Despite economic turmoil and an overactive rumor mill, it appears almost certain that the next-generation 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a long-time moneymaker for Chrysler Corporation, Group, and LLC, will be built in a renovated North Jefferson plant.
Reliable source oh20 described the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee as a “complete redesign, not a refresh.” Whether Mercedes is involved or not is an open question, but their influence is bound to be smaller than it was with the 2008-2010 models — despite the heavy use of Mercedes powertrain components and a technology sharing agreement which will result in the next-generation Mercedes “M” adopting some new Grand Cherokee engineering.
Ryan, another established source wrote, “I can tell you a few things that are certain. Jeep will be moving the Grand Cherokee to the North Jefferson plant, along with the Durango. Both vehicles are already done being designed, and production starts in the spring I believe [this may indicate the Grand Cherokee will be a 2010 model]. Both vehicles will be quite different than what they are now. The Aspen will be kicked because for some reason, people still like Escalades better.” He agreed on the Phoenix, put in the new Hemi at 380 hp, and suggested an SRT model.
Redriderbob wrote, “About a year and half ago, I broke the word to you guys and gals at Allpar.com that the next generation of the Grand Cherokee would grow in size to cover both the Commander and Grand Cherokee lineups. I also stated that the next Grand Cherokee, Aspen, and Durango would all share a common platform. That is still true. Dodge will replace the Durango in 2012, one model year after the introduction of the new Grand Cherokee. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2012 Dodge Durango will share powertrains as well as chassis parts. The Chrysler Aspen's future is still undecided.”
A new source, whose information has been collaborated to a degree by others, noted that three engines will be available, with a possible SRT8 model also getting its own engine:
- 3-liter turbo diesel, apparently sourced from Mercedes (the same one currently in use)
- 3.6 liter Phoenix engine (280 hp?)
- 5.7 liter variable-cam Hemi (350 hp?)
The new source wrote that each of these engines will get a different five-speed automatic transmission; the best goes to the Hemi, which will have the reliable, comfortable 545RFE. Phoenix engines will get the usual Mercedes automatic. Finally, the diesel will get a Mercedes automatic that’s new to Chrysler.
Again, despite the mostly-unchanged powertrains, we’re told the new Grand Cherokee is a complete redesign — an unusual step considering that the current Grand Cherokee was also a complete redesign. However, Mercedes’ involvement reportedly added considerable bulk to the current generation, while the overall feel declined from the prior model.
Some more interesting features and options are slated to include:
- “Jeep naturals:” Load-levelling, height-controlled air suspension (optional) and “terrain select” four wheel drive
- From minivans: Power liftgate, video, and ParkSense and ParkView™ rear assist and side blind spot detection
- From Liberty: “Command View®” dual sunroof system
- Satellite radio/phone system
- Adaptive cruise control (which maintains a distance from the next car, as well as a speed)
The usual range of other options should be present (e.g. dual zone air conditioning, skid plates, trailer towing, extra-good audio system).
As for looks, our guess is that Jeep will move back to the original Grand Cherokee styling cues. Most likely, aerodynamic considerations will have a much higher influence than before — which does not necessarily mean you should expect swoopy lines, since the new Ram doesn’t look especially aerodynamic but is, and the “aero-styled” Shadow wasn’t. We suspect the “blocky” styling will be toned down, inside and out; today’s ethic is looking lighter, not heavier. We’re hoping the goofy headlight treatment will disappear — replaced either by the current “big round headlights” or by the Grand Cherokee’s original rectangles.
Redriderbob wrote, “We do know it will draw super-heavy amounts of influence from the 2007 Jeep Trailhawk Concept. That vehicle was based on the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited platform that has a 116" wheelbase, the same wheelbase as the previous generation Dodge Durango! Front grille styling, as well as side profile styling cues will be very similar I am told. The vehicle will carry more chunky and edgy fenders. I have been told it will look more like a Range Rover Sport with Jeep DNA on steroids!”
Ryan wrote, “The Grand Cherokee will bring in some Commander qualities and design cues (interior wise) and expect something beautiful to compete with the luxury bound Range Rover.”
One area where our new source and oh20 differ is in the use of the V8, with oh20 believing that the Grand Cherokee will use a 4.7 liter V8 engine apparently based on the Phoenix line. This might have been postponed given budget cuts.
Since the new Grand Cherokee is due in late 2010, you might see an introduction at the next New York Auto Show in 2009... or you might not. Historically, Jeep has been showing new models in New York.