Rethinking what it means to be a Jeep

Automaker puts the ‘Grand’ in Grand Cherokee .

Every time I’ve stepped inside one of the new Jeep SUVs (that’s not a Wrangler), I say the same thing: Who does Jeep think they are now? And what I mean by that is Jeep has gone through an impressive metamorphosis with their SUV line, offering luxury, swanky vehicles. This is a straying from their more basic, rugged offering they’ve profited from over the years.

This week I’m reviewing the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and I actually got to enjoy two different trims with two different powertrains. And both left me saying once again, who does Jeep think they are here?

Getting to experience the Grand Cherokee with both the 3.6-liter engine and the turbocharged 2.0-liter with electric motor assist helped me gain perspective on what this SUV is about.

As the 4xe (electric motor with the turbo 2.0), the Grand Cherokee lives up to the first part its name. It’s quite Grand. Jeep is making headway with the 4xe nameplate — dropping the electric motor assists in most of its line, including the Wrangler.

Ten years ago, it would’ve been blasphemy to talk about an electric Jeep; but now it’s not only accepted but is quite a good option. With the tried-and-true 3.6-liter V6, the Grand Cherokee is a little more familiar. That is, it performs as you might remember a Jeep to drive. It’s slightly underpowered with this engine as it’s rated for 293 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. Comparatively, the 4xe version is rated 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is part of both powerplants and does an adequate job of handling the power and torque. There’s no noticeable turbo lag with this transmission on the 4xe version. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, but a Jeep should be all-wheel drive (AWD). Both of my testers were 4x4.

On looks, the Grand Cherokee also earns the first part of its name as it’s quite grand-looking. Jeep’s focus is to invade the luxury SUV market and they’re doing so with the Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer. Is that a Cadillac? It certainly looks as high-end as a Cadillac or other luxury nameplate.

It still retains that waterfall-like grille that Jeep is known for. The unique shape of the dual exhaust is built into the rear bumper, giving it a completed look. Clean lines and refined styling will keep the Grand Cherokee from aging.

In the 4xe variant, the blue lowercase e is a common theme on both the back and the side of the Grand Cherokee. The black appearance package on the Grand Cherokee Limited really makes this SUV pop with gloss black painted aluminum wheels and gloss black accents.

Inside, the luxury focus is quite evident. Leather seat surfaces are just the beginning of what makes this five-passenger SUV “grand.” Heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats help add to the niceties, while soft materials and gorgeous accents add refinement not usually found a in a Jeep.

From a technology standpoint, Jeep doesn’t often get enough praise for the intuitive nature of the infotainment system. A 10.1-inch touchscreen is responsive and well-placed in the center, while the front passenger can enjoy their own 10.25-inch touchscreen as well (optional). This makes the entire front dashboard seem modern with a wall of screens. It doesn’t overwhelm but it does look impressive.

Behind the second row there’s 37.7 cubic feet of cargo room, which is impressive amongst other-five-passenger SUVs. Fold the rear seats down and that cargo area expands to 70.8 cubic feet. This shows how versatile the Grand Cherokee can be for carrying not only passengers but as a weekend warrior vehicle.

All of the aforementioned luxury does come at a price. With the Grand Cherokee 4xe Summit starting more than $65,000. Meanwhile the Limited trim had a base price of $49,020, but when optioned out had a final MSRP of $57,540.

Fuel economy on the 4xe is outstanding as you’d expect with a plug-in hybrid. It has an all-electric range of around 25 miles. As such, it offers a combined fuel economy rating of 56 mpg. The 3.6-liter V6 with 4WD is rated at 19 mpg/city and 26 mpg/highway. This is more in line with what you expect from a Jeep.

So just who does Jeep think they are? I’m not sure, but if all you think about when you hear the name is Jeep is a rugged off-road mud monster, think again.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4

Price/As tested price................................................ $49,020/$57,540

Mileage.......................................... 19 mpg/city; 26 mpg/hwy

Engine............................................. 3.6-liter turbocharged V6

Horsepower................................. 293 hp/257 lbs./ft.

Transmission................................. 8-speed automatic

Drive Wheels................ Four-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point................ Detroit, MI

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