New Three-row Jeep Probably Won't Carry the Grand Cherokee Name

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
new three row jeep probably wont carry the grand cherokee name

In its big February plant and product announcement, Fiat Chrysler said its Mack Avenue engine facility will give way to SUV production, describing the first vehicle to emerge from the repurposed plant as a “three-row, full-size Jeep SUV.” Given that the next-generation Grand Cherokee will also call the plant home, and that the two models will almost certainly share underpinnings, one would assume the three-row Jeep would carry a modified GC nameplate. Think Hyundai Santa Fe XL.

That’s been the assumption, anyway. However, the automaker’s CEO suggests a wholly new nameplate is in the works.

Speaking to Britain’s Auto Express, Mike Manley said the upcoming three-row Jeep is referred to in vague terms for a reason. He also admits the Grand Cherokee, in its current form, has limitations.

The new model “will technically play in the same segment as Grand Cherokee,” Manley said, adding that, “Roughly 60% of that segment is three row, so Grand Cherokee has really only played in 40%. That will open up that part of the segment for us.”

Why not just add a size-related suffix to the Grand Cherokee name? It could still happen, Manley suggests, though he’ll be pushing for an alternative.

“We’ll have the choice of Grand Cherokee or a different model,” he said. “For me, the Grand Cherokee is such an icon, so that’s why I talk about as a three row Jeep. It’s like if I dramatically changed what Wrangler looked like – I’d be crucified! Grand Cherokee, interestingly, has a customer base that loves it because it’s got rear-wheel drive, well-positioned stance, and dimensionally it’s perfect.”

It remains to be seen just how much the new model differs, style-wise, from the Grand Cherokee. By the sounds of it, the new model will not simply be a carbon copy of the Grand Cherokee from the C-pillar forward, though the two models are expected to share the same architecture. It’s believed that an updated and beefed-up version of the Giorgio platform, found beneath the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio, will serve as the models’ starting point.

Whatever name FCA decides to bestow on the new model, customers will see the first units roll out of Mack Avenue in late 2020, with the next-gen Grand Cherokee coming along in the first half of 2021. (FCA’s Jefferson North facility will also build the GC.) In creating the new model, FCA will fill a lucrative white space between the two-row GC and the upcoming, big-bucks Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. Those brutes go into production at Warren Truck in early 2021.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Turbosasquatch Turbosasquatch on Mar 11, 2019

    I thought it was confirmed that it will be the Grand Commander. Same thing they sell in China

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    • Turbosasquatch Turbosasquatch on Mar 12, 2019

      @Steve203 Ah, I couldn't remember if it was Cherokee or Grand Cherokee based. The three row definitely needs a new name as another "Cherokee" would confuse some people, especially if they do bring over the 3 row Cherokee as well. I vote Comanche and Grand Comanche. Stays in the same vein as Cherokee but represents the 3 rows. They already named the truck the Gladiator anyways

  • Steve203 Steve203 on Mar 12, 2019

    I pondered their dilemma a while back. The Chrysler nomenclature for minivans was the short wheelbase version was the Caravan/Voyager while the long wheelbase version was the "Grand" Caravan/Voyager. They messed that up with the non-grand Cherokee an entirely different vehicle than the Grand Cherokee. So what to call a grander Grand Cherokee? It occurred to me to have a different family name for 3 row SUVs, so a 3 row non-grand Cherokee could be the Commander, without the Chinese market "grand", so then the 3 row Grand Cherokee could be the Grand Commander. But that starts to fall apart when a 2 row Wagoneer is a non-grand Wagoneer while the 3 row is the Grand Wagoneer. I considered making the 3 row Grand Cherokee the Wagoneer, and the BoF 3 row monster the Grand Wagoneer, but the sales volume of a car that pushes $100K is going to be so small they would struggle to amortize the investment in it. So, the Waggy and Grand Waggy sort of need to be variations on the same platform. There are plenty of other names in the Jeep archives: Patriot, Liberty, Chief, Comanche, Laredo. Make the 3 row Compass the Patriot, the 3 row non-grand Cherokee the Liberty, make the 3 row Grand Cherokee the Cherokee Chief?

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    • Steve203 Steve203 on Mar 12, 2019

      @danio3834 "We’re going to find out. Grand Cherokee and Durango sales are limited by the capacity of the plant they share, " I remember Marchionne complaining, several years ago, that he wanted to introduce the GC to more markets, but he couldn't get enough of them out of JNAP. The conversion of Mack Engine to a second assembly plant will address that issue. There is one nagging thought in the back of my mind: if they bless us with the 3 row non-grand Cherokee, whatever they call it, below the GC and the Waggy and Grand Waggy above the GC, will these additional models cannibalize the GC enough to make Mack Assembly redundant? Of course, the Grand Commander is exactly the right size to replace the Journey. Dropping the Journey would free production capacity at Toluca to build more Compasses and the upcoming 3 row Compass derivative. I added up US Compass and Journey sales, plus European sales of the Compass, which is also built in Toluca, and got well over 300,000 units last year. Toluca is a small plant. They must be losing their mind building that many. FCA was going to add the Compass for Europe to the production slate at the plant in Italy that already builds the Renegade and 500X, which would reduce the load on Toluca, but Manley started to walk that plan back several weeks ago.

  • Analoggrotto Knew about it all along but only now did the risk analysis tilt against leaving it there.
  • Mike Beranek Funny story about the '80 T-bird. My old man's Dart Sport had given up the ghost so he was car-shopping. He & I dropped my mom at a store and then went to the Ford dealer, where we test-drove the new T-Bird (with digital dash!)So we pull up to the store to pick mom up. She walks out and dad says "We just bought it.". Mom stares at the Mulroney- almost 13 grand- and just about fell over.Dad had not in fact bought the T-Bird, instead he got a Cordoba for only 9 grand.
  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 I'd love a well preserved Mark VII LSC with the HO 5.0 for a weekend cruiser. Its design aged better than both the VI and VIII. Although I'd gladly take the latter as well (quad cam V8 and wrap around interior FTW)
  • Teddyc73 The Mark VIII was the first car I lusted over as a young new auto enthusiast. Still think it's a beauty after all these years.
  • Art Vandelay wish They’d do an SS version of the Bolt. We need more electric hot hatches and this is a clean enough design that it would look good