The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee large SUV is undergoing extensive testing in Australia that will result in a locally tuned suspension and towing capability, according to the US carmaker's global president Christian Meuniér.
Speaking to Australian motoring journalists via Zoom from the US, Meuniér said putting the Grand Cherokee through its paces in Australia represented an opportunity to subject it to extreme conditions and "perfect" it for the local market.
“Your market is quite different from other markets that’s why we decided to bring the product (for testing)," he said. "We want to prove to the customer that we care, and we want to make the product perfect for them.
“We’re going to see how it behaves… with your own fuel and everything that comes with Australia, and we’re going to tweak it, make it better - we’re going to make it perfect."
Meuniér admits that during his visits to Australia he had been “completely brainwashed” about the importance of towing to the local market.
“It’s all about towing. If you can’t tow enough it’s not going to work.
“Towing in North America is not a thing, people don’t tow the same thing, they don’t tow the same trailers, they don’t do it the same way and the roads are not the same.”
Plug-in hybrid push
Meuniér confirmed the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee won’t come with a diesel option, adding that while he appreciates this may deter some Australian large 4x4 SUV buyers, he believed the new 4xe plug-in hybrid version to be revealed early next year will be a superior alternative in terms of economy and pulling power.
“Electrification really provides a lot of benefits torque-wise, acceleration-wise and towing is good – towing is core to Jeep, so we wouldn’t compromise on it.
“I’m convinced we’re going to do well with Grand Cherokee 4xe in Australia, it’s going to be an alternative. It’s going to be a way also for Jeep to differentiate and to show that we’re really advanced on technology.
“The capability off-road is outstanding, people are going to love it, I have no doubt.”
But while Jeep's move into electrification has come at the expense of diesel powertrains, the big petrol V8s are safe for now.
“The 4xe at the end of the day in terms of capability torque and everything is as competent as a V8 and obviously fuel economy and everything there is no comparison, so we’re looking towards the future.
“(But) it doesn’t mean the V8 doesn’t remain. Obviously, there is still a market around the world especially in North America.”