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Towing capacity is down and occupancy is up as Jeep’s newest vehicle takes on the Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol for a slice of the off-road seven-seat SUV market.
Jeep has redefined the Grand Cherokee to compete with the seven-seater set in the large SUV segment.
It’s an arena the North American marque hasn’t paid attention to in Australia in recent years, focusing instead on its capable five-seat version with up to 3500kg towing capacity.
With the WL model Grand Cherokee L (as in long) arriving in showrooms from next month, the towing capacity ranges from 2,813kg to 2,268kg.
The company justifies the shift by saying more than 70 per cent of large SUVs sales are seven-seaters. So is it a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul?
Jeep Australia boss Kevin Flynn says the shift reflects the realities of the market: more people want seven seats and diesel is increasingly on the nose globally, despite the fact the current (WK) diesel accounted for more than half of Grand Cherokee sales in Australia.
“I’m not sure everybody tows to the capacity that (the WK) was offering,” Kevin said.
“And I think that one of the interesting things moving forward is actually what is the level that is actually needed as opposed to desired?”
It’s a valid point but one likely to be lost on many Australian buyers who still insist on purchasing off-road vehicles they’ll never use to their full capability.
For the record, the five-seat Grand Cherokee will arrive later this year and a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid should also find its way into showrooms in the near future.