2022 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE LIMITED – Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, on a Budget
2022 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE LIMITED
Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, on a Budget
Lahaina, Hawaii – It’s been a while since vacationing in Hawaii…our last trip was in 2008, and since then life (it would seem) had intervened. But when our daughter’s family was offered a house in Maui, while American Airlines continued to keep a few of our air miles, it was decided that now was the time and Lahaina was the place. All we needed was a rental car and – as it turned out – a 4-figure reserve for a week’s worth of dining. The rental, via Budget, was planned to be Toyota’s right-sized RAV4, but it was instead Jeep’s Grand Cherokee occupying our reserved parking spot at OGG. With a fresh stance and silver finish, the Limited trim looked like an upsized upgrade, and given the amount of gear – checked and unchecked – for a week of vacation, its cargo volume would prove to be handy.
As regular readers might remember, we’ve enjoyed 25 years of continuous association with the Grand Cherokee brand; our ownership began with a ’98 Grand Cherokee Laredo. After selling that to our son in 2006, we acquired a new Grand Cherokee Limited, which – with almost 125K miles – we still have. (And if the a/c was blowing cold this week, at the onset of summer weather, we’d continue to enjoy.)
Our ’06 Grand Cherokee, with its Limited trim and optional 5.7 liter Hemi powertrain, gives us the space that we need and the pace we want; that pace, of course, comes with a fuel economy penalty, which isn’t felt when sitting on the driveway, but is on those days we take our grandson to his school, a 45-mile roundtrip. At roughly 13 miles per gallon, that’s almost four gallons of regular unleaded, or $15 for each school run. Obviously, you can fill a lot of gas tanks for the $40K (plus!) it will cost to trade the ’06 for a ’23 GC, but better efficiency – from somebody! – is very much on our radar.
With the rental from Budget we were about to enjoy better economy. The Limited trim is the midpoint in today’s Grand Cherokee lineup. The base Laredo in 4X4 trim is around $42K, the Altitude is roughly $46K and the Limited 4X4 is gonna’ push $50K; all of that’s approachable, unless you started buying Jeeps in 1998.
If prices have gone significantly higher, the Grand Cherokee has also grown significantly bigger. Our ’98 GC stretched 177 inches on a wheelbase of 106 inches, was just 71 inches wide and weighed 3,800 pounds. Twenty-five years later our rented Grand Cherokee is 193 inches long on a wheelbase of 116 inches, and is a full six inches wider; if parking spots seem smaller it’s at least in part because today’s Grand Cherokee is substantially larger. The sweetspot would seem to be our ’06, and that’s demonstrated by day-in, day-out driving. Our ’06 is more point-and-shoot, while the newest one – at least on vacation – finds its way, but seems less precise.
The walk-up, however, is impressive. There’s a Jeepness to the Grand Cherokee that speaks to the brand’s heritage and history, without being obsessively retro. The bodywork remains slab-sided, the windshield reasonably vertical and the glass area generous. And the wheel/tire combo – even with the Limited’s 18-inches of wheel and tire – fills the wheelwells as you’d hope they would; there’s nothing undersized here, and while the tire spec is most appropriate to streets or graded gravel, more offroad-specific rubber will allow you to drive more offroad-specific routes.
Inside, the all-black leather looked almost Germanic in its execution, which is absolutely brilliant if you like Germanic, less so if you’re cross-shopping Lexus or Cadillac. The buckets are relatively flat, which is perfect for getting in and out, less so if you’re taking the winding road to the Haleakala crater, some 10,000 feet above sea level. The only one firmly planted in his or her seat was our granddaughter Evelyn, who’s three; her child seat held her in place, but the pace going back down made her want to ‘spit’, a polite derivative of throw up. We stopped, she became more comfortable, and we grabbed a few pics of some extraordinary landscape.
If there’s an advantage in the 2022 when compared to our ’06, it’s the backseat leg and shoulder room, as it’s here where the additional seven inches of wheelbase and greater girth is seen and felt. In the ’06 our 10-year-old grandson Rhys feels cramped, and there was none of that when sitting in the back of the ’22. It’s genuinely spacious, and (at least in my mind) makes you wonder why anyone needs Jeep’s larger Wagoneer – other than Jeep’s money men.
On the road, I was surprised by the 3.6 liter’s responsiveness; in fact, 293 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque have rarely felt so healthy. This isn’t, to be sure, gonna’ pin you to the back of your seat, but acceleration is brisk, and highway speeds are maintained without complaint. Even in that climb to the crater and its 10,000 feet of elevation the V6 performed well, while the EPA rating of 19 City/26 Highway (compared to our 14 City/21 Highway) left a much-needed surplus for food.
We’re probably a year away from trading, and with an a/c fix I think the ’06 is worth keeping for its utility, perhaps using that trade difference for a more efficient sedan. But my wife assures me she’d rather have one vehicle capable of doing everything, and a ’24 Grand Cherokee might just be that vehicle. Given the same 16 years of ownership that we’ve enjoyed with our ’06, it might not only be our next Jeep – it could be our last Jeep.