CHELSEA, Michigan — Jeep CEO Mike Manley said the mild update of the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is on target for next year and will be part of the brand's 75th anniversary celebration. But the Grand Cherokee's major redesign has been pushed back a year, maybe two.
"We are doing the refresh next year and then originally we were looking at late 2017 (for the redesign)," Manley said during an informal session with reporters here on Friday. "Now it will be late 2018, 2019."
This "is the biggest opportunity for us" to attract more high-end buyers, Manley said.
The Grand Wagoneer will be aimed at BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and other high-end SUV brands. Specific models that will be targeted were not mentioned. Pricing has not been announced. Likely targets are the upcoming BMW X7 and the current Land Rover LR4 and Mercedes-Benz GLS SUVs.
The Grand Wagoneer will be positioned as a niche vehicle and it will not approach Grand Cherokee's sales volumes, he said. Last year Jeep sold about 184,000 Grand Cherokees in the United States.
"The global volumes are relatively small" for high-end SUVs, he said.
During a press event at the automaker's proving grounds, Manley responded to questions about a news report that said suppliers had been informed that the redesigned Grand Cherokee is being delayed. Manley did not say whether the automaker's decision to spend $6 billion on Alfa Romeo's new product line had any impact on the decision to delay the Grand Cherokee's redesign.
"We always say that our product plans are fluid," he said. "We always need to make sure that they are relevant and that means there are naturally going to be changes as you develop (vehicles), particularly over a five-year period."
The current-generation Grand Cherokee went on sale in 2010.
Jeep has been a huge success and big profit contributor to the company. Last year, Fiat Chrysler sold 693,000 Jeep vehicles, with Grand Cherokee contributing about 27 percent of Jeep's sales volume. But the Grand Cherokee could be 9 years old by the time the redesigned model hits dealer showrooms.
Manley won't say what changes are planned for the 2017 Grand Cherokee. Generally speaking, a refresh is limited to such areas as a restyled grille and fascias, new interior trim, and other minor interior and exterior cosmetic changes. A 75th Anniversary Grand Cherokee model is expected.
However, Manley is optimistic the delay will not hurt Grand Cherokee sales.
"If you look at the acceptance of Grand Cherokee in the market place today it is still incredibly strong, and the level of refresh that we plan for next year I think will continue that momentum forward," he said.
Edmunds says: If the Jeep Grand Cherokee is on your shopping list, it might be worth waiting until next year to get the latest features and styling.