Jeep has great things in store for big SUV lovers as the FCA-owned brand is developing the truck-based Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer as well as the Grand Cherokee-based three-row SUV.
Our photographers caught a prototype of the latter in action in the United States, revealing a very generous ground clearance. Looking at the photos, it’s pretty obvious this three-row SUV prototype features air suspension, likely set in the highest “Off Road 2” position. Compared to the current Grand Cherokee which has a maximum ground clearance of 10.8 inches (274 mm), this next-generation Grand Cherokee-based model appears to ride even higher.
Taking into account the height of the 265/50 R20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires’ sidewalls and the distance from the tires’ edges to the center of the 20-inch alloys, the ground clearance could be between 12 and 13 inches (305-330 mm).
Obviously, you should take that with a grain of salt given the empirical way of determining the ride height. If accurate, the new Grand Cherokee looks set to offer best-in-class ground clearance. For comparison, the 2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door with the Sasquatch package clears 11.5 inches (292 mm).
Size and ground clearance aside, the three-row SUV based on the next-generation Grand Cherokee features packaging changes such as mounting the spare tire outside of the vehicle, between the rerouted exhaust. This was done in order to accommodate the fold-flat third-row seat. Looking at the spare wheel’s packaging, it’s clear that efforts have been made to give the big Grand Cherokee the best-possible departure angle.
Little else is known about Jeep’s three-row SUV but since it is essentially a seven-seat 2022 Grand Cherokee, we can expect it to use a modified version of Alfa Romeo’s Giorgio platform. The engine lineup should be familiar too and include the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 5.7-liter HEMI V8 gasoline engines. A plug-in hybrid variant will also be available.
In all likelihood, the three-row Jeep SUV won’t carry the Grand Cherokee name, despite it being closely related to the next-gen Grand Cherokee. In a 2019 interview, FCA CEO Mike Manley described the Grand Cherokee as an “icon” and suggested he’d be “crucified” if he applied the badge to a seven-seater.
The redesigned Grand Cherokee and its three-row variant will likely debut in early 2021 as 2022 models, with sales expected to begin in late summer or fall 2021.