The Jeep brand has become notorious for forcing the competition to step up their game when it comes to off-road capabilities, open-air designs, and hardcore enthusiast SUV antics. One of their longest-running current nameplates is the Grand Cherokee, an SUV that seems to derive some of its popularity by continuously defying all the odds. The Cherokee is not averse to pushing the boundaries and reinventing itself on the market. From looks to performance to capabilities, the Grand Cherokee is no slouch in the full-size SUV department. But that brings us to today’s topic: does the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee WL give enthusiasts what they want?
Is it the feature-rich, full-size SUV that will bring all the luxury, ruggedness, and functionality to keep the off-road racers, the uphill climbers, and the downhill trekkers entertained and engrossed? Those are the million-dollar questions, and we’re here to see if we can provide some noteworthy answers to those queries. So before you get excited about grabbing the latest model year Cherokee, find out if it’s the kind of enthusiast machine you’ve hoped it would be.
New Features to Improve Old Qualities
By now, most people are probably well aware of the new features that Jeep has implemented into the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee to make it even more appealing than it’s already been in the past. Apart from the three-row Cherokee L, the 2022 model year also comes in an all-new 4xe format. The hybrid powertrain has been quite the talk of the town, but what about off-road enthusiasts? What do they have to look forward to?
Well, Jeep made sure that everyone who has been loyal to the brand would be handsomely rewarded in the form of some very fascinating features, such as a sway-bar disconnect, the all-new Quadra-Lift air suspension with semi-active damping, as well as 11.3-inches of ground clearance. But how does this translate into something practical for the enthusiasts?
Class Redefined Capabilities
Ground clearance, departure angles, and fording heights are all great features to have, but a full-size SUV that has a fully electronic disconnecting sway bar is quite the feat. The feature is available exclusively with the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk trim, allowing drivers to be able to achieve all-new articulation across ramps, hills, mounds, and other inclines or descents.
The disconnecting sway bar enables the Cherokee to proceed up or down undulating terrain with articulated wheel travel. When you need the Cherokee to climb over uneven rocks or up a slanted, jagged hill, you can electronically disconnect the sway bar to make the climb and then re-enable it when you need that torsional stability to prevent body-roll on flatter surfaces. This specific 4×4 feature is attached to the Quadra-Drive II system. This means you have access to one of the best transfer cases available for the Cherokee and electronic limited slip-differentials for efficient torque distribution for maximum traction and positional correction.
These systems have also been greatly improved to allow exclusive off-road trims like the Trailhawk to achieve even better performance when not on pavement. For example, YouTube outlet TFLnow noted that every aspect of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee has been improved across the board when it comes to off-road capabilities, durability, and ruggedness, and that’s true. There have been a number of significant and noticeable upgrades for the new model year.
When you compare the previous-generation Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, you had a minimum ground clearance of 8.1 inches and a maximum ground clearance of 10.8 inches with the dynamic air suspension system equipped. The 2022 Grand Cherokee trumps those figures easily by nearly 5%. The Trailhawk now does up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance, and that opens it up to being able to ford up to 24 inches of water. So these aren’t just small or insignificant upgrades that Jeep has embodied into the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee design; these are significant improvements to push the full-size SUV to the next level.
Bolder Stance for Better Handling?
The look of the new Grand Cherokee is definitely sleek, but it certainly appears to be more function over form. Jeep’s ardent pursuit of perfection when it comes to off-road capabilities doesn’t just start and end with the suspension, drivetrain, and 4×4 systems. The body also has to be specifically designed to handle the kind of rough-and-tumble lifestyle that most Jeep enthusiasts are prone to put their Grand Cherokee through.
You might notice that the wheel-wells are a lot more spacious to accommodate wheel travel, thanks to a completely redesigned exterior. This gives the Grand Cherokee a lot more leeway in how it can approach and react to off-road conditions. The added aerodynamic elements are great for on-road driving and ensuring you get the smoothest ride possible (with the best fuel economy possible because we know how much Jeeps can guzzle gas).
The redesign wasn’t just about making the Grand Cherokee a beautiful-looking SUV; it was about making it a beautiful SUV that could take a real pummeling from mother nature. It may not look like a rough-and-tumble machine, but I think that’s what adds to the overall appeal. This rings especially true when compared to the Wrangler or Gladiator, where they look like they were designed to drive straight through the eye of a tornado. The highlight of the Grand Cherokee is that it was designed to accomplish similar feats as the Wrangler but look a lot more stylish doing so.
Tests to Come…
A lot of the biggest challenges that the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee will face are still yet to come. A lot of people will be thrilled getting their hands on it and putting it through its paces to see if it can be bent or broken out of the norm compared to the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, which has already garnered quite the following. The big difference between the two, though, is that the 2022 Grand Cherokee is a two-row SUV, as opposed to the three-row Cherokee L. So there’s a slight contrast in some areas when it comes to breakover angles, handling, and stability.
The other thing is that even though the Jeep Grand Cherokee L has been designed to tackle some of the toughest off-road challenges a full-size SUV could commit to conquering, a simple hold-up with the chip shortages has been a damper on its potential crowning achievements. For those who don’t know, the shortages have affected the availability of the dynamic air-ride suspension offered with the Jeep Grand Cherokee L. In turn, this means that if you had planned on getting one with the express purpose of tackling difficult off-road challenges, you might find yourself in a waiting line for one.
You might not think it’s a big deal, but it completely alters the top-end capabilities of the Cherokee. Maximum ride height, breakover angles, departure angles, fording, and rock climbing are all greatly affected by the air-ride suspension. So what does this have to do with the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee? Well, if the L is encountering these issues, and if Jeep Gladiator production is encountering these issues, it could outline a bumpy road ahead for the future of the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s upper-end trims that offer the air-ride suspension.
More Than Enough for Enthusiasts
With the multiple 4×4 systems, including the Quadra-Lift air suspension, and overall improved ground clearance, angles, and articulation, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee seems to do everything right when it comes to improving the overall quality and appeal for enthusiast drivers. It’s easy to hold out and exercise some reluctance with newer models because sometimes there’s a give and take scenario involving the powertrains, the framework, or the suspension, but in this case, the Jeep Grand Cherokee didn’t sacrifice anything to make gains on its intended goals.
Enthusiasts who have been excited about the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee will likely maintain that excitement so long as the SUV maintains its availability on the market. The only thing that might throw a wrench in the plans is the chip shortages running amok throughout the tech and automotive industry. However, all things considered, if Jeep can keep a handy supply of Grand Cherokee SUVs available with the air-ride suspension, then the sky’s the limit when it comes to market share and adoption rates among off-road enthusiasts.