Since production of the Commander ceased following the 2010 model year, Jeep has been without a three-row vehicle in its portfolio, leaving families too big for the five-passenger Grand Cherokee to look elsewhere. With the Yuntu Concept, that will be uncovered next week at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show, Jeep previews a potential solution for its larger family hauling needs.
The seven-passenger Yuntu is instantly recognizable as a Jeep proudly wearing the company's trademark seven-slot grille and square wheel arches. The front half of the design is Cherokee-like with skinny headlight housing, and a fast windshield rake.
In typical concept fashion, the Yuntu possess features that will turn heads, but have almost zero chance of making it to the production vehicle including monstrous wheels and suicide doors.
For power, the concept will use a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Conveniently, Fiat Chrysler has a PHEV system already in its arsenal available already seeing duty in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. If some of the hardware is shared between minivan and the big Jeep concept, it wouldn't be to huge surprise.
We'll surely find out more when Jeep uncovers the Yuntu in China on April 19. As far as the prospects of a vehicle based off of the Yuntu coming to the US, Jeep representatives here are only saying that the Yuntu is a China-only initiative specifically designed for their market.
Whatever happens, Jeep would wise to add a three-row model to its US lineup to do battle with the likes of the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder. Whether it's a production model spawned from the Yuntu Concept (Wagoneer, anyone?), or just its underpinnings, the sooner one lands in showroom here, the better.