Jeep Platform Splitting: Alfa Romeo To Underpin Grand Cherokee, Ladder Frame For Grand Wagoneer Photo:
Kez Casey | Jan, 12 2017 | 0 Comments

Fiat Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has gone on record at the Detroit Auto Show revealing major product plans for the future of the Jeep brand.

With cost-saving from platform sharing a top priority for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Jeep will turn to Alfa Romeo for the platform to underpin the next Grand Cherokee.

The current Grand Cherokee shares its platform with the Mercedes-Benz GLE in a deal struck during Mercedes-Benz’ short-lived ownership of Chrysler. The next generation Grand Cherokee will likely utilise a version of the rear-wheel drive architecture that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and upcoming Stelvio SUV.

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

Though both Alfa Romeo models are much smaller than the current Grand Cherokee, flexibility with the modular platform’s design will allow the Grand Cherokee to occupy a larger footprint, with all-wheel drive also pre-engineered into the platform.

No mention has been made of the possibility of engine downsizing, but with high-output turbocharged six-cylinder engines forming part of the Alfa Romeo product plan some of the large-capacity V8 engines available in the current Grand Cherokee range could potentially be replaced with more efficient six-cylinder units.

Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo Giulia

Jeep is also expected to re-engineer the platform to include a taller ride height and greater off-road capability with a more heavy-duty 4x4 system and upgraded suspension components to maintain the Grand Cherokee’s rugged reputation.

At the other end of the scale Marchionne dropped a bombshell with the revelation that the recently announced Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, initially to be positioned as a prestige rival for the likes of Range Rover, won’t ride on a monocoque platform like the Grand Cherokee, but will instead adopt body-on-frame construction.

Ram 3500's ladder frame
Ram 3500's ladder frame

While a separate ladder frame chassis offers potential benefits in terms of off-road ability, issues with refinement and handling could keep the larger Jeep models from breaking into the high-price end of the large SUV market.

Cost savings are again the likely driver behind the move, with a chassis from one of FCA’s Ram trucks the most likely donor platform. The move won’t see Jeep go it alone however, with competitors in the US, including the Cadillac Escalade, also underpinned by a separate chassis.

The move does however represent a major shift in product strategy for the Wagoneer siblings, as previous suggestions from the brand pointed to a unibody construction, offering higher levels of refinement and handling prowess than body-on-frame construction allows.

2012 Jeep J-12 pickup concept
2012 Jeep J-12 pickup concept

Marchionne’s comments come after Jeep officially announced that the Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, and a Wrangler-based pickup truck would join the brand’s product range by 2020.

MORE: Jeep News and Reviews

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