WITH ITS FINANCES apparently under control thanks to a new alliance with Fiat, Chrysler has at last announced that the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee - first revealed early last year - is set for a US release in the second quarter of 2010.
Speaking with The Motor Report today, Chrysler Australia's Jerry Stamoulis confirmed that the stylish next-generation Grand Cherokee will get a local launch in the very near future.
"At this stage, we're expecting either late 2010 or early 2011. We're aiming for as soon as possible, but the latest will be early next year," Mr Stamoulis told TMR.
"It's a beautiful car. With all of the great equipment that's been announced, including the Quadra Lift air suspension, and it will also be the first vehicle we'll receive with the new 3.6 litre V6."
The 3.6 litre Pentastar V6 produces 209kW and 352Nm of torque. A 5.7 litre Hemi V8 making 260kW and 528Nm of torque will top the Grand Cherokee range in the US, but its availability for Australia is not yet clear.
In Australia, the current generation Grand Cherokee is powered by a 3.0 litre V6 diesel producing 160kW and 510Nm of torque, while the Grand Cherokee SRT8 features a 6.1 litre V8, developing 313kW and 569Nm of torque.
The new Grand Cherokee represents the first new model launch under the auspices of new CEO, Sergio Marchionne. Its upcoming launch follows a presentation late last year that outlined the Chrysler Group's future.
“There is some question on what we’re going to be able to achieve in 2010, being the first year of the revamped organization," Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said at the event.
“Obviously there’ll be a rationalization of the product portfolio.”
Chrysler says the new Jeep Grand Cherokee offers improved handling both on and off the road, going so far as to describe the ride as better than that of a BMW X5.
While speculation last year suggested that control of the Chrysler brand in Australia could be in contention, Mr Stamoulis said today that no major changes to the US carmaker's local management are expected.
"The only changes we'll see for Chrysler Australia is that we'll be moving into the offices of Iveco - which is owned by Fiat - in the near future. Otherwise no other changes are on the cards," Mr Stamoulis said.