Upgrading from a compact to a mid-size SUV doesn’t need to accompany a third row. Small families and empty nesters who want a bit more versatility can enjoy a mid-size crossover’s cabin volume without the need to stow or store unused seats. There are several great options to choose from, but two particularly adventure-ready models include the 2022 Honda Passport and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Based on the stellar Honda Pilot, the two-row Passport gets a more rugged look for 2022 and a TrailSport trim with standout styling and standard all-wheel drive. The Jeep Grand Cherokee enters a new generation, building on its off-road capability and cabin refinement, while adding a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Which SUV should you choose?
Power + Fuel Economy
Like the Pilot, Honda’s Passport is powered exclusively by a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 280 horsepower. Buyers are given a choice of front-drive or all-wheel drive configurations with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Our 0 to 60 mph test clocked the Passport at a quick 6.8 seconds. AWD Passport models earn an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined (19 city/24 highway), and our 115-mile testing route averaged a rosier 22 mpg.
Jeep offers its Grand Cherokee with three powertrains: a standard V6, a potent V8, or a plug-in hybrid with 22 miles of all-electric range. V6-equipped models produce a healthy 293 horsepower, V8 versions churn out 357 hp, and PHEV variants make an impressive 375 hp. Rear-drive is standard on V6 derivatives, and four-wheel drive is available.
Our evaluation of the Grand Cherokee V8 4WD included a 0 to 60 mph run in under 6.5 seconds. This segment leading performance comes with a fuel economy penalty, however. The eight-cylinder model returns just 17 combined mpg. Jeep offers a better powertrain spread and more grunt, though the Passport’s standard engine and fuel economy hit a sweet spot. We rule this category a draw.
Comfort + Capability
The Passport offers ample head- and legroom for five adult passengers. Doors open wide to ease entry and exit, and seat comfort is excellent. Front seats are available with heating and ventilation, while rear seats are optionally heated and recline as standard. Ride quality is superb over small bumps and the cabin is well insulated from wind and road noise. Passports equipped with variable all-wheel drive include a torque vectoring rear axle to claw over obstacles that pass beneath the SUV’s 8.1 inches of ground clearance. Towing capacity is a stout 5,000 pounds.
The Grand Cherokee can’t match the Passport’s sheer interior volume, though adults fit comfortably in both rows. All seats can be equipped with heating and ventilation, and the rear row reclines. The ride is compliant over road imperfections, though wind and tire noise is higher than similarly priced SUVs.
Off-road, the Grand Cherokee impresses with available four-wheel drive, low range gears, and an air suspension that raises to 11.3 inches of ground clearance. There are few places this SUV can’t go, and with up to 7,200 pounds of available towing, there are few toys the Grand Cherokee can’t bring along. The Honda Passport is more spacious and comfortable, but the Grand Cherokee ties this one up with astounding capability.
Features + Value
Honda has eliminated the Sport trim for 2022, leaving the most popular EX-L trim as the Passport’s entry point. At $39,095, the EX-L includes desirable amenities like leather seating, heated front chairs, driver assistance technologies, and a power moonroof. Combined with exceptional material and build quality, these features solidify the Passport’s value.
Jeep casts a wide net with the Grand Cherokee’s options and pricing. At $40,120, the entry-level model is priced competitively, but lacks many standard features available elsewhere. Meanwhile, fully-loaded trims gain equipment competitors can’t match, but the Grand Cherokee’s price invades luxury vehicle territory (without justifiable build quality). The Passport doesn’t skimp on creature comforts and doesn’t inflate its price, earning a win.
The redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee packs elite amenities in a more capable package, but it can’t match the Honda Passport’s refined ride and high-value pricing. The 2022 Passport is our SUV of choice.