This year’s Auto Show in Detroit is notably light on introductions compared to its heyday in the ‘90s and 2000s when Cobo Hall was packed with announcements and bombastic reveals. Still, some hometown players are showing off new wares – including Ford with the Mustang later tonight – and Jeep with the pair of machines shown here.
What’s that smell? According to some residents on Detroit’s east side, it’s the Mack assembly plant. The site of production for Jeep’s new three-row Grand Cherokee L and the recently introduced next-gen, two-row Grand Cherokee is rankling the noses of people who live in the vicinity, with some calling for the state’s enviro cops to hold Stellantis to some measure of accountability.
It’s the latest in a series of escalating actions by residents and their representatives, with a hotline phone number cropping up a couple of weeks ago followed by yesterday’s proposal that included a Stellantis-funded voluntary relocation effort and home repair program.
Jeep has one of the tougher challenges in the business, especially when it comes to its longest-running nameplates, such as Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.
That challenge is this – how to keep models that are based on an old-school formula, one that heavily involves off-road chops and, in this case, an optional V8 engine, modern.
Jeep has been up to the task so far with the Wrangler, even introducing a hybrid to the line. Now it’s the Grand Cherokee’s turn.
Our fancy-pants Managing Ed. is currently enjoying the sunny and rocky environs of Moab, sampling different variants of the new-for-’22 Jeep Grand Cherokee. His impressions will appear on these digital pages in due time but, until then, let’s examine what might just be The Right Spec of this popular SUV.
When the Grand Cherokee originally debuted back in 1993, Americans were just warming up to the idea of daily driven sport-utility vehicles. The idea was pretty straight-forward: Take the capability of the Cherokee XJ, tune it for real-world drivability, tweak the look, and add some creature comforts that shift the scales away from the utilitarian toward the premium.
Nearly three decades later the concept remains largely the same, but the all-new Grand Cherokee L is worlds apart from the first generation ZJ. Aside from the third row (a first for a Grand Cherokee), this decked-out SUV rolls around on decidedly massive 21-inch wheels, boasts massaging front seats covered in quilted Palermo leather and a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, and floats on an adjustable air suspension with adaptive dampers – latter of which is also a first for the model.
The reviews are breaking today on the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer. As Jeep resurrects one of its most historical full-size nameplates from a three-decade slumber, it’s getting a lot of positive press coverage. But Jeep is in for a world of disappointment in a couple of years.
Jeep has offered all sorts of different utility vehicles over the years – it’s sort of the brand’s thing – but it hasn’t recently offered a three-row crossover. The last one it sold was the Commander, which left the market a decade ago.
I quite honestly forgot the Commander even existed – and I started in automotive journalism in 2007. While it was still on the market. I suspect most Jeep faithful have also memory holed that model.
That’s unlikely to happen with the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, for better or for worse.
The Cherokee Nation has requested that Jeep change the name of some of its vehicles. While you can probably guess which ones are causing offense, it should be stated that the automaker has been utilizing the Cherokee name to evoke a sense of power and natural harmony for over 45 years. But nobody is going to argue that native peoples have a decided advantage in who has first dibs on the title, especially in a time of unprecedented tensions regarding what’s deemed racially insensitive.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, certainly seems to think Jeep crossed a line. This is actually the first time the group has ever asked Jeep to change a vehicle’s name, though Jeep has also gone on record numerous times to defend its use.
Eighty years of anything is a lot, with life and marriage – and the occasional fruitcake – being heartily celebrated if they ever make it that far. There have been a few car brands to mark this milestone as well; Jeep is the latest to join the club.
Rather than rent the local banquet hall for a party, however, they’ve decided to do what carmakers tend to do best in times like these: Roll out a few special editions.
I knew I might need wheels during a week-long trip to Los Angeles. I was hoping for something well-suited for a run over the Angeles Crest Highway.
Instead, a Jeep Grand Cherokee was the vehicle available. I hadn’t driven one in years, but I’ve always been fond of the current generation — a generation that is aging rapidly. Would the ravages of time sour my opinions?
Short answer: No. While aging, the Grand Cherokee remains a pleasant SUV for around-town commuting, with off-road capability in its back pocket.