2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee first drive review

Smart styling and an underwhelming engine headline the new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been launched for Rs 77.5 lakh
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been launched for Rs 77.5 lakhShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

Early winter mornings are beautiful in Pune and I was looking forward to driving the Grand Cherokee. I’ve got fond memories of its predecessor and just like the previous generation Cherokee (I only drove the SRT), I wanted to put the GC out of its element by driving it up a winding road. Our erstwhile favourite set of bends — Lavasa. And in the course of the day, the plan was to explore some trails and do Jeep things as well. Fun right? Too bad the SUV came with a babysitter to ensure we don’t climb rocks in a Jeep. In a Jeep! While that was hard to resist, we wanted to know more about this flagship American SUV nevertheless. Could this be the SUV for you?

Design of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

It just works! I find it hard to find a fault in the way this SUV looks. If you would close your eyes and imagine a traditional luxury SUV, the clean straight lines, the solid shoulders, the dominating stance and road presence no other SUV can match, the Grand Cherokee ticks all boxes. From the iconic seven slat grille to the squared wheel arches, the minimalist design of the headlights and tail lamps, the SUV looks smart, every way you look at it. The 20-inch 5-spoke alloys are nice and chunky and add to the brutish character of the GC. It’s a design that will age well, look contemporary several years from now, and that’s half the battle won in drawing the handful of HNIs to Jeep showrooms. You want to be seen in the cars you drive, specially in this segment, and in that department, the GC aces.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee interior and features

Step in and the familiarity continues on the inside. It’s one of those SUVs where you would get in and drive like you have owned the car for ages. Every feature is easy to use, you get a lovely commanding driving position with the tip of the hood in your line of sight. The front seats are comfortable and supportive for munching miles all day, there's leather everywhere, the wooden finish on the dashboard and doors make the GC look and feel premium, but it still isn’t the rich cabin experience of some of the German rivals in this segment. On the features the seats are 8-way adjustable and the driver’s seat has a memory function as well. These are ventilated and cooled and even the steering gets a heating function. Even the rear seats get a heating function, which is first but also an overkill. Heated seats in SUVs in India is a good feature in a select few places up in the north while most owners will be from select Tier-1 cities so Jeep India could have specced the car better considering its a CKD, not a CBU.

Entertainment is taken care of if you are in the front though. The passenger gets a 10.25-inch screen to watch movies and more, and it doesn’t distract the driver. A same-sized digital instrument cluster carries forward the neat design of the exterior and interior. The screen on the centre console is intuitive to use as are the music functions behind the steering wheel. The tiny paddle shifters are a bit disappointing, and if you put in too much lock, you will not be able to shift up or down a gear. The rear seat is where most owners will spend a lot of time and the issue here is that the floor is quite high. The seat is comfortable but over longer periods, a lower floor is essential for a relaxed drive. You can however recline the back seats and there is enough legroom and headroom, sun blinds too, so if you don’t mind a little knees-up seating position, the rear seat will work for you.

The Grand Cherokee is packed with tech that you would expect of a flagship SUV. You get ADAS, front collision warning with active braking, lane assist, blind spot monitoring, a 360 degree camera that can be hugely beneficial when you are offroading, a camera for the IRVM and eight airbags.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee engine

As impressive as the design is, on the move, or even on paper, the GC’s powertrain leaves much to be desired. Under the hood is a 2-litre petrol motor with a twin-scroll turbocharger helping the tiny 4-cylinder eke out 400Nm and 268bhp. Most of this is in the strong midrange of the GC so you don’t get much spring in its stride till you get to its mid range. Once there, the SUV will happily motor along, but step further on the gas and the small capacity shows its limitations in this 2.1-tonne SUV. Higher up the rev band, the GC is chugging fuel at alarming rates to keep you entertained. While we didn’t do a fuel run in the limited time we got with it, the on board computer indicated 4.3kmpl which sent my brain into calculation mode. A full tank is 87 litres, and with reserve, close to 95 litres.That is a 10K tank-up taking you between 400-500km. Without a V8 rumble, there is no joy in burning so much dinosaur juice. Then there’s the 8-speed auto box that just makes this powertrain just another powertrain you would not be excited about. With the option of a V6/V8/hybrid mated to this 4-cylinder, did Jeep miss a trick by offering the weakest unit out there? I think so. Just refinement and a smooth cruising character can’t win hearts unfortunately.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee ride and handling

Besides the design, the USP of the Grand Cherokee is its off-road credentials. This SUV sold in India though isn’t the trail rated version so rock mode is given a skip in the Quadra-trac 4x4 system. That said, on a dirt road, the Jeep runs like a Jeep, without much care of the undulations, flattening out the trail very well. The steel springs on the India-spec car are a better choice over air suspension. The latter would wow you at slow city speeds, but the former is a sturdier set up that won’t break the bank on the maintenance front. It is set up on the softer side, which means the SUV rolls and understeers if pushed too hard in corners, but it is a marked step up compared to its predecessor.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2022 Jeep Grand CherokeeShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee verdict

If only good looks could settle things, I’d pick the Grand Cherokee. If you keep your vehicles for a long time, the GC will look contemporary many years from now. It isn’t bound by the latest design trends that change by the season. However, the powertrain robs the Jeep of some character it so desperately deserves. As a flagship SUV, there is plenty to be desired from the GC. It however delivers only from a luxury chauffeur driven SUV’s point of view, or if you limit it to long distance highway mile-munching. There is of course the offroading aspect if you are adventurous enough and have the right set of tyres. The GC is available at Rs 77.5 lakh ex-showroom, which is very competitive. However, you will find several other options in the segment if you are willing to pay a slight premium.

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