Jeep Looks to Challenge Toyota’s Dominance Down Under with the Grand Cherokee 4xe

Photo By: Stellantis

Few people hear “Australia” and immediately think “Jeep.” In terms of overland vehicles in Australia, our parents’ generation probably thought of Land Rover. These days we’re more likely to think of Nissan and, even more so, Toyota. Jeep plans to change that and isn’t above a little friendly trash-talking as they target the 800 lb. gorilla that is Toyota in Australia. When releasing the new Grand Cherokee 4xe for the Australian market, Jeff Ellsworth, Head of Global Jeep Marketing, remarked, “I’m biased for sure [but] we’re better off-road.” “When it comes to rock crawling, Toyota can’t do what we do.”

To be fair, the comments were couched with respect for what Toyota has accomplished, so trash-talking might be a little bit of a stretch, but I can’t help but think of a young Cassius Clay verbally sparring with the seemingly unbeatable Sonny Liston. We all know how that turned out. The question is, is this more Ali versus Liston or David Haye versus Klitschko? Time will tell, but Jeep seems to be headed in the right direction with the Grand Cherokee 4xe, especially in its Trailhawk trim.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe | Photo by Stellantis Media

Before I extol the virtues of the new Jeep, I can’t help but point out that it’s more than a little ironic that Jeep chose the Grand Cherokee 4Xe release to make these particular comments since it’s probably the most Toyota SUV-esque vehicle in their lineup. I’ll dig that hole a little deeper and point out that as a plug-in hybrid, the 4xe has more than a little in common with a Prius.

Now that the Jeep fans have their pitchforks sharpened and their torches lit, let’s look at what might make this vehicle great. Like so many Jeeps before it, the vehicle was tested on the Rubicon Trail, and it was done in electric mode, no less. Given the state of that trail these days, there may have been some rock stacking and maybe a little body damage involved, but it’s an impressive feat for any production vehicle, especially one that can seat five adults this comfortably. If it can traverse the Rubicon, it’s likely to manage almost anything the Australian outback can throw at it as well as most domestic overland adventures.

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The Trailhawk comes equipped with Jeep’s Quadra Trac II 4×4 system that offers a 47.4:1 crawl ratio, a 2.72:1 low range, and a rear electronic limited-slip differential. The new air suspension system is an electronic, semi-active damping design dubbed the “Quadra-Lift” that automatically changes the shock response based on road conditions and can be mechanically overridden by the driver and set at five different ride heights. The suspension offers an impressive 11.3 inches of ground clearance (take that Toyota and your paltry 8.6 inches of clearance!). Add an electronic sway bar disconnect, a Selec-Terrain system, a host of electronic traction aids, and improved approach and departure angles of the previous generation, and you are onto something.

Yes, in the US at least, you will still be able to get the Grand Cherokee with a 5.7L Hemi V8. With however many miles to the gallon that engine gets, and with gas headed to double digits per gallon, our guess is that the new plug-in hybrid electric 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine will turn out to be very popular with the crowd looking to leave their driveway. Will the new engine sound as good? No. Will you have a smug sense of satisfaction driving past the gas station with your 708 kilometers of hybrid-electric range? Absolutely.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe | Photo by Stellantis Media

If that’s not enough for you, you can sleep better knowing that your Jeep four banger has 375 horsepower and 470 lb. ft. of torque. That’ll bring a smile to your face as you smoke that Prius off the line at the next stoplight.

Nice jab-jab-upper cut Jeep.

Photo by Brett Willhelm

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