After the analysis of Alfa Romeo MiTo and Dodge Journey, it is time for a SUV. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been always the best-selling SUV of Chrysler and a referent in the large and luxury SUV segment (E/F-SUV). It has been on the market since 1993 when the first generation was introduced and soon became a hit among SUV. Along with the Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee has become an icon in SUV segment, and at the same time one of Jeep’s most successful products ever. The latest generation was introduced in 2011, so it was one of the first all-new models to be launched after the take over by Fiat. Nevertheless, this SUV does not have any Italian DNA, as it was developed before the arrival of the Italians, when Chrysler was controlled by Daimler Benz. It is why most of its underpinnings are shared with second generation Mercedes-Benz ML. Anyway the Grand Cherokee is the most advanced product offered by Jeep nowadays allowing other brands of the group to develop their own products using the same platform, such as Dodge with the unsuccessful Durango. Thanks to that, the Grand Cherokee has been introduced in several markets, and in most of them the car has got interesting numbers in terms of sales registrations. From North America, where it has been traditionally the best-selling E-SUV, up to the Middle East, China or Russia, this SUV demonstrates that an elegant, accurate and brilliant SUV is possible to have. Therefore, Chrysler should apply the philosophy of the Grand Cherokee to develop its next SUV.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is considered a full-size SUV not only because of its size but because of its luxury features and price. Segmentation matters would place it as a E-SUV with direct rivals such as the BMW X5, Mercedes ML, VW Touareg or Range Rover. However its eternal rival has been always the also popular Ford Explorer. They both combine a luxury package in a big SUV without exaggerating the size (as it happens with the Ford Excursion or GMC Yukon). It allows the Grand Cherokee to have beautiful external shapes with a comfort, equilibrated and fancy interior. The car is 4.82 m long, and it can transport 5 passengers with a truck capacity of 782/1554 L. All that room is ‘packed’ in a simple but beauty exterior body with the classic seven-slot grille, small headlamps and trapezoidal wheel arches. In the back, it is the first time Grand Cherokee’s stop lights are positioned horizontally. All the changes made to this generation allowed it to improve its aerodynamic (Cd 0.37 compared to to previous generation, 0.404). In the interior, Chrysler guys decided to use the Advanced Interior Design Studio to project it. Therefore they focused on fine materials and details that can be seen in the dashboard but also in the roof and doors of the car. This generation could be Grand Cherokee’s most fancy one as Chrysler wanted to position it as a more premium SUV than its predecesors. Nonetheless there are really sporty versions such as the extreme SRT with sporty features and more than 460 HP.
In terms of powertrains there is a wide offer specially in its home market, USA. The basic engine is composed by 3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT with 290 hp, and then comes the SRT version with 6.4L, V8 and 465 hp. That engine makes of it one of the fastest SUV ever. Outside North America other engines are available: the 3.0L V6 Turbodiesel with 190 and 241 hp for European market. For other regions the V8 Hemi engine with 5.7L and 352 hp is also available. All of these engines must move up to 2 tons of weight. The car is produced mainly in USA for the whole world, but there is one assembly plant in Venezuela that builds it for that market. However Jeep plans to build it in China where its sales figures are not bad considering the fact that is an imported product. Indian market is also part of coming plans while this SUV has gained interesting market shares in markets such as Australia, the Middle East, and Venezuela. In 2011 more than 160.000 units were sold worldwide, which counted for 29% of Jeep’s total sales. The main market is for sure USA, where almost 128.000 units were delivered. But this model (along with the less popular Dodge Durango) got interesting market share in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Australia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Canada. In Europe it is not that popular, but after Fiat took over Chrysler, its sales are doing better, specially in Italy. However the success in the future must take into account 4 big markets that don’t have a direct impact yet: China (where it is now imported from USA but will be soon build locally); Brazil (there are no current sales of this model); India (its sales are expected to start in 2013); and Russia (where local production is expected briefly).
In the future? Jeep will introduce shortly (Detroit 2013) the first facelift of the model. Recent figures show that Grand Cherokee’s sales are slowing down in terms of growth while its main competitor, the Ford Explorer, rises its market share. No plans for next generation yet as this is a pretty new car and is doing quite well in terms of sales. In fact Fiat wants to take advantage of this car and plans to develop next Maserati SUV, the Levante, using the platform of the Jeep. Jeep will also offer a larger SUV (the Wagoneer) based on the Grand Cherokee.
For more information about Jeep Grand Cherokee and its competitors:
Automobile Magazine: Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer (English)
Inquirer Business: Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Ford Explorer (English)
Ride & Drive: Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. VW Touareg (English)
CarsGuide Australia: Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Nissan Pathfinder (English)
Edmunds: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 vs. Porsche Cayenne GTS (English)
Motoring (Middle East): Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 vs. Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG (English)