The new Jeep Grand Cherokee’s development program involves a degree of testing in Australia, with a focus on getting it right for local conditions.
The company’s long-running large SUV has long been its most important model in Australia, though sales of the outgoing version have tapered off over the past few years.
As you can read here, the new Grand Cherokee was revealed last week and is expected to hit Australian showrooms in seven-seat ‘L’ guise by year’s end, with a two-row version and a plug-in hybrid expected for 2022. Controversially, there’s no diesel on the cards.
The promised local testing is one part of what appears to be a more concerted effort from the iconic brand to tune and tweak its vehicles in more places, to make them as ready for export markets as the USA.
Reports of a localised program have been kicking around for a while, based on widely-reported comments from Jeep’s global president Christian Meunier in late 2019.
Now, based on Mr Meunier’s latest comments given to Australian media last week, it seems like the work will comprise late-stage refinements with a particular focus on towing.
In fact, one of our staff has seen a heavily disguised and massive four-wheel drive in Melbourne we suspect is this new-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee.
“We’re testing the Grand Cherokee in Australia, we’re going to test your roads, we’re going to test your dirt roads, test the towing capacity because we know it’s important in your market,” Mr Meunier said last week.
“Obviously that’s important, with your own fuel, with everything that comes with Australia, and we’re going to tweak it, we’re going to make it better, we’re going to make it perfect. We’re very determined to do that.
“We don’t test it, obviously, only in Australia. We’ve tested it in all the most extreme places in the world, whether it’s in Canada, in the coldest places of the world… or Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, where it’s 50 degrees, not for one day, but for two months.”
When asked to specify whether the findings from Australian testing would lead to an Australia-specific suspension tune for the new Grand Cherokee, or merely inform the wider global tune, Mr Meunier was a smidgen ambiguous.
“The purpose of the testing is to see what differences exist in your market, the things that we need to tweak and tune. And of course, that’s the purpose. To make it really, really, really perfect for your market.
“[But] we sell Grand Cherokee pretty much everywhere in the world, right. So we have that knowledge of all the different markets. And the solution that we find for Australia can be applicable in another market if the conditions are similar.”
Presumably, we’d add, this goes both ways.
“What is really interesting is your market is quite different from other markets,” Mr Meunier added.
“That’s why we decided to bring the product [to test]. Obviously we want to prove to the customer that we care, and that we make the product perfect for them.
“Another example is the Middle East. You know, I’m really pushing hard for the Middle East to have proper testing the same way because they have a unique, specific requirement [too].
“… I’ve been completely brainwashed when I came to Australia about towing. It’s all about towing, if you can’t do enough it’s not going to work. So we’re going to do it in Australia, because towing in North America is another thing.
People don’t tow the same thing. They don’t have the same trailers, they don’t do it the same way. And the roads are not the same.”
Mr Meunier didn’t expand on any further specifics around the Australian program.
Jeep Australia has conducted testing here before, though we are more familiar with it making sure the infotainment and navigation systems work here as intended. A camouflaged Compass update in Melbourne is pictured above.