Jeep Grand Cherokee Gets Three-row Seat Design for 2021 Model
Inactive Detroit engine plant will now serve as the production site for the roomier version of Jeep’s premier SUV.
Jeep has been on a roll the past several years. It brought the Cherokee nameplate back to North America starting with the 2014 model year. It introduced us to the Renegade back in 2015. The second-generation Compass came a couple of years later. We experienced the all-new JL Wrangler in late 2017. Early this year, we drove the facelifted Cherokee. The 2020 Gladiator is coming. Jeep has introduced new versions of the Grand Cherokee, including the Trailhawk and Trackhawk, and made improvements to it for the better part of a decade, but at its core, the WK2 dates back to MY 2011.
Now comes word from The Detroit News that the all-new, next-generation Grand Cherokee will come out as a 2021 model and be available in two- and three-row configurations. It’s an important vehicle for the brand in more ways than one. Not only does the Grand Cherokee compete in a popular segment, but the newest version of it will give FCA a great reason to reopen its Mack Avenue Engine II plant in Detroit and address one of its major problems: production capacity.
According to the Detroit News, “Fiat Chrysler’s North American assembly plants are currently running at 92 percent capacity.” That’s in stark contrast to Ford and GM, who were running at 81 and 72 percent, respectively, through November. Things are worse at FCA’s Jefferson North plant that currently produces the Grand Cherokee, Grand Cherokee SRT, and Dodge Durango. Those are so popular that the facility is operating at 130 percent capacity and offering extra shifts just to meet demand.
To make Mack II (aka “Plant X”), which has been idle since 2012, a full production facility, FCA will have to add at least a body and paint shop, according to sources familiar with the story. Once Mack II starts manufacturing three-row Grand Cherokees, FCA will start retooling the Jefferson North Assembly Plant so it can crank out even more of those, as well as two-row Grand Cherokees.
FCA will likely begin construction on Mack II sometime next year. At some point in 2019, it’ll also start setting up the Warren Truck Assembly Plant to crank out another 2021 three-row Jeep: the full-size Wagoneer.