2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee First Drive: Unibody Towing Perfected

I recently traveled to Moab, Utah to test the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee in its traditional two-row form. As you may know, the next generation Grand Cherokee debuted earlier this year in the “L” form, serving as the first GC with a third row of seats, and it has been remarkably successful. That launch is being followed-up by the arrival of the two-row models, which we tested in Moab as few weeks back.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Towing

We drove all over Moab, logging many miles in some of the most scenic locations I have ever visited, followed by doing some serious off-roading in the hills around the well-known tourist town. We will talk more about that full driving experience later on, but I wanted to start by talking about the towing ability of the new two-row Grand Cherokee. That might seem like an odd place to start, but this new Jeep has fixed an issue that every other unibody SUV exhibits when towing and for that reason, I wanted to highlight this area.

Jeep Pulling a Jeep

The 1941 Willys Jeep military vehicle weighs around 2,500 pounds while the Big Tex 60EC trailer weighs around 1,800 pounds for a working weight of around 4,300 pounds. That is well below the 7,200-pound towing capacity of this Hemi-powered SUV, but with most vehicles of this size pulling smaller trailers such as those for watercraft, horses or other utility trailers, the original Jeep makes for a good average load size. Plus, I am not sure if there is a cooler trailer testing load for a brand new Jeep than the very first Jeep. In fact, while pulling this piece of history around Moab , two Jeep owners flagged me down for a look at the antique and the new model.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Towing

In any case, the test weight of 4,300 pounds is right in the area of the average trailer load for a unibody SUV like the new Grand Cherokee. I have tested many unibody SUVs in this size range, including the last generation Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and the Ford Explorer, and I always have the same complaint. On every SUV with which I have pulled a trailer, every little movement by the trailer assembly echoes through the cabin. At speed, you can hear every bump that a trailer tire hits and when moving around in tight quarters, you can distinctly hear the hitch turning on the ball. Of course, this isn’t the end of the world and it is something that you become accustomed to after some time, but it is still annoying.

There is none of that with the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee. As soon as I made the tight right turn out of the parking lot with the 1941 Willys in tow, I noticed that there was no sound of the ball turning in the hitch cup. It was so quiet that after a few miles of driving through downtown Moab, I stopped to see if there was some unusual hitch assembly that was preventing the sound, but there was not. Unlike every other unibody SUV on the market, the Grand Cherokee doesn’t transfer all of that trailer sound into the cabin, alleviating my biggest complaint when towing with the past Grand Cherokee.

Upon returning to the starting point of the towing tests, I spoke with Jeep engineer Tom Seel, who explained that it was no coincidence that the 2022 Grand Cherokee pulls a trailer so quietly. With this new generation of the Grand Cherokee, the hitch receiver is better integrated into the chassis of the vehicle, so along with other road noise, any sounds created by the trailer are muted before they get to the cabin. It really makes towing much more pleasant, as in some cases, the sound inside compared to a body-on-frame truck is extreme whereas in this Jeep, that sound is nonexistent.

I have logged thousands of miles testing with a trailer over the past decade and the trailer noise in unibody vehicles has always bothered me. Jeep has finally silenced the trailer noise with the new Grand Cherokee.

Hemi Power in Action

Our 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee test vehicle for the towing portion was powered by the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, delivering 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque with the help of an 8-speed automatic transmission and an advanced four-wheel-drive system. All of that Hemi power made pulling the antique Army Jeep a breeze, whether accelerating from a stop or building speed through the mid-range, as when in a passing situation on the highway. Really, that relatively light load had little impact on the new Grand Cherokee in terms of acceleration and to get up to the speed limit in downtown Moab, I didn’t have to use a whole lot of throttle.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Towing

We didn’t take the Grand Cherokee with the antique Jeep and trailer onto any of the twisty roads, but on the open highway, the new two-row handled the weight flawlessly, even with some heavy crosswinds. Around town, the new, slightly larger Grand Cherokee comfortably weaved through the tight streets and parking lots with the trailer in tow. With roughly 80% of last generation Grand Cherokee owners ordering the towing package, towing is obviously important to buyers and this new generation model really tows beautifully.

If you are shopping for a new SUV to tow a trailer, the new 2022 Grand Cherokee is the best option on the market today. When you add in the loaded cabin, this new Jeep is the perfect vehicle to tow a horse trailer to a show or a boat to the lake, with a load of friends or family riding in the lap of luxury.

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