All-new off-road SUV

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee: An icon, redesigned

The Grand Cherokee is all-new for 2022.

Jeep/Stellantis

Moab was once a sleepy western mining town. Today, it’s an increasingly-popular destination in an ever-growing region known for three things: its dramatic scenery beset by red-rock canyons, buttes and mesas, with stretches of wide-open backcountry and nearby national parks; for the hundreds of miles of off-road trails in the surrounding locale; and for the annual Moab Jeep Safari aka Easter Jeep Safari. Of note: not so long ago, four wheeling was sometimes called “jeeping” and many off-road vehicles of many different types were affectionately called “jeeps”, hence the name of this renowned event.

2022 Jeep Grand CherokeeSeveral trims and configurations are available.Jeep/Stellantis

It’s no surprise that Jeep, now a brand of Stellantis, has used this area with the ‘Jeep moniker’ for a number of new vehicle introductions; after all, this event turns this small town in eastern Utah into something akin to a spring-break beach party with festivities and fanfare for thousands of 4WD enthusiasts, automotive aftermarket companies and vehicle manufacturers. Jeep recently brought a posse of automotive evaluators to Moab in a quieter season to test out its all-new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was an ideal location to sample some offerings in the updated lineup, motoring on two-lane paved roadways, along dirt tracks and over a technical stretch of 4WD trail with somewhat extreme rock climbs and sidehill slopes.

Spawned from the smaller Jeep Cherokee, the original “Grand” made its debut in 1992 at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit, as a ’93 model slotting into the luxury SUV segment with a unibody chassis, when many other sport utility purveyors used body-on-frame construction. The first-generation Grand Cherokee came in three trims with one powertrain--a 4.0 liter engine that made 190 horsepower that was shifted by a 4-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission, and was available in either rear-wheel drive (RWD/2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).

2022 Jeep Grand CherokeeTop trims get luxurious finishes and materials inside. Jeep/Stellantis

Like Moab, the Grand Cherokee has grown up, changed in significant ways and appeals to an ever-growing audience. The fifth-generation version is Jeep’s global flagship and is not only more technologically-advanced with new styling inside and out, but also sports an all-new architecture, has more 4 x 4 capability, and is more luxury-laden than ever. Plus, there is a new electrified version, a new Trailhawk edition, 2 x 4 and 4 x 4 versions and three 4WD systems – Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II with some cutting edge-4WD technology. It’s powered by a choice of two engines: an all-aluminum 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is rated at 293 horsepower with 260 lb.-ft. of torque (assisted by an eTorque mild hybrid system), while a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 produces 357 /390; both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. (Overand and Summit versions powered by the V8 are offered with Jeep’s multiple displacement system). Gas-powered Grand Cherokees deliver fuel economy in a range between 17–21/14–19/22–26 mpg, depending on engine and drivetrain. The V-6 engine is rated for a towing capacity of up to 6,200 lbs. and an estimated class-leading driving range of more than 500 miles, while the V8 can tow up to 7,200 lbs.

The two-row 2022 Grand Cherokee comes in Laredo, Altitude, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve trims. It starts at $37,785 and is on sale now. The three-row Grand Cherokee L went on sale in June 2021with a wheelbase that is 6.9 in. longer than the previous generation two-row model, and 5 in. longer than the newest two-row counterpart; it is available in four trims: Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit. Available are eight-wheel options, with up to 21-inch diameter wheels offered for the first time.

The new 4xe propulsion system can be ordered on Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve model. It combines two electric motors, a 400-volt battery pack, a 2.0-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and gets the eight-speed automatic transmission. Overall, the 4xe system delivers 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. Jeeps says the Grand Cherokee 4xe will get an estimated 25 miles (40 km) of all-electric range, returns approximately 57 MPGe and has a projected total range of more than 440 miles. It will go on sale in the spring of 2022.

2022 Jeep Grand CherokeeThe 2022 Grand Cherokee gets Stellantis' latest Uconnect 5 infotainment software. Jeep/Stellantis

Looking at the newest models, you’ll notice more aerodynamic and sculpted styling with a greater amount of glass. While there is some differentiation between trims, all get an upgraded posher look. The front fascia has been redesigned and the seven-slot grille reworked while the roofline and beltline are lowered and tapered.

