The all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee L, due to go on sale in Australia later this year, will not be offered with a diesel engine – unlike the outgoing model.

Instead, the completely overhauled new version will launch with petrol engine/s, and gain a Jeep Australia-first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version that the company says should tow as well as a V8, by early 2022.

This means the outgoing Grand Cherokee’s 3.0-litre diesel V6 with 184kW of power and 570Nm of torque will be retired.

While demand for large diesel SUVs is still strong in Australia – most of the top sellers here across the mainstream and premium segments use diesel – the story globally is changing. SUVs this big aren’t so popular in Europe; and the USA, China, and the Middle East are generally seen as petrol-over-diesel markets.

“There won’t be a diesel on the Grand Cherokee. And I’m not going to elaborate about diesel and the future of diesel and things like that because I think you know,” Jeep global president Christian Meunier told Australian media.

“Obviously we still have diesel powertrains and diesel is still there in Europe especially, but also in North America in certain conditions, and also in Australia. But on the Grand Cherokee, the decision was to go petrol and electrification… because that’s where the future is going.

“And with electrification on products like Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, we’re able to deliver more capability off-road, more fun to drive, strong towing capacity, strong torque, and an eco-friendly technology.”

The new and far more sophisticated Grand Cherokee was revealed in seven-seater ‘L’ guise last week. The company said the five-seat two-row model will follow shortly, as will the Grand Cherokee L ‘4xe’ PHEV.

The two powertrains announced for the Grand Cherokee are a 216kW/350Nm 3.6-litre V6 petrol, and a 266kW/530Nm 5.7-litre V8. American-market versions have braked towing capacities of 2810kg (V6) and 3265kg (V8).

They use an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission, and are four-wheel drive with optional air suspension. To save fuel, the four-wheel drive system will decouple the front axle when it’s not required. The V8 also features cylinder deactivation.

We don’t know specific information on the Grand Cherokee 4xe PHEV, though one can easily imagine commonalities with the Wrangler 4xe, which uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with two electric motors and a 17kWh battery.

Outputs in this car are listed as a meaty 280kW and 637Nm. Jeep claims an electric-only range of 40km

“At the end of the day, you know, in terms of capabilities, torque, and everything [the PHEV] is as competent as a V8. And obviously, fuel economy and everything, there is no comparison,” said Mr Meunier.

“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.”

Jeep has announced a testing program for the Grand Cherokee in Australia, to localise suspension and to factor in what it considers our market’s unusual towing requirements.

Tell us, does the confirmed lack of a diesel option strike the next Grand Cherokee from your shopping list?

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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