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2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk: The Refined, Luxurious Off-Roader

Jeep knows the type of people that buy its SUVs and has, for the last decade or so, catered its vehicles to those consumers. The Wrangler is the purpose-built off-roader with minimal convenience features, the Renegade offers the look of a Wrangler in a package that’s easier to drive, and the Cherokee is for people that want to go off-roading but don’t feel the need to shout about it at a company party. While there are plenty of Jeeps to choose from, without a shadow of a doubt, there’s no point in contesting the fact that the Grand Cherokee is the most important SUV in Jeep’s lineup.

Once the brand’s flagship SUV, the Grand Cherokee sees its position in the Jeep lineup come under question with the introduction of the Wagoneer models. Don’t be fooled. The all-new 2022 Grand Cherokee may not have the price tag to match the larger SUVs that bear the Wagoneer badge, but it brings a level of refinement and luxury that you won’t find in the majority of other Jeeps. It still retains the one quality that makes a Jeep a Jeep: being able to go anywhere.

Front end of 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk on a dirt trail.
Joel Patel/The Manual

People have been waiting for over a decade to see a new Grand Cherokee model come out. Jeep’s been slow to make changes, but it didn’t really need to be speedy. People are going to buy a Grand Cherokee because it’s truly one of a kind in the class. There are many other midsize SUVs to choose from, but there’s only one Jeep. And this Jeep, unlike the others, really does have it all. Luxury, off-roading capability, tech, interior space, and comfort. There’s a reason why the Grand Cherokee is so popular. Jeep took all of those qualities, doubled down on them and released the 2022 model.

Design and Interior

This may be a new Jeep, but you’re not going to mistake it for being anything else. It’s not a total departure from the old Grand Cherokee but more of a glow-up. Instead of shopping at Gap, the 2022 Grand Cherokee chooses to spend money at the Banana Republic. It looks great. Chunky and muscular in all the right places while having modern lighting. You’ll also find the requisite easter eggs throughout the body to Instagram about.

The Trailhawk trim you see here represents the angriest and most off-road ready of trims. It gains red tow hooks, large skid plates, Trailhawk decals, all-terrain tires, and 18-inch wheels. This is the only Grand Cherokee in the lineup to have a Trail Rated badge, so you know it means business.

Depending on how far up the Grand Cherokee ladder you want to go, the SUV can feel like a luxury option. Even the Trailhawk, which is positioned as an off-roader and placed in the middle of the lineup, can be fitted with features that will make you question whether you’re in a Jeep — as long as you’re willing to fork over the necessary funds.

The infotainment system is gorgeous, the digital instrument cluster has just the right amount of modes to scroll through, and the SUV just looks plush on the inside. There are one too many buttons on the center console and the closer you look at the materials, the worse they start to feel, but the Grand Cherokee continues to feel like a bridge between the mainstream world and upscale options. Of course, the two-row SUV offers an enormous amount of interior space and plenty of cargo space for gear.

Driving Experience

The Trailhawk means business. With air suspension, Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system, a disconnecting sway bar, up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance, a water fording depth of up to two feet, and knobby tires, you’ll have trouble finding terrain that the Trailhawk can’t conquer. That dirt path behind your house or by your favorite hiking trail is child’s play. Forget about having to engage one of the SUV’s four drive modes, raising the suspension, or engaging 4WD Low. Seriously, this Jeep is more than capable enough for 95% of its buyers. The other 5% would probably be better off with the Wrangler.

Under the hood, the 2022 Grand Cherokee continues to come with the same 3.6-liter V6 engine as the previous model. The V6 is a fine engine, providing enough grunt for daily tasks and hustling the SUV up to highway speeds. There’s 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque on tap, which is nowhere close to the available 5.7-liter V8 engine’s oomph, but that’s an extra $3,795. The V6 guzzles fuel like a V8, though, averaging 11.3 mpg in our week with the vehicle in mostly city driving. With current gas prices, you’ll want to reconsider the move up to the V8 and look into the available plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Quiet and refined, even the Trailhawk offers a far better ride than the majority of other Jeeps. The issue is that all of the off-roading goodies result in a ride that’s jarring on roads with constant imperfections. The ride evens out on roads that are smooth and turns into a capable highway cruiser, but you’ll feel those potholes. For the level of off-roading capability you get, we think this is an understandable trade-off. Being honest about your off-roading needs is a good way to see if you need to compromise road comfort for those annual trail runs.

Should You Get One?

Yes. The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee is so good that it’ll turn someone who doesn’t like Jeeps into a Jeep fan. It does everything one expects from a Jeep but doesn’t go too overboard. On the whole, it’s always about off-roading philosophy. The new Grand Cherokee is (not including the Wagoneers) the best Jeep for non-Jeep people. It’s also the best Jeep that Jeep sells.

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Joel Patel
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Joel Patel is a Northern Virginia native that became enamored with cars at a young age when he was tasked with holding the…
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