2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee debuts “later this year”; FCA design boss

March 2, 2020

The next-gen, ‘WL’ 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be unveiled later this year, FCA’s head of design, Ralph Gilles, has confirmed. This will mean, finally, a replacement for the long-running current shape model.

In a 40-minute video posted on FCA North America’s Facebook page, Ralph Gilles and head of Ram design, Mark Trostle, are interviewed as part of the launch of the 2020 FCA US Drive for Design Contest. This competition essentially encourages bidding designers to pitch their ideas of a future FCA machine.

Fast forward to around the 15:00 mark and you’ll hear Gilles confirm that the next-gen Grand Cherokee will debut later this year. More specific timing isn’t mentioned, but the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in June could be a decent bet. In the video, Gilles answers a question about the FCA design he is most proud of, saying:

“If you go by what makes money for the company it’s hard to ignore the Ram and the Grand Cherokee. They’re our prized profit vehicles. And I love the Grand Cherokee because it has survived so beautifully. It’s getting on now, and we’re about to replace it later this year. We’re going to show the new one.”

There have been many reports and some speculation about the new model over the recent years. The latest we’ve heard is that it could jump to the Alfa Romeo’s ‘Giorgio’ platform, which currently underpins the Giulia and Stelvio. However, for the Grand Cherokee it is set to be stretched and revised to suit the big GC’s stature and purpose.

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Power is expected to come from a similar lineup of engines as well as some new ones. There’s talk of a V6 hybrid coming in, and even a new twin-turbo inline-six petrol engine nicknamed ‘Tornado’ potentially coming in to replace the current 5.7L V8.

We saw some images showing the interior of the 2021 Grand Cherokee in August last year via a purported product information booklet. It outlined new Uconnect touch-screens ranging from 7.0, 8.4. and up to a new 10.1-inch unit for upper variants, as well as digital instrument clusters for all.

The current ‘WK’ Jeep Grand Cherokee has been a big sales success around the world and in Australia in various stages of its lifetime. During its initial years, it was the most popular SUV outright in Australia. However, it has also been one of the most recalled SUVs on the new-car market. That, along with an influx of newer SUVs joining the scene, is likely to have assisted in the drop in sales experienced recently.

During 2014, Jeep sold 16,582 Grand Cherokees in Australia. This fell to 11,964 units in 2015, and then to 6379 in 2016, and down to 5356 in 2017, to 3939 in 2018. Last year, Jeep Australia shifted just 2986 examples of the Grand Cherokee. With a totally refreshed model on the way the iconic brand could see some recovery.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.