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AMERICA’S 2021 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE COULD HAVE ITALIAN BONES

The WL Jeep Grand Cherokee Could Be Radically Different From Before, But Skepticism Remains

Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been a massive success for Jeep, despite its age. The 10 year-old SUV saw its best year of sales ever in 2019 with 242,000 sales, and managed to sell 50,000 units already in 2020, despite the Coronavirus pandemic slowing sales. But 10 years old is still 10 years old. It’s confirmed by the end of the year, we will see a new WL Jeep Grand Cherokee. The details about it, however, are up for debate.

As Car and Driver reports, the next Grand Cherokee could ride on Alfa Romeo’s Giorgio platform. Problem here is that C&D has had a hard time getting things right since Don Sherman left. Although whatever shape it takes, it will definitely be built at the Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan.

With that in mind, let’s examine the possibilities.

There are two main directions the WL Jeep Grand Cherokee are expected to go. A major change will be an optional third row seat, as well as a “Grand Wagoneer” derivative that is rumored to offer Range Rover levels of interior refinement. A photo of what’s presumed to be a leaked interior of the all-new SUV gives us our first clue as to what we can expect.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior
An early look at the WL Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior.

 

Reports of FCA utilizing the Alfa Romeo Giorgio Platform for other brands, including Maserati, Dodge, and Jeep have circulated as far back as 2017. Early reports suggested eight products based on the architecture by 2020. Presently, being 2020, that’s far from the case.

The costs associated with scaling the Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform – which only underpins the athletic and well sculpted Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV at this time – could be the likely reason why we haven’t begun to see more vehicles on this architecture just yet. As such, utilizing the Giorgio platform could put the WL Jeep Grand Cherokee into a higher price bracket. Unless, of course, there’s a low-cost variant in the works with cheaper materials in mind. This is also rumored to be happening.

With FCA not being one to mess too much with success, Jeep could deliver a heavily updated Grand Cherokee on the current WK2 platform, which has roots in the LX platform.

Evolving the WK2 platform, as old as it is, would keep development costs down for a new vehicle, thus making the next Jeep Grand Cherokee theoretically in the same price bracket as the current one. Jeep will most likely continue to have multiple trim levels covering the entry level, off-road, luxury, and performance fields like the current model does.

Jeep Grand Cherokee
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

With this, we will probably see all current engine options carry over, but with the addition of hybridization with a new four cylinder model and with the Pentastar V6. It would also make it easy to carry over the SRT and Trackhawk models. We like our Hellcats and Hemi V8 engines, and FCA knows that. So unless the Giorgio platform is built with supercharged pushrod V8 motors in mind, it’s hard to see the automaker going forward with this plan. We can’t see the Ferrari-derived 90-degree twin-turbo V6 found in the Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio models leaving the Italian family of FCA brands; it’s too expensive, and too exotic.

Using the Giorgio platform would bring more drastic changes to the SUV. This platform currently underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover. In those cars, the wheelbase is 110.9 inches long. Given the current Grand Cherokee’s wheelbase is 114.7 inches, some significant engineering will be necessary to keep the size of the outgoing model, although the architecture can likely stretch and widen. Especially if it was planned to support so many vehicles.

So this leaves us with a bit of a mystery on the next Jeep Grand Cherokee. We know a new model is coming soon, it was supposed to be revealed at the now canceled Detroit Auto Show. But what’s underneath the new SUV will determine what path Jeep takes the new model in. Stay tuned to find out.

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk via FCA.

Written by Sam George

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