When John Heywood said, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ the same sentiments echoed throughout the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. Jeep’s design, and engineering team persevered through a handful of tremendous obstacles. When Jeep initiated the redesign of the exemplary Jeep Grand Cherokee, the expansion also added three-row seating.
Three-row seating is a vital commodity in today’s market. So eruptive that Jeep initiated the release of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L before the classic two-row Grand Cherokee. The market required a three-row segment from the automaker, and boy did they understand the assignment.
These were abrupt modifications, and Jeep responded promptly with great reason.
“Seventy-five percent of the market is made up of three-row SUVs. If we wanted to grow our market, we had to compete with a three-row vehicle too.” -Jeep Chief Engineer Tom Seel.
In addition, both the Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L support the same forward doors, and both Grand Cherokee variants carry the same B-pillar forward. The team process began with the two-door design before deliberation trickled down to prioritizing the three-row. The path wasn’t easy, and that frequently goes overlooked simply because of body and component similarities.
Lead designer Mark Allen and his team prepared both SUVs simultaneously. The Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L come from the same plant. The Jeep SUVs sheet metal also needed the same principal locating points on the assembly line. To sum up, locating points, the robot can just lift the pieces for each SUV without building out a second line.
Allen’s biggest challenge was to make a three-row the same size as the two-row. Today it’s easy to see no obstacle is too significant for the engineers at Jeep to handle. However, Seel emphasized the team’s diligence because both SUVs are often confused with one another.
Jeep didn’t want the three-row to resemble its larger cousin, the Grand Wagoneer. So the most distinctive features are that the Grand Cherokee holds a faster back while the Grand Cherokee L includes a squared-off third row for that vital headspace.
The 2022 Grand Cherokee measures 11.4 inches shorter than the Grand Cherokee L, and the wheelbase is also five inches shorter.
“It was a success in the end, but there were a lot of us in the design studio muttering, ‘How are we going to do this?’” -Allen
The timing was tight, and even the clay model didn’t receive much molding, which is a sure-fire recipe for slowing down the team. Fortunately, Jeep knows that delivering SUVs that grants enthusiast the freedom to go anywhere is an intense process from start to finish. As a result, the engineers can catch their breath and continue to make tremendous strides now that both vehicles have launched.
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