Columnists

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Is Old School Cool, New Tech Lush

If you want a classic Jeep Grand Wagoneer circa 1990, expect to pay $80,000 for one in collectible condition. They tend to last forever and still cut a swath at Friday night football games, but that’s a lot of money for an old-school SUV. If what you really want is the style of the old Grand Wagoneer, but with today’s tech and lux, consider a 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve.

You’ll want the L edition, which means an extended wheelbase and roomy third-row seating for family and friends. This is the first time the Grand Cherokee has been available with the extra seat and it’s far better for it. This one fits real adults behind middle-row captain’s chairs with individual automatic climate controls, heated and ventilated cushions plus a panoramic roof above. A large center console is perfect for storing electronics and beverages.

Curbside, you might have noticed a little additional length, which only makes the restyled Grand Cherokee more imposing. In classic Detroit tradition, the new model is longer, lower, and wider than the model it replaces to improve handling and interior space. You’ll mistake the latest Grand Cherokee for nothing other than a Jeep with its trademark seven-slot grille, LED projector headlamps, elegant roof pillars, and chiseled sides. A slight prow to the hood and 21” wheels add purpose. I kinda wish stylists hadn’t skipped the woodgrain.

Back inside, front passengers posh out in heated and ventilated diamond-stitched leather seats, adding a back massager and heated steering wheel for the driver. Face a dashboard with stitched coverings, carved woodgrain panels, and intuitive touchscreen that seemingly waterfalls over the center console. A weighty metal gear selector and 950w McIntosh audio system drench occupants with élan.

Devices connect through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot, and wireless charging pad, but there’s a full suite of safety tech too. It starts with emergency auto braking, lane keep assist, and rear cross path detection, and extending to adaptive cruise with lane centering, digital rearview camera, and night vision with animal/pedestrian detection. There was no danger of leaving my daughter behind given a rear seat child reminder.

Jeep offers an optional 359 horsepower V8 in the Grand Cherokee, but I prefer our vehicle’s 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 293 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s still nearly double the output of the classic Grand Wagoneer’s V8. Even better, power is shifted through a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission that enables 18/25-MPG city/highway (about 10-MPG better than the old wagon). Tow up to 6,200 lbs. of camper, boat, or…classic truck.

Underpinning the Grand Cherokee is a stretched version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s platform, which imbues a lighter, more athletic feel than the last generation’s Mercedes-derived architecture. In case you’re worried this Italianized Jeep might eschew the brand’s hard-core reputation, know it comes with the Quadra-trac II four-wheel-drive with low range capability. An air suspension coddles passengers with a comfortable ride, but also raises up to clear obstacles on-trail.

If you have the craving and bank account for a Jeep Grand Wagoneer, by all means get one. They are eternally cool. However, you can also acquire a far superior vehicle for significantly less money…even if it doesn’t have woodgrain bodysides. Long-wheelbase Grand Cherokees start at $39,220, but came to $67,090 as tested. Competitors includes the Subaru Ascent, GMC Yukon, Kia Telluride, and Ford Explorer.

Storm Forward!

– Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.