a neat trick and generally helpful, but very limited in being able to show your driving speed, speed limit, current road, and the next turn-by-turn direction.
Unfortunately, I was left disappointed with the infotainment experience compared to Tesla and Rivian’s onboard full media and content experience. CarPlay and Android Auto were saving graces here, but even those needed to be side-stepped plenty of times during a drive, for one reason or another.
People who want this vehicle for other reasons beyond its infotainment options will probably learn to live with the controls and adopt them wholeheartedly. On the other hand, if the media area and center console are major consideration factors, I would definitely go hands-on with this vehicle in person before making any irrevocable decisions.
Jeep does have an app for this model of Grand Cherokee that performs basic functions like remote start, lock and unlock, honk the horn, and flash the lights. You can also request service through the app and send directions to the car’s navigation through it. I wasn’t able to try the app integration, but since it mostly acts as a digital key fob, I didn’t feel like I was missing much. For example, it doesn’t auto-start the car when you sit down or anything passive like that.
Should You Buy the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe?
There’s no better argument for convincing someone how great an electric vehicle is than simply letting them drive one. The Jeep Cherokee 4xe does that quite literally with buttons that will allow you to feel the difference between gas and electric driving immediately. Even for the most traditional drivers, it’s hard to imagine anyone would prefer the harsher driving conditions of the E-Save mode compared to the Electric mode.
There are certainly reasons to still want an internal combustion engine vehicle—road trips with an inconvenient schedule is certainly one of those. But the reasons to actually need one of those vehicles are rapidly disappearing.
Even though this particular Jeep Cherokee 4xe isn’t the best representation of an all-electric vehicle, it could still convince people how much they would enjoy an all-electric car or truck. Because as it stands right now, the 25-mile electric range only feels like a tease that makes all the other times of driving this vehicle less desirable. It’s a dip into electric for drivers without having to fully commit yet.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
- Multiple driving modes, including all-electric
- Comfortable interior
- Heads up display and CarPlay were handy
- 25-miles electric range was limiting
- Couldn?t perform 1-pedal driving with low strength regenerative braking
- Way too many buttons and cluttered controls