Buoyed by the success of the Renegade crossover, the go-anywhere brand is plotting a more comprehensive line-up
Matt Burt
18 October 2016

Jeep is planning a significant range expansion at either end of its product range, with both a compact crossover to sit below the Renegade and a three-row SUV called the Grand Wagoneer in the pipeline.

At the entry level, encouraging sales of the Renegade and the recent launch of the Nissan Qashqai-rivaling Compass have encouraged Jeep to consider an crossover less than four metres long that will belie its compact dimensions by retaining the rugged traits for which Jeeps are best known.

At the top end of the range, meanwhile, Jeep’s plan to bring back its storied Grand Wagoneer nameplate on a three-row SUV is gathering pace.

A business plan for the Grand Wagoneer, which will sit above the Grand Cherokee in the range, has been on the table for more than five years, but Jeep has apparently now started hinting at the car’s appearance by including a front grille design in a dealer presentation.

At last month’s Paris motor show, company chief Mike Manley said progress is being made: “It is still moving forward [but] it’s a longer-term programme due to the technology that’s going to deployed in that vehicle. I’m pleased with where we are at the moment. It will be an exciting nameplate to bring back.”

Jeep is considering taking on top-of-the-range premium SUVs such as the Range Rover Autobiography, with Manley seeing “no maximum price ceiling” for his brand’s products.

With Jeep customers tending to gravitate towards the higher trim levels and ‘speciality’ models in the ranges, Manley is confident there is scope for stretching the brand further upmarket, particularly in its home US market.

“I don’t think that there is a maximum price ceiling for Jeep,” he said. “If you look at the players that segment in the US, you have Range Rover, Mercedes and Porsche but you also have the American players with vehicles like the Chevrolet Suburban.

“Those cars typically start at around $63,000 and finish at about $99,000, but beyond that you have ‘speciality’ vehicles such as Range Rover Autobiography or the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which go well above $100,000.

“For me Grand Wagoneer, if done well, will be able to play all the way through the bulk of that segment. Pushing the car up to $130-140,000 may be possible, but first we need to establish Grand Wagoneer.”

Jeep’s next compact crossover

The success of the Renegade has encouraged the company to weigh up a B-segment rival to cars such as the Ford Ecosport.

Manley said: “I’m pretty confident that it is going to be a viable segment for us in the future.”

He wouldn’t be drawn on a date when such a vehicle might appear and said: “The reality is that we have to go through all of the usual business planning processes first."

Jeep’s offering in the class would “still have to be capable” and possess the brand’s go-anywhere DNA. That poses a challenge when it comes to developing a smaller vehicle, said Manley: “When you think of some of the elements that make a vehicle capable, such as ground clearance, the geography of the vehicle makes it more difficult.

“You have to be very careful in terms of the geometry of the vehicle, plus the kind of four-wheel-drive system that you employ.”

There are existing reports of a B-segment SUV being planned by Jeep India, although it isn’t clear if is a project aimed mainly at the local market.

That vehicle, apparently codenamed 526 and less than four metres long, is likely to be follow the rugged design cues of the Renegade and will be the most affordable SUV in Jeep India’s range.

It is to be built in the Fiat plant in Ranjangaon, India, which is one of the production sites for the new Jeep Compass.

Our Verdict

Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass is a rebadged version of the old Dodge Caliber. It is a poor Kuga or Qashqai alternative by most measures

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Comments
6

29 September 2016
I thought that is the market the Renegade competes in already?

3 October 2016
Yes, the Renegade already competes with Juke and Ecosport. What Manley appears to be talking about is a smaller Panda 4x4-based entry that would essentially create a new segment. The VW Taigun would have been there, and the Suzuki Ignis is kinda there now...

18 October 2016
They really think they can compete against the Range Rover? Why not try catching the Range Sport and Discovery before aiming for the stars? It's like trying to run before you can walk.

18 October 2016
I can't work out why they have not yet reskinned the Fiat Panda as a Jeep entry-level model with a starting price point below the £10k mark. It can't take much to make sure it has 4/5 star NCAP either. Suzuki have got a head start with the Ignis for sure.

19 October 2016
I always feel like they come across like hand-rubbing salespeople when they only talk about price points.

"We could sell this car for a hundred grand, a hundred and fifty grand, two hundred grand!" Yes, but that doesn't mean it'll be any good.

Whatever you think of SUVs, Land Rover and Porsche charge top money for what are, objectively speaking, thoroughly engineered and well thought through products.

They don't just fish the prices out of the toilet bowl.

Not that Jeeps aren't any good but the range doesn't feel as coherent. The new Compass looks OK, the Renegade is rather good but the still-sold-in-America Patriot is horrible. The Grand Cherokee is best described as 'go on then'. And the Cherokee already looks anachronistic, a car from another manufacturer that's been bussed in under a pseudonym.

There's another issue to address. Fundamentally, we all know that Jeeps are Fiats in wellies these days. Which is why honking that you can charge over a hundred grand for one comes across as a bit jejune.

19 October 2016
I think the sub Renegade will be more aimed at the Suzuki Jimmny, a ground up new one is due shortly. At least Jeep is trying to cover all budgets compared to Land Rover where nothing exists below £30k. Funny how they both started at similar levels. Can't exactly say Land Rover is more reliable as there both poor. You just pay more to sit in slightly better quality whilst waiting for recovery.

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