The Grand Cherokee’s off-road credentials are pretty impressive, as you’d expect. There’s air suspension as standard with five different height settings and up to 275mm of ground clearance. Its maximum approach angle is 28.2deg, breakover angle 20.9deg and departure angle 30deg – similar to the Discovery.
Jeep has a trail rating for its cars: the three-door Wrangler scores the maximum 10, the Grand Cherokee six or seven, depending on the variant. It’s also a reasonable tow car, with a maximum braked trailer load of 2.2 tonnes (2.3 tonnes for a drawbar trailer), but the Range Rover Sport PHEV and Mercedes GLE PHEV will both tow usefully more.
Off road, it’s terrific. The lovely thing is that you can stick it in EV mode and do all your driving that way. Because the motor is on the gearbox side of the clutch, it pulls off incredibly smoothly and without hesitation, plus with all of its available torque from rest.
And as with most proper 4x4s, you will probably run out of bravery – especially at this price – before it runs out of ability. I had it on a side slope showing more than 30deg, and if there wasn’t a Jeep bod on standby telling me that was fine, I would have convinced myself it was going to tip over. In other words, a winter shoot or the average horse yard treacherousness are things that the Grand Cherokee will cope with just fine.
The PHEV powertrain is similar to the one that we tested in the Jeep Wrangler. It’s a complex system that involves a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine making 270bhp and 295lb ft, two electric motors and a fairly generous battery pack.
The main motor is a 134bhp, 195lb ft unit mounted within the eight-speed automatic gearbox, between the clutch plates and the gears. This is what drives the car when you select EV mode and allows gearchanges and swapping into the low set of ratios just as if you were driving on petrol.
Then there’s a 48V integrated starter-generator on the front of the engine, making 39bhp and 44lb ft. It’s available to boost low-end torque but primarily to start and stop the petrol engine and charge the battery when the car is stationary and in gear – which would otherwise be possible only in neutral, because there’s a multi-plate clutch rather than a torque converter.
Performance is strong. With total outputs of 375bhp and 470lb ft and the main electric motor pitching in from rest, the 0-62mph time is just 6.3sec. Sometimes, though, the motor and petrol engine take a moment to decide who’s doing what, so the latter will spin up audibly, and sometimes on back roads it’s preferable – and not unsatisfying – to take control of the gears yourself.
If you do go for a full-on burst of acceleration, you can expect fairly coarse engine noise too. It’s not a powertrain that really rewards hard use, feeling clunkier and less happy the harder you use it. It’s all about the relaxed cruise in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and for such a galumphing great SUV, that’s really what it should be for anyway.