Jeep will expand its go-anywhere ethos with a wider range of models that can tackle the urban jungle as well as the real thing.
As part of parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' annual shareholder meeting, Jeep boss Mike Manley provided an overview of the SUV brand's five-year plan, which includes 11 new models, all with plug-in hybrid options, by 2022.
Key among the new additions is the long-rumoured baby Jeep that will sit under the current Renegade, the highly-anticipated Wrangler ute and, at the top of the range, new flagship SUVs that revive the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer nameplates.
While the majority of its models will continue to be capable off-roaders, Jeep is also taking advantage of the never-ending popularity of urban SUVs to build more street-focused variants that will offer better fuel consumption, improved driving dynamics and the latest in connectivity.
Outlined in the planned roll-out of the new models (above), the smallest SUV - which could receive the stillborn Jeepster badge that was pulled from the Renegade at the last minute - is expected to be built in India and targeted at highly-populated regions like China and India, and be exclusively offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
That would allow the Renegade to retain its premium pricetag over similarly sized city-focused SUVs, while introducing both plug-in and fully electric models that would meet stricter emission requirements in Europe and other developing regions.
Moving up, the compact Compass, which arrived in Australian showrooms earlier this year, will be overhauled by 2022, as will the slightly larger Cherokee. At the same time, Jeep has indicated it will introduce a three-row SUV to sit alongside the Cherokee but with a lower ride height and more urban focus.
According to the plan, the next-generation Grand Cherokee will retain its five-seat configuration but a similarly-sized seven-seater will join the street-biased wagon while the range-topping Wagoneer models will take on luxury European rivals from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi and likely share their underpinnings with prestige variants being planned by sister brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati.
Each of the models will have extreme variants that can be categorised under a series of 'Hawk' badges; all Trail-rated off-road versions will be badged Trail Hawk and high performance models will be called Track Hawk, as is the case today, while a new series designed specifically to handle high-speed sand dune driving will be called Desert Hawk.
The first of those appears to be based on the Cherokee and is due to be launched in early 2019. It has been created to handle eight specific engineering standards unique to driving in sand dunes, and is expected to feature higher-capacity cooling components, stronger suspension settings and rally-style wheels and tyres.
Beyond the increased model line-up, Jeep announced a new connected mobility service - dubbed Jeep Wave - that is intended to cement its community of off-road enthusiasts. Among the services it plans to provide (above), Wrangler and 'Hawk' owners will earn points when purchasing vehicles that can be redeemed in a car-sharing program, while general consumers can buy into monthly subscriptions that allows access to a variety of vehicles. There will also be a 'Badge of Honour' scheme where off-roaders earn - and can share - accolades for completing certain trails or adventures, a wider social network and a commercial platform where users can purchase items, such as tickets to sporting matches or movies, through the infotainment system or Jeep Wave app.
Alongside the Jeep brand, Manley confirmed intentions for the Ram trucks division to develop a high-performance pick-up to rival the popular Ford F-150 Raptor.
To be based on the equivalent-sized Ram 1500, the TRX will be powered by a version of the Hellcat 6.2-litre supercharged V8 that features in high-performance models like the Dodge Challenger Demon and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that just launched in Australia this week.
Manley also indicated Ram plans to develop what it calls a 'mid-size/metric ton' vehicle by 2022, indicating it could take on the likes of the popular Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux with a dual-cab ute.
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