Wider and longer than the existing model, the car should address criticisms of a lack of rear-seat space although it will still be a five-seater when many other large SUVs – like the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90 – are now offering seven seats.
However, a 'Grander' Cherokee is likely to follow, which will be longer still and feature a seven-seat layout.
With European production beginning in Austria in the first quarter of 2005, the entry-level petrol car will use a 3.7-litre V6 engine from the Cherokee to replace the 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine in the current Grand Cherokee, while the 4.7-litre V8 will offer improved performance and fuel consumption.
Topping the new Grand Cherokee range will be a 5.7-litre V8 which boasts 370lb-ft of torque, but when cruising shuts down four cylinders – effectively allowing the engine to operate as a 2.8-litre – fuel economy is improved by up to 20%.
New independent suspension at the front with increased wheel travel will ensure the Grand Cherokee remains just as capable off road, while rack-and-pinion steering offers more precise feel. Automatic transmissions on all engines will offer five-speeds for improved fuel consumption.
Although the UK engine line-up is yet to be finalised, a diesel engine from within the DaimlerChrysler group will also be offered as with the current five-cylinder 2.7 CRD.
The Jeep Cherokee is also due for a change by 2005 with the introduction of six-speed manual tranmsissions.