Jeep has revealed that the soon-to-land new Grand Cherokee will undergo pre-production testing in Australia, before hitting showroom floors late 2021.
It’s a move that has paid dividends for the likes of Kia, Hyundai and Toyota, who have followed up off-shore vehicle development with smaller, localised testing and validation programmes.
“We're going to test your roads. We're going to test your dirt roads. Going to test the towing capacity, because we know it's important in your market,” Christian Meunier, Jeep Global President explained.
“We're going to make it perfect, we're very determined to do that. And just for you to be reassured as well, we don't test it only in Australia; we've tested it in all the most extreme places in the world.”
“Whether it's up north in Canada, in the coldest places of the world. But that's not really important for you,”
“But in the hottest place in the world, in the Middle East. So Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, where it's 50 degrees not for one day, but for two months. So that's also a very important thing for you because it can get hot in Australia.”
In particular, Mr Meunier pointed out the importance of towing in Australia:
“I've been completely brainwashed when I came to Australia about towing. Completely brainwashed, it's all about towing.
“If you can't tow enough, it's not going to work. So are we going to do it in Australia, because towing in North America is not the same. 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.”
However, contrary to Australian towing tastes, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L won’t be coming to Australia with a diesel powerplant. Instead, the initial 3.6-litre petrol V6 will be followed by a plug-in hybrid badged as 4Xe.
While turbocharged diesel engines have been the bedrock of four-wheel drives and tow vehicles in Australia for decades now, the Nissan Patrol has made headway as a petrol alternative which tows well with plenty of torque, and doesn’t use astronomical amounts of fuel.
And Jeep sees the future powered by petrol and electric drivetrains, with diesel being a dying breed:
“We're looking toward the future, and we believe that electrification really provides a lot of benefits torque-wise, acceleration-wise and towing.
“Towing is good. Towing is core to Jeep, so we wouldn't compromise on it. But we've tested Wrangler and Grand Cherokee 4xe. And towing is at least as good as with an ICE engine.”
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L will be the first three-row SUV that Jeep has offered in Australia since the Commander from the 2000s.
The current Grand Cherokee has only had accommodation onboard for five, and will be replaced by a new-generation two-row Grand Cherokee some time in 2022.