Are heavy updates coming for the Grand Cherokee’s 25th anniversary?

It’s no secret Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is putting all its eggs in the pickup and SUV categories, leaving behind its prior focus on small and mid-size cars. Part of FCA’s new vision will surely include Jeep’s venerable Grand Cherokee – the two-row, go-anywhere luxury SUV that’s helped define the brand for nearly 25 years. The current Grand Cherokee has been around since the 2011 model year, and it’s high time for some changes. So, will Jeep give the Grand Cherokee a 25th birthday present for the 2018 model year?

We’re betting so.

Jeep has been rather coy with information about the next-generation Grand Cherokee. Of course, there are no official details about the SUV, but Jeep boss Mike Manley has confirmed the high-performance Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will debut in April at the 2017 New York Auto Show. The Trackhawk will be the Hellcat-powered beast that’s rumored to have all-wheel drive while still keeping the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8’s 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.

But performance models don’t just appear out of thin air. They usually follow the more pedestrian version of the vehicle on which they’re biased. What that means for the Grand Cherokee, is that we can expect the heavily revised (if not all new) 2018 model to debut at the 2017 North American International Auto Show happening January 9 and 10.

With that in mind, we decided to create a rendering of what the next-generation Grand Cherokee might look like. We borrowed inspiration from Jeep’s own design team thanks to the leaked images spotted at a Jeep Dealers’ meeting. That poster not only showed the Grand Cherokee, but also the Grand Wagoneer, Cherokee, Wrangler, and Renegade. All five of these SUVs (except perhaps the Grand Wagoneer) will be huge sources of income for Jeep and FCA in the coming years.

So what’s the 2018 Grand Cherokee all about? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for more about the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Exterior

The Grand Cherokee has kept its same design language since the fourth generation debuted for the 2011 model year. The 2018 model isn’t expected to greatly depart from this, but rather expand on the theme with some fresh design elements and updated styling cues. Small but worthwhile updates are what’s expected.

Up front, the seven-slotted grille is larger, with taller openings. The headlights will be small but powerful, surely conforming to the IIHS’ recently adopted headlight lighting standards. Down low, the bumper will continue having a tapered edge designed to aid the Jeep’s approach angle. Exposed tow hooks further push the off-road theme, while actually being handy in the process. Fog lights mounded midway up the bumper help give the Grand Cherokee’s face some destination. We’d expect the Trackhawk variant to have large air inlets replace the small bezels around the fog lights, due to the Hellcat V-8’s need for large amounts of cool air.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee will continue its reign of being a capable SUV with handsomely rugged looks both outside and inside.

The strong SUV cues will continue around the Grand Cherokee’s sides thanks to squared-off fender openings trimmed with black plastic flares. Sharp character lines will be found running along the Grand Cherokee’s sides, helping to visually lighten its profile appearance. Jeep engineers have likely asked the design team to slope the windshield further back in hopes of improving aerodynamics. Don’t expect the greenhouse to shrink, though. Interior volume will need to remain high. The Grand Cherokee is already on the tight side for its class.

Jeep will undoubtedly have a slew of wheel and tire choices that correspond to different trim levels. Most will likely measure between 17- to 20-inches in size. Regardless of wheel and tire choice, the Grand Cherokee will have a respectable amount of ground clearance. Those with 4WD will surely have Jeep’s “Trail Rated” destination and associated fender badge. Expect a generous amount of underbody skid plating to come standard on the off-road focused Trailhawk version and optional on all other 4WD trim levels.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee
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2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee
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As for luxury bits, the Grand Cherokee will continue to offer Adaptive Cruise Control and all the associated safety features. That mean a radar sensor dome mounted low along the front bumper. A panoramic moonroof will also be optional, if not standard on higher trim levels. Jeep will undoubtedly offer special editions and unique trims with bespoke exterior adornments. Those should begin arriving for the 2019 model year.

All told, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee will continue its reign of being a capable SUV with handsomely rugged looks both outside and inside. Speaking of which….

Interior

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
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Note: current Jeep Grand Cherokee pictured here.

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee is surely getting an interior refresh. The current dashboard is showing its age and its materials, along with some fitments, aren’t the best in its class. FCA has done wonders with Chrysler products, but there is still a ways to go with the current Grand Cherokee. We expect a full-fledged rethink of the dashboard and gauge cluster. The 2017 Detroit Auto Show could even see the next-generation of Uconnect system debut in Jeep’s newest models. We’re hoping the Grand Cherokee is included in that.

We expect a full-fledged rethink of the dashboard and gauge cluster.

The Grand Cherokee will continue utilizing a two-row configuration with seating for five. The second row will fold flat to reveal a large storage area, just as it has in the past. High-end treatments like supple leather seats with heated, cooled, and massaging functions are expected in upper trims, while cloth seats and a non-navigation Uconnect system will probably be found in the base model.

