Did you know that Jeep is now building a three-row, seven-passenger SUV in China for the Chinese market? It just debuted at the Beijing Motor Show, it's called the Jeep Grand Commander, and it looks pretty awesome.
The Jeep Grand Commander is one of four Jeep models produced in Ningbo as part of a partnership with GAC, and frankly, I'm kind of miffed that we don't get it here because it looks nice. The Grand Commander comes with all the hot stuff like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via Chrysler's uConnect, Nappa leather seating and "wooden-look" accents.
In the spirit of egalitarianism, the press release for the Grand Commander also wants to make sure that, thanks to features like three-zone independent air conditioning and plenty of headroom throughout, passengers will not be treated differently because of where they sit. It points this out twice, but the interior does indeed seem like a very nice place to be.
Exterior styling is large, square and Jeep-like, which is a good thing. Think of a Grand Cherokee and take away a bunch of curves. GAC FCA says that this is done "to meet the need of consumers for being 'respectfulness, dignity and grandiosity' under all occasions, the exterior of a vehicle must look upscale and grandiose." It's pretty much working for us in that regard.
Naturally, you'd expect something like the Grand Commander to be powered by one of FCA's many fine V8 engine options, but nope, you'd be wrong. The Grand Commander is motivated by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine coupled with a nine-speed ZF automatic gearbox. It may not do big smokey Trackhawk burnouts, but with a 0-to-60 time of around 8 seconds, it seems perfectly respectable.
Standard on the Grand Commander is, of course, four-wheel drive. It's a Jeep at the end of the day, and even in the People's Republic, there would likely be civil unrest if they tried to pass off some front-wheel-drive people-hauler as a Jeep. There is a system in place to disconnect the rear axle under low-load conditions for economy's sake, but that's fine by us.
All in all, the Grand Commander looks to be deserving of the seven-slot grille, and at 279,800 Chinese Yuan -- or around $44,000 -- it seems like a great way for Chinese families to get around in comfort and safety. Now we just have to figure out how to get over there so we can drive one.