Are you a purist, or do you subscribe to the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it club? If this sounds like you, chances are you’re not pleased about Jeep’s decision to overhaul the best-selling Grand Cherokee. It’s not surprising that the automaker waited 10 years to tinker with the beloved family favorite, but alas, the outgoing WK generation is in its final death throes, and the industry has moved on to the redesigned WL. But for the purists, all is not lost––you can still find a 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee WK.
Jeep’s website is filled with accolades for its flagship SUV, naming it “The Most Awarded SUV Ever,” and the aging SUV earned an 8/10 rating from the editors at Car and Driver in 2021, the last official production year before the arrival of its replacement. The 2022 Grand Cherokee WK continues this legacy of success because it’s virtually unchanged from the previous model year. Carryover models are often a deal-killer for buyers but not for fans of the Grand Cherokee.
The Grand Cherokee WK enjoyed evergreen appeal for its 10-plus year run. In the vast vanilla SUV landscape, the Grand Cherokee was always a bright spot. It’s pretty and different––a standout, even before you consider its off-road capability and high-performance variants. It’s hard to see it go, but in the twilight of its life, there’s still time to call it your own.
Grand Cherokee WK Trim Overview
Jeep drove would-be buyers nuts for years with its overstuffed 10-plus trim GC lineup. Buyers lost track of the flurry of special editions and sub-trims, and some simply entered a state of decision fatigue. For that reason, it’s kind of refreshing to see a mere three trims in the 2022 Grand Cherokee lineup. Still, Jeep’s decision to use the same name twice and tack on a letter to distinguish them has us scratching our heads.
First comes the least expensive trim, the Laredo E, and then the mid-range trim, the Laredo X. Why? We don’t know, especially with so many great nameplates to pick from, like Overland, Altitude, or Upland. Heck, Jeep could’ve come up with a whole new name. Our vote – the Legacy. At the top of the lineup sits the Limited, familiar to Grand Cherokee super fans as the fanciest and most fully-loaded version. Prices range from the high $30,000s to the high $40,000s, the latter of which is a lot more affordable than a fully loaded redesigned Grand Cherokee WL.
Exterior paint options are limited to four––white, black, gray, or red––which is no big sacrifice since these are the best and most popular Grand Cherokee colors. As for standard equipment, it follows a similar graduated theme with a few pleasant exceptions. All trims receive Jeep’s 8.4-inch touchscreen with connected navigation and smartphone connectivity, which was likely a decision of convenience rather than a perk for budget buyers. Ditto on the ProTech I driver-assist safety suite, which is upgradable to a more robust system regardless of trim.
Grand Cherokee WK Mechanical Specs
The 2022 Grand Cherokee’s stripped-down three-trim lineup still includes rear-wheel drive and 4×4 drivetrain options and opportunities to trick out the cabin, but you’re limited to a single engine option: Jeep’s 290-horsepower Pentastar V6, which is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s still plenty of power to achieve a 6,200-pound max tow rating, so if you’re hauling the boat to your lake house all summer, the WK will be up to the task without a hitch (get it?). The dearth of powertrain options stinks, but it’s not unexpected.
The Pentastar engine was likely chosen because it’s a workhorse. Dependable as ever, the power plant uses its dual overhead cam architecture and high-flow intake and exhaust ports for a nice balance between performance and fuel economy. It’s also recent enough to have variable valve timing and, at the time of its launch, boasted a 38 percent increase in power and an 11 percent decrease in fuel consumption, compared to Jeep’s old 3.7L V6. A tweak in 2016 reduced fuel consumption by another 2.7 percent.
If you do plan to tow, add the Trailer-Tow Group IV package to your build. The package contains everything you need to safely hook up your trailer, including a Class IV hitch, 7/4 pin wiring harness, rear load-leveling suspension, and more. Otherwise, the only decision you’re left with is whether to opt for a 4×4 powertrain. The difference is not that great financially, and let’s face it––the Grand Cherokee is at its most iconic with four-wheel drive capability.
Packages and More Nomenclature Confusion
Just when you thought speccing your 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee WK would be easy, Jeep decides to throw in a few curveballs. Curveball number one comes in the form of a mid-range Laredo X trim option. Once a high-end luxury GC trim, the Altitude is now reduced to that lowest denominator of add-ons, the appearance package. Outfitting the Laredo X with the Altitude Appearance Package adds 20-inch wheels and a zillion exterior trim accents, most of which are body-color or gloss black. It works best with white exterior paint.
Unfortunately, Jeep’s package logic creates trim overlap, particularly between the two Laredos. If you select the base Laredo E and add the Security and Convenience Group, you’ll get the power liftgate, remote start system, and heated seats/steering wheel that are all standard on the Laredo X. Before you decide, grab a pencil, some scratch paper, and a calculator, and do the math. Keep in mind, though, that availability may be spotty. By all means, make a wish list, but don’t be surprised if you’re forced to custom order your dream car rather than just pick it up off the dealer lot.
One clear upsell that’s worth the extra cost is Jeep’s ProTech II driver-assist upgrade. Here’s hoping the factory builds it into the majority of its run, but if you have a choice, go for a Grand Cherokee that has it. ProTech II adds Automatic High Beams, which alone is worth the upgrade, but you’ll also get more advanced versions of the collision alert and automatic braking systems, as well as a more sensitive lane departure sensor. It’s as close as you’ll get to the new generation’s more advanced semi-autonomous technology.
It’s Not Over Yet
The Grand Cherokee WK received a stay of execution from Jeep, a worthy send-off for a model that kept hearts fluttering and aspirational buyers dreaming for over 10 years. Thanks to good bones and timeless architecture, it aged like a Hollywood star. The legendary WK set the standard for premium SUVs. If there was an automotive Hall of Fame, it would surely be voted in unanimously. Still, if you do a little detective work on Jeep’s Grand Cherokee WK product page, you’ll find the company now refers to it as a “classic” SUV. Sigh.
One thing the old version can’t offer is a third row, so it’s not surprising that Jeep is moving on to the expanded, redesigned lineup. That Jeep is offering the outgoing model again for 2022 is rather extraordinary. It’s a testament to the Grand Cherokee’s lingering appeal and will no doubt prove a savvy business decision. It’s too bad Jeep’s marketing team didn’t pull the trigger on a special edition to end the WK’s run with a bang (free advice: call it the Grand Cherokee Legacy), but that won’t stop buyers from scooping up what’s left of the Grand Cherokee’s golden era.