A luxurious plug-in hybrid might not seem like the typical Jeep recipe, but the Grand Cherokee 4xe manages to put up a competitive offering on both fronts, although it comes at quite a cost.

It seems virtually every car company is making a push upmarket these days, and likewise, electrification is a clear focus for most car companies as well. Jeep has managed to hit the proverbial two birds with one stone when it comes to the latest version of its new Grand Cherokee by launching the Summit Reserve 4xe – the brand’s first plug-in hybrid to be sold in Australia.

At the price of $129,950 before on-road costs, it’s also one of the most expensive Jeep models ever, with only the previous-gen Trackhawk coming in at a steeper price when new. However, where the mission statement for the Trackhawk was outright power, this 4xe model is about blending a dash of that performance with efficiency, luxury, and refinement.

Having previously taken a look at the seven-seat Grand Cherokee L in the same Summit Reserve trim, there are plenty of similarities between that and this five-seat model, although a unique front bumper design, unique 21-inch alloy wheels, and a two-tone paint scheme with a black roof do set this 4xe PHEV variant apart.

I’ve been a big fan of the Grand Cherokee’s styling, particularly the longer L model, but this Summit Reserve 4xe still very much looks the part. It’s definitely a classy-looking bus, although I’m still not convinced that the looks are quite up to its price point entirely. Do keep in mind that its cost puts it right up against the likes of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, along with the more off-road focused Toyota LandCruiser 300 and ageing Nissan Patrol.

Likewise, the interior both does and doesn’t justify that hefty price tag. Certainly, Jeep has had a good crack at lifting it to the level of its European competitors, as almost every surface you touch has been wrapped in supple leather – even down to the airbag cover on the steering wheel. There’s also plenty in the way of comfort features, too, with an impressive massage function for the front seats, seat heating and ventilation for those in both rows, and four-zone climate control.

There’s also plenty in the way of technology if you option the $5500 Advanced Technology Group, which adds a night vision camera, head-up display, wireless phone charger, and a touchscreen ahead of the front passenger which has an HDMI input for watching movies, and is polarised so the driver can’t see it. Mind you, I think the HUD and wireless phone charging should really be standard on a vehicle this price.

Beyond the passenger screen, there’s also a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster ahead of the driver, along with a 10.1-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard which runs Stellantis’ slick Uconnect 5 operating system, bringing with it wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also an impressive 19-speaker McIntosh audio system with a 950W amplifier which is top-notch. It also includes an Active Noise Control system to keep the cabin serene.

Although the regular Grand Cherokee features a 127mm shorter wheelbase than the seven-seat L model, there’s still acres of room for both front and rear occupants in this regular model. Naturally, there are blinds integrated into the door for keeping out the glare of the sun, but the panoramic sunroof ensures it doesn’t feel at all claustrophobic in the back. Plus, the individual climate zones and seat heating and cooling will keep passengers sufficiently happy.

As there’s no third row, the boot is absolutely huge, with a whopping 1067 litres of space behind the second row, expanding to 2004 litres with the rear seats folded flat. Do note, though that the 4xe model tips the scales at a portly 2536kg, meaning you’ll need to be conscious of its 3110kg GVM rating.

When it comes to the 4xe’s plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the numbers all look pretty attractive on paper. At the heart of it is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine which chips in 200kW at 5250rpm and 400Nm at 3000rpm, while with the assistance of its electric motor factored in, the combined output is a more impressive 280kW power output with a standout 637Nm of torque on offer. Jeep doesn’t claim a 0-100km/h sprint time, but expect it to be in the mid five-second range.

The electric motor is fed by a 17.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack good for 52km of pure electric driving, while its power plant is backed by an eight-speed ZF automatic and Jeep’s Quadra-Track II 4×4 system which features a dual-range transfer case and specific Selec-Terrain off-road driving modes.