Drivetrain

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Drivetrain
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Note: current Jeep Grand Cherokee pictured here.

FCA is rumored to be preparing an upgraded 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. This will likely be the standard engine for the Grand Cherokee. Optionally, the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel will continue to offer respectable fuel economy numbers an its impressive 420 pound-feet of torque. Of course, Jeep will continue offering the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 in higher trims. And despite the upcoming Hellcat-powered Trackhawk, Jeep CEO Mike Manley says the Grand Cherokee SRT will continue to live on powered by its 6.4-liter naturally aspirated Hemi V-8.

FCA is rumored to be preparing an upgraded 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. This will likely be the standard engine for the Grand Cherokee.

All engines will be backed by FCA’s eight-speed automatic transmission. The Pentastar, EcoDiesel, and Hemi will come standard in RWD, but can be had with 4WD. He SRT will only be RWD, unless Jeep offers the AWD system rumored to debut with the Trackhawk.

The Grand Cherokee’s optional air suspension could see improvements, too. We have found the air suspension to be rather stiff when raised to full lift, making off-roading less enjoyable, so hopefully this will be engineered out. The Trailhawk’s Quadra Drive II system with its Selec-Terrain system will stay, offering formidable off-road performance and the ability to select five different off-road modes, downhill decent control, and 4WD Low Range.

Prices

Jeep will probably raise prices incrementally for the 2018 Grand Cherokee between $500 and $1,000. The 2017 Grand Cherokee starts at $30,395 for the base Laredo trim, while the current range-topping SRT starts at $66,895. The Trailhawk splits the time levels and the difference in pricing, with a MSRP of $43,095. When the Trackhawk debuts, we’d bet it will list for around $75,000. Of course, options add to the cost, as do fees, taxes, and other fine-print odds and ends.

We will know more once Jeep debuts these models and the on-sale dates become closer. Mike Manley did say the Trackhawk will arrive in dealer showrooms in the third quarter of 2017, so we don’t have that long to wait.

Competition

Toyota 4Runner

2014 Toyota 4Runner High Resolution Exterior
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The 4Runner remains one of the last holdouts in the body-on-frame, two-row SUV category. Toyota has allowed the 4Runner to soldier on relatively unchanged for the while now, but that’s just fine. It continues to enjoy tremendous sales thanks to its mass appeal and outstanding off-road capabilities. The 4Runner is even offered in the TRD Pro trim line. For those who want luxury, the 4Runner’s Limited trim should be appealing.

The 4Runner is only offered with Toyota’s venerable 4.0-liter V-6. It makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque and comes mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Variable valve timing is the engine’s only “high tech” feature, and the transmission is short a few gears, so users shouldn’t expect Prius-like fuel economy. That worry disappears when the 4Runner is put into 4WD and blasts through rough terrain with ease. That’s what it’s built for, anyway – especially the TRD Pro.

Pricing starts $33,210 for the base SR5 trim and goes up to $42,400 for the TRD Pro.

Read more about the Toyota 4Runner here.

Volkswagen Touareg

2018 Volkswagen Touareg Exterior Spyshots
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The Touareg might appeal to those wanting a bit more class and luxury than the 4Runner. This German ute offers that, plus a comfortable ride and roomy interior for five. The VW’s interior is covered in leather and wood accents, though like the Grand Cherokee, it’s starting to show its age. The next-generation Touareg is coming for the 2018 model year, though, so the Grand Cherokee will have a fresh competitor to play with.

The current Touareg comes powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 making 280 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic does the shifting and VW’s 4Motion AWD system helps keep the two-row SUV moving forward through slippery conditions. And thanks to the Dieselgate debacle, no TDI engines are offered.

Prices for the VW Touareg start at $49,495. That’s quite a bit pricier than the base Grand Cherokee, but the potential for cross shopping is there. Fully loaded, a Toureg can cost upwards of $60,000.

Find put more about the Volkswagen Touareg here.

Conclusion

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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FCA is investing heavily into Jeep in hopes the crossover craze will bring big profits to the currently struggling automaker. As the old saying goes, FCA has too many irons in the fire. Not only is FCA working on new Jeep models, it is developing a new Ram 1500, renovating several of its assembly plants, and trying to launch the Alfa Romeo brand back into the U.S. as mass-market transportation. FCA certainly needs Jeep to continue pulling its weight and a reworked Grand Cherokee will surely help with that.

We’re looking forward to what Jeep has up its sleeve for the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Hopefully our suspicions are correct about the Grand Cherokee making its big debut there. And as always, stay tuned to TopSpeed for official information once it becomes available.

  • Leave it
    • Might not be a full generation change
    • Competition getting still
    • No official details yet
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