Jeep is putting the right-hand drive version of its ageing Cherokee out to pasture, thereby exiting the mid-sized SUV segment in Australia.
“Production of the Jeep Cherokee for main markets outside of North America, including right hand drive models, is ending in a drive to focus marketing and sales resources into key volume models,” said a spokesperson for Jeep Australia.
“The Jeep Cherokee continues to be manufactured for Canada, the US and South Korea – where a version with a similar specification to North America is sold.”
Fewer than 40 examples are left in Australia.
The defunct Sport’s Tigershark 2.4-litre engine was discontinued globally, leaving only a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder not sold here plus the naturally aspirated 3.2-litre V6.
With no electrified powertrains to offer, Jeep recently discontinued the Cherokee in Europe, leaving us as one of the few export markets for the mid-sizer and one of the last remaining right-hand drive markets.
In another reduction to the Cherokee’s global footprint, Jeep is also closing its GAC Jeep joint-venture in China, which produced the mid-sizer among other vehicles for the Chinese market.
The axing of the Cherokee in Australia will leave Jeep without a mid-sized SUV, despite this being the second largest segment by volume in Australia last year – and the highest-volume SUV segment overall.
Jeep has a slightly larger Compass-based model called the Commander or Meridian, which it sells in markets like Brazil, India and Japan, but it isn’t offered here.
The demise of the Cherokee also sees the end of the last V6-powered mid-sized SUV in Australia from a mainstream brand.
A replacement for the Cherokee is expected to debut before 2025 and offer an electric powertrain. While it hasn’t been officially confirmed for Australia, the brand’s global CEO Christian Meunier said the majority of future Jeeps will be engineered for right-hand drive.
Jeep has confirmed it will launch two electric mid-sized SUVs in Australia: the rugged Recon and the more luxurious Wagoneer S.
The company had acknowledged the current KL Cherokee, which first entered production in 2013 and which was last updated in 2018, was in need of replacement.
“That keeps me up at night and that product obviously is… getting smaller and smaller in volume, and we say that the current product is getting less and less competitive in the very competitive segment,” Jeep CEO Christian Meunier told CarExpert in September, noting the mid-sized SUV segment is the largest in the world.
That’s a far cry from the figures it posted earlier in its lifecycle.
In 2015, Jeep sold 6156 Cherokees, outselling the likes of the Ford Kuga, Holden Captiva 5 and Suzuki Grand Vitara, if not quite posing a threat to stalwarts like the Toyota RAV4.
Volume then fell massively to 2079 sales in 2016, with sales sliding gradually thereafter.
Even in its home market of the US, Cherokee sales have been sliding. Per Carsalesbase, the current generation reached a height of 239,437 sales in 2018 but has gradually declined since then, reaching a low of 89,126 sales in 2021.
MORE: Everything Jeep Cherokee