It’s hard to fathom, but the Jeep Grand Cherokee (JGC) has been in production for…wait for it…thirty years. There it is, I said it. The ZJ generation was Jeep’s first attempt at a luxury SUV. With six and eight cylinder power the Grand Cherokee set up much of the basis of what we know the luxury SUV segment to be today. We’re now on the fifth generation (WL) and we just had a 2022 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk dropped off for a week. Let’s see how the updated JGC faired during our rigorous tests.
Grand Cherokee Overview
I’m a relatively recent Jeep Grand Cherokee owner, having owned a 2015 Altitude trim for, well I don’t remember. I swap vehicles frequently and can’t recall honestly. I can say for certain why we got rid of it, we wanted three rows. That happened for 2021, with the Grand Cherokee L debuting ahead of the next generation two-row version. For 2022, the Laredo remains the base trim and starts at just under $41,000. The lineup ramps up to the top spec $67,000 Summit Reserve trim. All of those trims, save for one, are available in the aforementioned “L” three-row spec.
The Trailhawk that was dropped off for a week of daily driving happens to be the only one that you can’t get with three rows. That’s awkward.
It’s a pretty cool trim though, and I’m sure it’ll get some decent attention from buyers. The Trailhawk comes in 4WD-only and adds off-roady bits like Goodyear Wrangler Territory AT tires, electronically disconnecting stabilizer bar, hill ascent and descent control, adaptive air suspension, an electronic rear limited-slip differential, front tow hooks, a front-facing trail camera.
Other add-ons are interior focused like leather seats with faux suede accents (ventilated up front), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, navigation, and an upgraded Alpine audio system. Unfortunately the screen doesn’t reveal itself and flip up via a motor like the 80s and 90s.
Add-ons include 395 bucks for a host of two-tone exterior paint colors, side steps ($900), the 10.1-inch upgraded UConnect system ($1,615), a unique front passenger display ($1,095), and a dual-pane sunroof ($1,835). A 3.6L V6 (293 horsepower, 260 lb-ft of torque) is standard but for a mere $3,800 you can get the 5.7L V8 engine (357 hp, 390 lb-ft) as well. You can max our your Trailhawk at near $70,000.
Let’s dig a little deeper and find out if the extra kit is worth it.
Trailhawk Inside and Out
I’ll admit that I have been slow to warm up to the skinny headlight and taillight combo that is a prevailing design theme on new vehicles lately. The front end of a lot of new cars and SUVs look like that meme from Inception where DiCaprio is squinting at Cillian Murphy. I can appreciate the tech behind it, new lights are more powerful and easier to direct to a specific spot on the road, so they don’t need to be as large.
The integration on the Grand Cherokee is growing on me, while the front is a little squinty, the integration across the traditional Jeep seven slat grille looks good. It gives the JGC a purposeful scowl as if to say “mess with me and you mess with my big brother (I mean, you know SRT and Trackhawk versions are coming…right?).
The rest of the exterior is a nice update from the previous WK generation. You can see the overall profile along the side stayed fairly similar but it’s sleek and modern looking and should hopefully age pretty well.
Inside is a massive step up for the JGC. While I came away pretty impressed with my 2015 Altitude, over time you noticed how some of the materials weren’t quite as upscale as they appeared. Stellantis has been clearly focusing on interior fit and finish and, ideally, it’s paying dividends when buyers sit in an updated product. I really like the placement of the screen, Jeep managed to not fall into the “iPad glued to a dash” look that so many new cars I test end up with. The screen sits high enough in the dash to easily be seen (wonder if screens ever say “I feel seen”) and low enough to look nicely integrated. the UConnect infotainment system is still one of the best in the business, easy to use and customizable so you can have the “buttons” you use the most easily at hand. It made me wish I could add the hatch opening button to the front screen of my Mach-E like that.
Speaking of screens, the Trailhawk has one for the passenger too! I thought it might be a little gimmicky but it’s the perfect addition for your significant other who likes to control everything. It has similar features to what you’ll find in the Uconnect touchscreen, such as changing the radio or media device, showing camera feed(s), controlling rear seat entertainment (if equipped) and even sending navigation directions to the driver’s display.
So, it’s perfect for side-seat driving, maybe Jeep should add the option for a speed limiter or allow the passenger to send messages critiquing the driver’s performance.
The new JGC is about an inch wider, as well as a full 3.7-inches longer and 1.6-inches taller. That means more room inside, with 1.4 cubes of space behind the 2nd row and and more head, leg, and shoulder room in every measurable way. I found the Trailhawk to be a great daily driver over the course of the week it was in my care.
Out on the road, it’s a similar driving experience to the WK. The 293 horsepower engine pulls well on the highway, and even though the engine for 2022 has two less horsepower over the 2021 V6, it’s significantly lighter. A 2021 Trailhawk weighed in at 5,004 lbs. while the 2022 is a lithe 4,747 lbs. I did not get a chance to get it muddy, but I haven’t experienced many Jeeps with equipment like this that weren’t solid in all but the muck-filled trails.
The biggest question as a buyer should be, what do you want your Jeep Grand Cherokee to do? A base 4×4 Laredo is pretty well equipped and comes in at $12,000 less than the Trailhawk. If you just want the beefy exterior, an Altitude like I had with 4×4 capability is $7,200 cheaper than the Trailhawk. Even a 4×4 Grand Cherokee Limited is almost $5,600 less than the Trailhawk.
In the end, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is a really cool vehicle. However, the price difference means that you’ll really need to decide if the extra off-road focused equipment, and lack of third-row, is worth it. Or perhaps you just want the Trailhawk for mall crawling, and I can say for sure that it’ll make quick work of most curbs.