Jeep Grand Cherokee L is More Luxurious, Roomier and a 3 Row Model, But Will Auto Consumers Bite?

Last Updated on July 11, 2021

MyFinancialTimes is a reader-centric site. We may receive compensation from the products and services we mention or recommend in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Remuneration may impact where offers appear. We may not include all available products or offerings. To learn more you can visit our advertising policy and editorial policy.

Jeep showrooms already feature – or are about to feature – the new 2021 Grand Cherokee L. This is a three-row SUV that is joining the ranks of models within a familiar family.  In January 2021, Jeep’s previous corporate parent, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), merged with Peugeot SA (also known as the PSA Group) to create a new Amsterdam-based company, Stellantis.

Hearing the Word ‘Jeep’

A lot rides in, or on, this SUV: the three-row SUV has become an important category of vehicle for the auto industry now, so that the Grand Cherokee L must immediately join battle in the marketplace with the Kia Telluride and the Hyundai Palisade SUVs. Further, since Jeep is an important brand, even within the big picture of all of Stellantis’ brands, the fate of the Grand Cherokee L is integral to the newly merged company’s growth prospects.

When casual followers of the auto industry hear the word “Jeep” and close their eyes, the image that comes to their minds is likely of a Wrangler, the four-wheel drive off-road SUVs that are the direct design descendants of the military jeeps that served the U.S. military during the Second World War. The Grand Cherokee line, first introduced in the 1993 model year was explicitly an act of brand expansion: urban, urbane, even luxurious. That 1993 model pioneered a new state-of-the-art air conditioning system using HFC-134a refrigerant in place of the older HCFC-12.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Line
The Grand Cherokee line, first introduced in the 1993 model year was explicitly an act of brand expansion: urban, urbane, even luxurious. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

That new model in 1993 served its purpose. Jeep sales improved by 66% within one year.

Brand expansion is also the mission of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, which is the first three-row model for this historic brand in several years.  Yet it won’t be the last, or even the last to debut this year. By the end of this year, car buyers inclined to get a three-row SUV might also want to look at the body-on-frame Wagoneer, and the Grand Wagoneer as well.

Making the Luxury Jeeps Roomier 

Branding may not be everything in the automotive industry, but it is a heck of a lot.  The Stellantis brands include (alpha order): Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot, Ram, Vauxhall.

Why the push to make the luxury Jeeps roomier? To attract new buyers, of course, is one reason. There is also the matter of loyalty retention. Corporation brass were reportedly concerned that current owners would leave the brand when it came time to buy a new car. They would perhaps head to the greener pastures, or bigger cars, being sold elsewhere.

The new Grand Cherokee will be manufactured at Detroit’s new Mack Engine Complex. Over the last two years, the company that put $1.6 billion into a thorough redesign of the facility, which has been around since the First World War. The redesign is custom-built to create the Grand Cherokee. At first it will be creating the three-row model, but it will also soon be making two-row versions for those buyers who may be attached to the familiar smaller design. Nearly 5,000 workers are employed there.

A Decentralized, Branded, Growth Strategy 

In broader terms: what is Stellantis’ growth strategy? And what does the strategy entail for the Stellantis brands? The CEO of the merged company,  Carlos Tavares, said in a recent interview: “We’re giving each [brand] a chance, giving each a time window of 10 years and giving funding for 10 years to do a core model strategy.” If Jeep can make effective use of that 10-year window, it may have as illustrious a career ahead of it as it has a legacy behind it.

The corporate plan is also to move toward electrification of its vehicles. Jeep is reportedly preparing a Grand Cherokee for later this year with a plug-i hybrid powertrain.