Right off the bat, this drivetrain feels super torquey as the numbers suggest, with the electric motor giving it some good off-the-line punch to mitigate the petrol engine’s relatively high torque peak. Although you can sense the odd transition between the two methods of power delivery, the system is very smooth for the most part. It’s also easy to select whether you want petrol power, electric, or both thanks to the handy buttons for each to the right of the steering wheel.

In city traffic, relying on electric power alone is easy, and while there’s not much electric range to work with relatively speaking, I found it was more than enough for me to commute into the city on the freeway relying on the petrol engine, using only the electric around town, and heading back home with the petrol engine fired up again. Mind you, it would offer more flexibility if there was even just an extra 10km to work with. If you live in the city, though, it will be perfectly adequate.

Thanks to its air suspension system – which offers five different height settings – the ride quality manages to be quite plush while also remaining fairly composed through the corners despite the big Jeep’s hefty weight. The steering has a decent amount of weight to it as well, although it does feel a little bit artificial.

While it’s most likely that the majority of these will end up staying on city streets, this is still a Jeep, so it does actually offer a considerable leg-up over its competition when it comes to off-road ability. The 21-inch wheels may not be ideal for this purpose, but with the air suspension in its highest setting, there’s an impressive 276mm ground clearance on offer, paired with a 610mm maximum wading depth. Lest not forget, there’s low-range gearing at hand, too.

Now, it’s not going to rival a Wrangler for how deep into the bush it’ll go – especially considering the plastic bumpers and side skirts which displayed some love marks from previous off-road adventures this car had been on – but it’ll handle more than the average person will ever throw at it. Through some muddy ruts, it felt tractable and confident, with the low-speed torque of the electric motors being particularly handy in comparison to the top-heavy atmo V6 fitted to other Grand Cherokee variants. On higher-speed gravel tracks, the ride quality could be a little bit smoother, but it still feels confident.

When you consider how few SUVs in this class are built with any real off-roading in mind, it makes sense that this Jeep is the one that does prioritise it and manage to deliver a confident amount of ability in this regard. Even more impressive is the plug-in hybrid arguably being the better powertrain for this purpose, in my opinion, given its more potent and accessible torque.

Not all is quite as impressive as promised, however, with the fuel economy being the chief culprit. While Jeep claims consumption of just 3.2L/100km according to ADR testing, this is a figure you’ll be unlikely to see unless you drive exclusively in the city in ideal conditions. You could almost consider this low a figure as a quirk of the official testing protocol. Over the course of my 647km of testing, 7.9L/100km was the best I could manage. Mind you, it will accept cheaper 91 RON fuel.

Additionally, the battery is painfully slow to recharge using the three-pin charger supplied with the car. Expect it to take over eight hours to fully top up using it, although with a 7kW wall box or public Type 2 charger it should take just over two hours.

At least servicing is cheap, with the first five visits to the dealership capped at $399 each. Servicing is required every 12 months/12,000km which is on the shorter side for distance. Jeep does also cover the Grand Cherokee with a five-year warranty, although that’s capped at 100,000km which is on the low side, and particularly for a brand based around building vehicles for adventuring.

Although there may be some practical drawbacks, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is a very impressive vehicle in my estimation. It may have a sky-high price tag and use significantly more fuel than advertised, but it also delivers big on power, technology, and interior space. Its luxurious fittings and slick styling do help justify that price tag, too.

While its German competition may garner more attention and sales, and likewise for the big Japanese off-roaders, for those after a bit more off-road ability without the need for live axles or an even more expensive Range Rover, the Jeep confidently occupies its own niche.

2024 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4xe List Price: $129,950 | As Tested: $137,200
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Ride & Handling - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Tech & Features - 9/10
  • 8.5/10
    Practicality - 8.5/10
  • 6/10
    Value for Money - 6/10

Pros: Torquey powertrain, high-quality interior with plenty of luxurious features, upmarket styling, decent off-road ability compared to its Euro rivals
Cons: Doesn’t deliver anywhere near the promised fuel economy, could do with a little bit more electric-only range, hefty price tag, short warranty distance

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Jeep Australia for one week with a full tank of fuel.

Patrick Jackson
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