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Jeep Grand Cherokee 2022: new-gen SUV revealed, tested in outback Australia


The follow-up to Jeep’s most successful vehicle ever in Australia has been revealed, with the fifth-generation two-row Grand Cherokee unveiled overnight

Late into the night local time, Jeep unveiled the successor to the WK Grand Cherokee large SUV – the American brand’s most successful product ever to be sold in Australia.

Enter the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee, internally known as the WL. Like its predecessor, this five-seat American crossover will compete in the semi-premium large SUV space alongside rivals like the Volkswagen Touareg.

UPDATE 30/9/21: the arrival of the seven-seat Grand Cherokee L has been pushed back to the “first half of 2022” due to semiconductor shortages affecting the automotive industry. The five-seat Grand Cherokee will launch in the “second half of 2022”.

UPDATE #2, 30/9/21: the plug-in hybrid Grand Cherokee 4xe has been confirmed for Australia, with the PHEV arriving in late 2022 alongside the remainder of the five-seat Grand Cherokee line-up.

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Trailhawk 2022 silver
The new Grand Cherokee introduces a plug-in hybrid powertrain with 40km electric range.

Back in January, Jeep showed us the extended-wheelbase seven-seat version of this car known as the Grand Cherokee L – but it’s been a long wait to see the two-row, five-seat car that is a more direct replacement for the existing model.

When will the new Grand Cherokee be released in Australia?

In the first major redevelopment of the Grand Cherokee since 2005’s WK chassis, buyers will first be able to step into the seven-seat L models from the first half of 2022 before the two-row Grand Cherokee hits Australian shores a few months later.

Local pricing is yet to be locked in, with the outgoing Grand Cherokee most recently spanning $59,590 for a V6 Night Eagle grade to $140,450 for the supercharged V8 Trackhawk.

The only firm indication of timing is “2022”, at this stage, but it is unlikely that there will be a wait of more than a year between the Australian arrival of the long-wheelbase L and the standard-wheelbase vehicle.

Jeep Grand Cherokee L 2021 upgraded interior
The new Grand Cherokee has a more sumptuous interior, lined in leather and wood.

Outback Australia stress testing, higher quality targets

Much of the chassis is shared with the ‘L’, meaning substantial increases in stiffness – up to 60 per cent – over the outgoing WK platform that leant heavily on ageing parts from Jeep’s DaimlerChrysler days.

With the brand now sitting beneath the global Stellantis group, quality is expected to increase – a lasting bugbear with buyers in Australia and a reputation Jeep has been striving to address, overtly and implicitly, since before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

Jeep chief executive officer Christian Meunier said the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee had been stress-tested in difficult environments around the world prior to sign-off.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk grades 2022
Stress testing on the Grand Cherokee included a stint in the Australian outback.

“Our new Grand Cherokee was tested on the legendary Rubicon Trail, the outback in Australia, the dunes of the Middle East, the severe cold of Canada and Sweden [and] the beautiful and challenging trails of Moab in Utah,” said Mr Meunier.

Meunier also highlighted Jeep’s position in the first quartile of the most recent JD Power initial quality survey in the United States.

Two petrols and a 4xe plug-in hybrid

Sitting beneath the Grand Cherokee is an independent suspension, front and rear, while an adjustable air suspension system is available on posh grades.

While the long-wheelbase L offers available captain’s chairs in the middle row, the five-seat Grand Cherokee will offer a traditional bench seat.

Two engines are shared with the L while the short-wheelbase Grand Cherokee exclusively offers buyers an additional choice of a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe Trailhawk 2022 silver
Jeep claims the 4xe plug-in hybrid is the most capable Grand Cherokee of all thanks to its instant torque delivery.

Pairing a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with front and rear electric motors and a 17kWh battery, the Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid has an estimated electric driving range of 40km before the petrol engine is required to kick in.

The Grand Cherokee’s hybrid system is substantially identical to that used in the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid that was ruled out for Australia this week by its maker.

Producing a stout 280kW of power and 637Nm of torque with the turbo petrol and twin electric motors working in co-operation, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is not wanting for power.

However, there is no replacement for the 184kW/570Nm three-litre V6 diesel engine that proved popular with fourth-generation Grand Cherokee buyers in Australia.

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe 2022 white front end
The seven-seat Grand Cherokee L will arrive in Australia first, followed by the five-seat version (pictured).

Also available will be the two large-displacement, naturally-aspirated petrol engines from the Grand Cherokee L lineup: a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 making 216kW of power and 348Nm of torque, and a 5.7-litre V8 producing 266kW/529Nm.

No replacement is yet planned for the outgoing, fire-breathing Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which uses a supercharged 6.2-litre petrol V8 to produce staggering outputs of 522kW/868Nm.

Towing capacities are rated at 2,800kg the six-cylinder petrol and 3,200kg for the V8, though a tow rating has not yet been provided for the 4xe plug-in hybrid.

Three different four-wheel drive systems are available for the 2022 Grand Cherokee, with the suite taking in Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II drivetrains with varying levels of capability.

Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe 2022 white rear end
The new WL Grand Cherokee arrives after a marathon 16-year run for the WK and WK2 chassis in Australia.

All include an active transfer case, with a two-speed unit featuring on the Quadra-Trac II system, while the Quadra-Drive II also bundles a locking rear differential.

Jeep quotes ground clearance between 212mm and 276mm for the Grand Cherokee with the air suspension system capable of lifting or lowering the vehicle to suit the conditions.

Wading depth is up by 100mm to 610mm for the new WL Grand Cherokee.

The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is slated to arrive in Australia in 2022, while the seven-seat Grand Cherokee L will arrive in local dealerships by the end of this year.