Inside is a greater level of high-end craftmanship and added upscale materials and features. Top-of-the-line Summit Reserve gets a Palermo leather interior and a 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, with 19 custom-designed speakers (including a 10-inch subwoofer), 950-watts of power and a 17-channel amplifier, for example. Available 16-way adjustable front seats have power lumbar and memory, while higher specification versions offer new front driver and passenger seatback massage; heated/vented seats are available for first two rows, with three-level configurable controls. The center console has updated switches and added storage in the front bin that can accommodate two wireless devices and a wireless charger. Standard on all trims is an all-new premium, full-suite of customizable LED lighting with daytime/night-time settings; ambient lighting with a five-color selection is available on Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve models.

Updates to Uconnect 5 bring impressive new technology, including a 10.1-inch display, five-times-faster operating speed and over-the-air updates. Segment-exclusive is a 10.25-in. front passenger interactive display and 10.1-in. rear seat entertainment display with Amazon Fire TV built-in. The new model is not only larger but has been designed with more versatility; there is 144.6 cu. ft. of interior passenger volume (4.1 cu. ft. more) and 37.7 cu. ft. of cargo space, and the rear cargo area can hold a set of golf clubs transversely.

Now onboard are more than 110 advanced safety and security features, including Active Driving Assist with hands-on automated driving, and available 360-degree surround view and night vision cameras. (See list below.)

We sampled both engines and four different trims. Our takeaways: Both engines move the Grand Cherokee well and provide ample and always-available torque for everyday driving and high-speed passing. The V8 engine has alacrity plus a potent engine sound when the throttle is pushed. We were impressed by the handling of all that show smooth driving manners, deriving from the eight-speed transmission that provides crisp gear changes and on-the-fly shift-map changes based on different driver’s styles and different terrain; as well as from the widened track and the independent front and rear suspension set-ups.

2022 Jeep Grand CherokeeAdvanced 4WD systems are available. Jeep/Stellantis

Our favorite foray was motoring the new Trailhawk on a rigorous and noted off-road trail with rock shelf and rugged,uneven terrain. All three 4WD systems (Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II) have a rear electronic limited slip-differential (eLSD) and are equipped with an active transfer case to improve traction by transferring torque to the wheel with the most grip; and, depending on trim, have Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system with five different terrain modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud/Sand). The Trailhawk goes a tall step beyond: standard are all-terrain tires; integrated off-road camera; Quadra-Lift air suspension with up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance; improved approach, departure and breakover angles and the Quadra-Drive II active transfer case. We disengaged the class-exclusive sway bar disconnect that gave us improved articulation and traction over the roughest terrain and used Selec-Speed Control that manages vehicle speed in 4LO by automatically applying engine torque and/or brake pressure to maintain a consistent and safe speed without requiring the driver to control the throttle or the brake. Of note, the speed can be regulated by the driver.

Trailhawk is also differentiated by high-strength steel skid plates; red tow hooks; 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires; a glare-proof black-and-red matte “Trailhawk” hood decal (also on the Trailhawk 4xe). Jeep says this “Trail Rated, nature approved” model has class-leading traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and increased water fording capability of up to 24 inches.

2022 Jeep Grand CherokeeThe Grand Cherokee makes an excellent road trip companion.Jeep/Stellantis

*Standard safety features across the line-up include: • Full-Speed Collision Warning with Active Braking and Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection • Rear Cross Path detection • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go • Active Lane Management • LaneSense Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist • Advanced Brake Assist • Blind-spot Monitoring • ParkView rear back-up camera • ParkSense rear park assist sensors with stop • Switch-activated electric park brake • Tire-pressure monitoring Additional available safety features include: • New Night Vision Camera with pedestrian and animal detection • New Intersection Collision Assist • New Drowsy Driver Detection system • Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist and new Traffic Sign Recognition • New 360-degree surround view camera system with front and rear washers New Active Driving Assist (L2) hands-on-wheel and eyes-on-road automated driving is also available.

