By on March 11, 2019

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 [the new model] 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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39 Comments on “New Three-row Jeep Probably Won’t Carry the Grand Cherokee Name...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    Grand Cherokee Unlimited would follow the nomenclature used on the Wrangler, but that’s a 2 Door –> 4 Door proposition.

    I still think, a’la Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, that they’re throwing us for a loop and that the 3-row unibody GC will be the Wagoneer and the Bof Grand Wagoneer will be sold in 2- and 3-row variants under the same name.

    Assuming that isn’t the tack, my money is on them bringing back the Commander name.

  • avatar
    Z000MerSlikk

    I’m guessing Jeep Commander…. did I win?

  • avatar
    crtfour

    The closing of my first house about 12 years ago had to be postponed after my agent’s Jeep Commander left him stranded somewhere and he was waiting on a flatbed.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I certainly like mine. It looks identical to the stock image: same wheels, same Overland trim, same color, and everything.

  • avatar
    kkop

    “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.”

    Years from now, looking back, we will call this ‘the beginning of the end’.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Eh… why not? The current one is based on a MB platform that has been updated and modified.

      Might as well say the ditching of solid axles on the Grand Cherokee was “the beginning of the end”.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Hey, people lost their heads over the elimination of the opening rear glass window on the W2K model, so…..

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Talk about heresy but I’ve decided there would be ONE Wrangler JK I would be interested in.

          Sport S, hardtop, turbo 4 with eTorque.

          Civilized enough and efficient enough that I don’t feel silly driving it to work everyday or 500 miles a day on a family vacation.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “Might as well say the ditching of solid axles on the Grand Cherokee was “the beginning of the end”.”

        That much is true, from an offroader’s perspective.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Owned both at the same time and wheeled both. The WK2 Trailhawk is every bit as good offroad as the ZJ/WJ was, perhaps even better with all its driveline wizardry.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I think watering down the GC’s off-road ability to just a “Trailhawk” trim level would be fine. Same for the GC XL.

        For people really desiring an off-road vehicle the Wrangler/Gladiator is more liveable than ever and the W/GW will hopefully provide people with the option of a 3-row Power Wagon.

        • 0 avatar
          Roberto Esponja

          Let me tell you, I’ve driven a Trailhawk model through a pretty bad trail, and that vehicle is amazingly capable offroad…it amazed the heck out of me.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    The W2K Grand Cherokee has aged remarkably well. We’re on our second, a ’17 Overland, and outside of the seats being too flat, some of the switch gear feeling a bit flimsy, and perhaps a gripe about fuel economy, it really has been an outstanding vehicle. Obviously, Jeep has a lot riding on the 2021.

    Is the 3 row going to be the Grand Wagoneer, is is that going to be a different beast entirely?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      My comparative understanding is that the next Grand Cherokee is going to be in the Blazer/Passport class, the Grand Cherokee ‘XL’ will be in the Explorer/Enclave class, the BOF Wagoneer will be Yukon/Expedition, and the BOF Grand Wagoneer will be Navigator/Escalade.

      A few have speculated (hoped?) that the Wagoneer will be on a half-ton chassis and the GW will be on an HD chassis, but I don’t see that happening.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You mean WK2, but I agree.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Jeep sold 224,908 Grand Cherokees in 2018. Ford sold, 261,571 Explorers, of which, 33,839 were Police Interceptors. Pretty strong sales numbers for a two row SUV. A three row SUV that is imbued with the market recognition of the Grand Cherokee could be a best seller.

  • avatar
    mr_mike

    Great Grand Cherokee?

  • avatar
    NWBR

    “For me, the Grand Cherokee is such an icon, so that’s why I talk about [the new model] as a three row Jeep. It’s like if I dramatically changed what Wrangler looked like – I’d be crucified!”

    So true. People would go crazy if you stretched out a Wrangler and added a couple of extra doors….

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Um….FCA……Grand Wagoneer? Perhaps I am too much of a traditionalist.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Jeep Durango. I mean, Durango should become just a name of elongated SUV. So, if today Durango is a stretched Cherokee then why not just call all stretched FCA SUVs Durango?
    For example:
    Jeep Durango – 3 row Jeep
    Dodge Durango – 3 row Dodge

  • avatar
    deanst

    Give the new model an engine from the Trenton engine plant – the Grand Cherokee Trenta! (Does Starbucks even offer that size now?)

  • avatar
    deanst

    The Grand Cherokee must be popular – I’m seeing ads with this article for a 15% discount, rather than the usual 25% off FCA products.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    As usual, people jump to conclusions. A long, long time ago, when the first concept of the new 3-row came into being, “Grand Cherokee” was not in the running; they wanted to re-launch the old Wagoneer name to differentiate from the Cherokee which was smaller than the original Wagoneer. Somehow, that choice, which was even presented here on TTAC when the concept was first discussed, has been forgotten.

  • avatar
    turbosasquatch

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

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Grand_Commander

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

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

      The Chinese Grand Commander is a stretched non-grand Cherokee.

      • 0 avatar
        turbosasquatch

        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

  • avatar
    Steve203

    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?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      So now you have three money-losing models as they won’t make enough sales to support themselves. Those who NEED 3-row seating are few and far between, though I acknowledge there are some. I just read last night that seniors will begin outnumbering teens in a matter of just a few years, which means the need for three-row vehicles is going to fall drastically.

      Think about it.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve203

        “So now you have three money-losing models as they won’t make enough sales to support themselves.”

        My hunch is stretches don’t cost all that much to do.

        In their 5 year plan released last year, FCA’s plan for Jeep is to move from 80% market coverage to what they deem necessary for 100% market coverage. Their plan calls for adding a “low D 3 row” which is probably derived from the 3 row Fiat version of a stretched Compass that has been approved for Brazilian production, the existing D segment Grand Commander, which is a 3 row non-grand Cherokee, and an “E segment 3 row” to compliment the E segment Grand Cherokee, plus the F segment Waggy and Grand Waggy.

        “Those who NEED 3-row seating are few and far between,”

        A friend of mine is a married, retired, empty nester. He drives an Escalade, because that is what he wants. Before the Escalade, he drove a Hummer. Some people simply want a bigger car. NEED has little to do with it.

        It will be interesting to see what the Grand Cherokee 2 row vs 3 row sales split is. Last year, GC sales were way higher than Durango sales, 224,908 vs 65,947. I’m sure that FCA management has enough data to know how much they can spend on 3 row derivatives and make money on them.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          “He drives an Escalade, because that is what he wants.”

          None shall appease the Vulipnator with such a selfish reason!

          For it is ONLY the Vulpinator who may whine, scratch and chant a mantra of “Not what I want!”.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Last year, GC sales were way higher than Durango sales, 224,908 vs 65,947. I’m sure that FCA management has enough data to know how much they can spend on 3 row derivatives and make money on them.”

          We’re going to find out. Grand Cherokee and Durango sales are limited by the capacity of the plant they share, which has been running beyond capacity for a long while.

          • 0 avatar
            Steve203

            “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.


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