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Chrysler takes Grand Cherokee upscale

Redesigned Jeep should boost per-vehicle profits. Automotive News reports.

Automotive News

NEW YORK -- With the redesigned 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler LLC aims to create a luxury luster for the Jeep brand.

The Grand Cherokee takes aim at luxury crossovers and SUVs such as the Lexus RX, BMW X5, Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz ML. The Jeep arrives in dealerships in spring 2010.

The Grand Cherokee will be Chrysler's most important launch until 2011, when products from its alliance with Fiat S.p.A. are expected to start rolling off North American assembly lines. And the Jeep will offer a peek at Chrysler LLC's strategy to be a smaller, more profitable company with more upscale products.

"We now have the bones to take the brand anywhere we want to," said Chrysler design chief Ralph Gilles in an interview at the auto show here.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The redesigned Jeep should boost per-vehicle profits. Automotive News

Luxurious features

Built on the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz ML, the next-generation Grand Cherokee was well under way when Daimler AG and Chrysler divorced in 2007. When the Grand Cherokee appears in dealerships next year, it will have features and options typically found only in luxury cars.

Those items include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, remote start and a Quadra Lift suspension system that can lift the vehicle 4.5 inches higher than its normal mode when parked. A system called Selec-Terrain comes with a 5.8-liter Hemi V-8.

Chrysler will offer a diesel, but not for North America. The company stopped making the Grand Cherokee diesel model late last year because of lack of demand.

'Very affordable'

Chrysler hopes to keep the Grand Cherokee's price reasonable by sharing under-the-skin hardware with Mercedes and by selling the Grand Cherokee at large volumes, both in North America and around the world.

"We'll be able to offer it at a very affordable volume price," said Chrysler co-President Jim Press at the auto show. Chrysler has not determined prices or discussed volumes. The vehicle will be made at Chrysler's Jefferson North plant in Detroit.

(Source: Automotive News)