*Notable Connectivity Features: Two Bluetooth-enabled phones can be paired simultaneously • Enhanced Amazon Alexa virtual assistant functionality • All-new Uconnect mobile app • SiriusXM 360L platform with personalized stations powered by Pandora • Tom-Tom navigation with predictive search, natural speech and live traffic updates • Maps over-the-air updates • 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot to connect up to eight devices. Available Fire TV allows passengers to stream videos, play games, listen to music, get information, and watch downloaded content. In-vehicle 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and the ability to watch downloaded Prime Video content without connectivity while on the road with 16 GB of included built-in storage for each rear display (9 GB of user available storage per rear display).

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New luxury EV

Lexus announces all-electric RZ 450e

Lexus just announced the new RZ 450e

Lexus

Lexus and Toyota have finally jumped onto the EV train, and we’ll soon see new all-electric SUVs from both. The Lexus variant, named RZ 450e, features a reasonable range, upscale interior, and neat all-wheel drive technology. We don’t have firm pricing for the Lexus, but expect it to start in the mid-to-high $40,000 range.

2023 Lexus RZRange is expected to reach 225 miles per chage. Lexus

The RZ shares a platform and much of its underlying engineering with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but will take a more upscale approach. Though its size and overall shape are similar to the others, the Lexus’ exterior styling is sharper and sportier, with functional aerodynamic bodywork. A new Lexus logo is spelled out on the rear gate, instead of the traditional “L” of previous models.

The SUV comes with a 71.4-kWh battery that should deliver a range of around 225 miles on a charge. All-wheel drive is standard, and uses the RZ’s dual electric motors to shift power between the wheels that need it most.

Inside, the RZ features a minimalist, open space with controls meant to remind drivers of a horse’s reins. Ultrasuede upholstery and woodgrain trim come standard. Lexus notes the RZ’s head-up display is controllable via steering wheel-mounted buttons that handle navigation, audio, and other functions.

2023 Lexus RZThough similar to the Toyota bZ4X inside, the Lexus IS more upscale and minimalist. Lexus

Speaking of the steering wheel, the first RZs will be available with a round wheel only, but later on, Lexus will offer a yoke-style wheel like the one seen in the Toyota bZ4X concept and Tesla’s Plaid models.

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Lincoln updated the flagship Navigator SUV for 2022.

Lincoln

Evie was smitten at first glance. If my ‘mini-me’ granddaughter who loves cars could have whistled through her teeth, I’m sure she would have. Eve Marion Judge, aka “Evie” was 7 when she first saw a Lincoln Navigator. It was clear that the exterior bling caught her ‘crow eyes’. The large and luscious grille. The bejeweled trim elements. The bulbous tires beset with wheels that twinkled. Paint that sparkled and invited a palm swipe. Evie was already a discriminating auto enthusiast who was in the habit of seeing a new car parked in my driveway each week. It wasn’t simply about things that glitter—for her, the rubber would meet the road when she climbed aboard her car seat and took stock of the second-seat passenger roominess and amenities. A monitor to access technology? Check! Window and illumination controls within easy reach-check. Her own climate and audio controls-double check!! And, now, the cherry on top: “how many of my friends can ride in here?”, she asked. “Seven riders total,” I said. “Fine, will you buy this for me when I get my driver’s license?! Now, this is my favorite car ever!

That was last year. I took Evie to the Chicago Auto Show recently. Now 8, she was already aware from some television commercials that the 2022 Lincoln Navigator had some upgrades and made a beeline to the updated Navigator on the show floor. She visited repeatedly during our time at the CAS and sampled the second-row massaging seats and learned how to use audio commands to obtain directions and other useful information. She was thrilled at the 10-inch rear screen that features live streaming provided by Fire TV. Her love interest held steady!

