The next-generation Jeep Cherokee will be “bigger and better than ever”, but don’t expect it to debut this year.
The brand’s global head, Christian Meunier, has also confirmed it’ll feature “a lot of electrification”, suggesting it could be yet another Jeep to adopt a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Jeep is rolling out plug-in hybrid models across its range under the 4xe name. There are already 4xe versions of the Renegade, Compass, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, with a Gladiator 4xe in the works and plug-in hybrid versions of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer expected.
Mopar Insiders reports the KM Cherokee will also spawn a more upscale variant wearing the Wagoneer nameplate.
This nameplate is currently used by a full-sized SUV related to the Ram 1500. There’s also the posher Grand Wagoneer, and the extended-length Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L.
According to sources, this smaller Wagoneer-branded model will debut in 2024 or 2025 and will likely use the STLA Large architecture.
This is understood to be an evolution of the current Giorgio architecture underpinning the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio and Jeep Grand Cherokee WL, though it’s been reportedly configured for front-, rear- and all-wheel drive applications and internal combustion and electric powertrains.
The KM Cherokee could continue to offer a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, though its Wagoneer sibling would reportedly come only with all-wheel drive.
It’s unclear whether the Cherokee and Wagoneer will offer two or three rows of seating. In the US market, even mid-sized SUVs that offer a third row in Australia like the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail and Volkswagen Tiguan don’t offer one there.
While Jeep only sells the large Grand Cherokee L three-row SUV in Australia, it recently introduced the Commander/Meridian, a Compass-based three-row SUV, for markets like Latin America and India.
Jeep also has been selling an unrelated, Cherokee-based three-row SUV in China, the Grand Commander, since 2018.
There’s precedent for offering a much smaller Wagoneer-badged model.
After the large SJ Cherokee ended production in 1983, its upscale Grand Wagoneer relation continued. The smaller XJ Cherokee that entered production that year was also available as a more upmarket Wagoneer.
The Wagoneer was replaced by the short-lived Cherokee Briarwood in 1990, and the Grand Wagoneer ended production in 1991.
Jeep dusted off the Grand Wagoneer name for a top-spec Grand Cherokee for 1993, but it lasted a year and the nameplate was dropped until the launch of the current models in 2021.
Though the mid-sized SUV segment is one of the highest-volume segments in markets like the US and Australia, Jeep hasn’t updated its Cherokee since 2018.
Sales have trailed off in recent years in its home market and have absolutely cratered here. For 2022, it lost its front-wheel drive four-cylinder base model and is now available exclusively with all-wheel drive and a V6 engine.
When it eventually arrives, the new Cherokee should join a revitalised and expanded Jeep range.
According to Automotive News, new generations of Compass and Renegade are also due in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
The company is developing a trio of electric SUVs. These include a Polish-built small SUV, possibly wearing the Jeepster name, that’s already been teased and will launch in 2023, plus two SUVs – a rugged “whitespace” off-roader and a family SUV – reportedly due in 2024.
The latter two will also ride the STLA Large architecture, which will also underpin other electric vehicles like Dodge’s upcoming e-muscle car and the production Chrysler Airflow.
MORE: Everything Jeep Cherokee