Next Jeep Grand Cherokee due this year, FCA design chief says

Ralph Gilles, FCA's head of design, may have slipped up in a recent Facebook Live event.

It's almost time to say "out with the old" to this guy.

Boy, has the current Jeep Grand Cherokee lived a long time. We've known the current model in essentially the same form since 2011, but Fiat Chrysler's rugged off-road brand is nearly ready to usher in its replacement. That's the word from the automaker's chief designer, at least.

Muscle Cars and Trucks first reported on comments FCA Head of Design Ralph Gilles made during a Facebook Live event on Wednesday. During the livestream, he told the audience the current Grand Cherokee is "getting on now, and we're about to replace it later this year." Before the video ends he seems to confirm its arrival one more time, after noting we'll see the new SUV before the end of this year.

Jeep declined to comment for this story.

The current Grand Cherokee has been a runaway success for the brand and easily helped make the Jeep division a crown jewel of FCA. Gilles also made mention that the Grand Cherokee is one of the vehicles he's most proud of and expressed his admiration for the SUV. It's hard to disagree when the brand makes a 707-horsepower Trackhawk version.

Details on what to expect from the next-generation model are almost nonexistent, though FCA has sprinkled a few clues over the past couple of years. This time last year, the automaker announced plans to retool its Mack Avenue Engine Complex in Detroit to the tune of $1.6 billion.

The big investment will see engine production leave and Grand Cherokee production enter and a plug-in hybrid version is likely in the cards. In last year's announcement, CEO Mike Manley said the investment will produce at least four plug-in hybrid Jeeps. 

FCA will also build the next Grand Cherokee at its Jefferson North plant. Why production will take place in two separate plants, we don't know, but the automaker said production should start in the first half of 2021.

One other small bit of information is the likelihood the upcoming Grand Cherokee will share an Alfa Romeo platform, specifically the Giorgio architecture. Right now, the platform underpins the Stelvio SUV and Giulia sedan. The late FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told Motor Authority back in 2018 this platform had been modified for the Grand Cherokee to accommodate its dimensions.

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