The three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L is on the road, and is soon to be followed by the two-row Grand Cherokee. With this new generation, Jeep tweaked the formula of an icon – the most award-winning SUV ever – and in doing so increased its bandwidth of variants, pricing, technology, powertrains and content. After all, this is the first time that the Grand Cherokee has offered three rows of seats. It’s also the first time the Grand Cherokee will be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the form of the 4xe. More than anything, however, it’s a far more premium product than before; a Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit could find itself in the company of Range Rover and other premium import brands without much protest.
To get a better understanding of the new Grand Cherokee L, I sat down with Scott Tallon, Director of US product marketing at Jeep.
Jeep Grand Cherokee L: “Natural Extension” For Nameplate
“(A three-row model) is a natural extension for Grand Cherokee. It’s always been more premium than relative mainstream nameplates,” said Tallon in an interview with MC&T. Relative to conventional hometown comparisons, such as the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Blazer, the Jeep carries a higher base MSRP, goes well beyond their scope at the upper end, and can crack into the $72,000+ range with the Summit Reserve trim level. This top-of-the-line trim comes as loaded as you can get, offers a 5.7L Hemi V8 (a rarity in the segment), and even has a night vision camera system option. Perhaps a more accurate comparison for the Jeep would be something like a Range Rover Discovery, which starts at $56,000, with the R-Dynamic trim starting at $65,300.
Going more and more premium has been a slow burn for Jeep. Over time, the average transaction price for the Grand Cherokee has gone up since beginning of WK generation Grand Cherokee, which hit the market in 2009.
“The Grand Cherokee is a large breadth of vehicles, so it attracts a lot of different customers,” said Tallon. “The Overland and Summit do get cross-shopped with premium brands… the fourth generation Grand Cherokee had the most cross-shop from premium brands that we ever saw. This next generation takes it to the next level.”
Tallon noted that the makes that are cross shopped with the Jeep Grand Cherokee are mostly German but even Lincoln and Cadillac are found in the mix.
Higher End Touches: McIntosh Audio, Open Pore Wood
At the present, Jeep is currently the only automotive brand in the world to carry a McIntosh audio sound system, which can be found in both the Grand Cherokee as well as the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer. For the Grand Cherokee, the top-shelf audio system is available on Overland and Summit models and comes standard with the Summit Reserve Package.
The system in the Grand Cherokee is comprised of a 17-channel amplifier with a maximum output of 950 watts and 19 speakers, including a 10-inch subwoofer, to envelope vehicle occupants in high-definition sound. Metal accents on piano black surfacing, illuminated branding and McIntosh’s signature blue-glowing power meter help the highlight the audio system throughout the cabin.
Also in the Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve is an open pore wood finish, which is another first for Jeep. Looking at the cabin makes sense of why customers will cross-shop one of these with the likes of Cadillac, Lincoln, or a German import brand.
But don’t let the poshness fool you into thinking that the Jeep Grand Cherokee doesn’t get down and dirty off road. Because, if you have a look at our videos showing it navigate over rocky obstacles, and even go on three wheels, it definitely does.
WL Jeep Grand Cherokee Family To Grow
“Every year we look to enhance the value of the vehicle… just to make the base condition more competitive,” said Tallon. The strategy can be found elsewhere in the Stellantis vehicle portfolio, such as the Dodge Charger and Challenger. Slight tweaks each year is something that has proven effective for the muscle car brand.
Jeep is also looking to maintain the customer loyalty that’s been laid out by the WK Grand Cherokee.
“The fourth generation Grand Cherokee has brought in a lot of new customers,” said Tallon. “It’s won numerous loyalty awards… clearly the people that buy it fall in love with it… I think the breadth of the model lineup is very good at retaining owners.”
As time passes, look for Jeep to deliver a steady stream of news regarding the Grand Cherokee family. We’re already seeing it with the previous announcement the first-ever Trailhawk 4xe, while a new “Tornado” engine is expected to debut for Jeep next month at the New York Auto Show.
“We’ve got product news every year that gets the attention from consumers,” concluded Tallon. “Continuous product lifecycle management.”