“It’s literally halfway between the two,” Jeep president and CEO Mike Manley said at the New York auto show. “It’s well-positioned from a size point of view between the two vehicles.”
“Development is certainly on track and I’m very pleased with what I’m seeing,” he said.
As to whether the new crossover would follow the traditional, blocky design of the Renegade or the more modern style of the Cherokee, Manley said, “we’re going to have to wait” until the Jeep debuts. However, he intimated that the new Jeep’s look will be a big change from the Patriot and Compass.
“What you’re going to see is progressive styling,” he said. “You don’t want to be average, that’s the problem. If you’re average, no one’s going to notice.”
In 2017, a new version of the Jeep Wrangler will debut (the 2014 model is pictured). Despite rumors the model might switch to a more carlike unibody design, Manley confirmed that, “for now, it’s body-on-frame.“
As to the next Jeep Wrangler in general, Manley said his team is working to make sure the vehicle is even more capable than today’s version of the famous off-roader. While there will be improvements updates, he said he doesn’t expect the changes to ostracize any buyers.
“I think people who love Wrangler are going to be very pleased,” he said. “I can assure you that we’re not going to disappoint anybody.”
Reports suggest the next Jeep Wrangler may use aluminum body components to help shave weight and improve fuel efficiency, and that a turbodiesel engine could also be offered.
In 2018, Jeep will launch a model at the top of its range. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is expected to be a three-row SUV designed to take on the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and even Range Rover SUVs. Development of the Grand Wagoneer is still far from completion, but Manley said it’s important for Jeep to stake its claim in the luxury-SUV market again.
“We had a rightful place in that segment years ago with [the old] Grand Wagoneer. We withdrew from the top end of the segment. This is a great opportunity to reassert ourselves,” he said.
Although the large Jeep will be focused above all on cossetting passengers on-road, Manley doesn’t plan to ignore the capability for which Jeep has made its name.
“You can certainly make a capable Grand Wagoneer,” he said. “Given the size of that vehicle, will it be as capable as Grand Cherokee? Probably no. But capability is top of mind because it’s part of our DNA.”