The fifth generation of the US brand’s flagship SUV has been unveiled in its largest form initially, and while this model is destined exclusively for its home market, it serves as a preview of the new European-market Grand Cherokee, the current generation of which is more than 10 years old.
Design cues taken from the Grand Wagoneer concept form the basis for a dramatic styling evolution for the Grand Cherokee, which arrives alongside promises of boosted off-road capability, an upgraded interior and improved rolling refinement.
Jeep president Christian Meunier said the new Grand Cherokee L was redesigned to honour “its iconic Jeep heritage”. A more obviously defined two-box shape bears similarities to the original model, launched in 1992, while the Grand Wagoneer’s influence extends to its thin lights, protruding front bumper and new-shape seven-slat grille.
As with all previous iterations of the Grand Cherokee, the L sits atop a ‘unibody’ architecture, but one that has been heavily upgraded “to optimise ride, handling and quiet sound, while also reducing weight and improving fuel economy”.
The SUV can be specified with a choice of three distinct four-wheel drive systems: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II. An optional Quadra-Lift air suspension package can raise the ride height by up to 60mm for increased ground clearance or lower it by 46mm in Park Mode for ease of entry and exit.
Meanwhile, increased use of aluminium for the bodyshell and a series of revisions to the chassis are said to improve on-road behaviour. The front axle is bolted directly to the engine, for example, which reduces noise in the cabin, and new active engine mounts soften and stiffen according to the engine speed for reduced vibration.
The Grand Cherokee’s interior is described as “one of the most exquisite and technically advanced” on sale. Clearly inspired by that of the Grand Wagoneer concept, it does away with many of the physical switches and buttons of its predecessor in favour of a predominantly touchscreen-based affair.
The dashboard is dominated by a 10.1in infotainment touchscreen that runs Jeep’s latest Uconnect 5 operating system, while a new 10.25in digital gauge cluster can be configured to show “nearly two dozen” different displays.
The old car’s conventional shifter has been swapped for a rotary item (paddle shifters are also equipped), and there are new spaces for smartphone storage and an optional wireless charger.
The L is offered with either six or seven seats. This won’t be an option for the two-row European model, but we can expect broadly similar technology and cabin styling.
In the US, the Grand Cherokee L will be offered with a 3.6-litre petrol V6 and the flagship 5.7-litre Hemi V8, but the European-market standard car will likely be sold with a range of smaller-capacity motors, including a 4xe plug-in hybrid variant that will be available from launch.
The smaller car will likely share the new arrival’s economy-boosting technology, however, including a disconnecting front axle for reduced consumption at cruising speeds. Electronic driver aids will likely be shared by the two cars as well, so the next Grand Cherokee will optionally offer a head-up display, night-vision camera, drowsiness detection, a digital rear-view camera and traffic sign recognition.
US prices for the new model have yet to be detailed, but the standard Grand Cherokee will likely command a significant premium over the ageing current car when it arrives later this year.