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe three-row Navigator shares quite a bit with the Ford Expedition underneath.Lincoln

I had the opportunity to drive the updated version of Lincoln’s crown jewel on a ride and drive program in Arizona recently and to speak with Lincoln engineers and designers. I was enamored with this full-sized luxury yacht that won the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury’s top award as the Car of the Year in 2018 and I share many of the same passion points as Evie. But, I too was looking forward to sampling what is new. Let’s take a closer look at the 2022 Navigator, plus a couple of new concepts that Lincoln has developed to stand apart in the ever-growing premium segment where the Navigator competes. Although Lincoln considers the Cadillac Escalade its only true rival, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Range Rover, BMW X7, and a couple of Mercedes vehicles sit in this class.

We started the day at the first Lincoln Boutique in the country, Sanderson Lincoln in Scottsdale. This new concept will give customers a unique experience by visiting an upscale, quiet space to have a latte and light snack as well as learn more about this luxury automaker that is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, plus have a new kind of dealership experience. The luxury automaker is also developing its new Lincoln Loyalty and Access Rewards programs that let buyers and lessees earn points redeemable for service, maintenance and purchases and also participate in “world class experiences”, such as the new pilot for a new Mobile Vehicle Spa Service!

While the 2022 Lincoln Navigator shares its mechanicals with the Ford Expedition, its sheet metal is unique from the front door forward and the flagship sport ute boasts a sumptuous cabin that is beset with exclusive, high-end materials and a lengthy list of standard comfort, convenience and technology features. New styling updates bring a refashioned grille and new exterior lighting elements. Interior enhancements include a new infotainment display with updated Sync 4 software, and two new Black Label design themes: Central Park sports a tasteful and clever laser-etched map of the park's pathways on the IP while Invitation adds an open-pore Kai wood trim with an overlayed geometric motif as well as black leather upholstery with brandy-colored stitching.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorLincoln fitted a new infotainment system for 2022. Lincoln

Also new is Active Glide, a hands-free, semi-autonomous driving mode, along with other updates that include improved massaging seats and an option for second-row massaging seats; new interior chimes and alerts recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; a larger 13.2-inch display; and an adaptive suspension that is programmed to react to a forward-facing camera to read bumps in the road and prepare the suspension to minimize impact and improve ride comfort.

The Navigator comes in a standard wheelbase or a “L” long wheel-based version and has seating for up to 7 or 8. It’s available with 2WD (rear-drive) or 4WD (AWD) and can tow up to 8,700 lbs. Trims include Navigator, Reserve, and Black Label. Pricing starts at $76,710 and tops out above $105,000.

I sampled different trims on a drive of close to 200 miles, with stretches of city traffic and twisting two-lanes that ascended to Payson, situated at an altitude above 5,000 ft. Slipping inside posh cockpits, my drive partner and I found supple leather, high-end wood trims, knurled metal knobs, 30-way power-adjustable front seats that make the Navigator easy to tailor for drivers and passengers of varying sizes. As a short-statured tester, I particularly appreciated the power-retracting running boards, adjustable pedals, and power-adjustable steering wheel and loved the heated/ventilated seats. I also liked the ease of access to the third-row seat and the overall comfort, roominess of the cabin, and the good stowage, with the third-row seat folded.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe Navigator offers great space across all three rows of seating.Lincoln

The Navigator is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and has quick acceleration with 440 hp and 510 ft.-lbs. of torque. The 10-speed tranny works seamlessly on up and down-shifting duties and aids in the fuel economy of this nearly 6.000-lb. SUV. Despite its heft weight and wheelbase, it drives more lightly on its feet than I imagined and has well-weighted steering and good brakes. We tried out the hands-free driving and found it reliable on the bustling freeways in the Phoenix environs.

The Navigator is set up to be a mobile technology hub with a standard 13.2-inch touchscreen, standard Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with standard over-the-air software updates. There are USB ports in every row and it is a rolling 5G Wi-Fi hotspot. Standard is a 14-speaker Revel stereo system, with an optional 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D system that also comes standard on uplevel trims and with the Luxury Package.

Standard safety features with Lincoln’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist technologies bring blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection among other features. Of note are adaptive projector headlights and active park assist 2.0.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorActive Glide, a new semi-autonomous driving assistant, is available for 2022. Lincoln

**EPA fuel economy ratings: rear-wheel-drive 17 city/ 23 mpg highway/ 19 combined; 4WD 16 city/22 highway/18 combined.

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