We expected it to be bigger. Much bigger.
It’s been widely circulated that Jeep would introduce a 7-seater large SUV called the ‘Grand Commander’ for the Chinese market long before the company themselves confirmed it. With less emphasis on off-road capability (something they hold onto religiously for the rest of their range) and more towards on-road manners and refinement, the Grand Commander would shamelessly pander towards the Chinese market with imposing styling, lots of cabin space, and a market-friendly powertrain.
Well, they’ve delivered on their promise at the Beijing autoshow, except in one critical manner. When Jeep announced the three-row SUV was due for a debut at the 2018 Auto China show, we expected it to be absolutely massive to differentiate it from the Grand Cherokee. But in reality, it just isn’t.
The numbers don’t lie. The Grand Commander is 50.8mm narrower and 50.8mm shorter than a Grand Cherokee, and the wheelbase is 101mm shy too. These numbers are significant given that the Grand Commander will be sold as a 7-seater with three rows of seats, as opposed to the 5-seater two-row configuration of the (larger) Grand Cherokee.
Also smaller than the Grand Cherokee is the engine. The new Grand Commander will get motivation from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged mill, the one that debuted in the new Wrangler, albeit in a detuned form making just 172kW and 350Nm. It will get a nine-speed automatic though, with power either going to two- or four-wheels.
It was suggested that perhaps the Grand Commander could make a debut outside China, given that there is a gap in the global Jeep lineup for a three-row large SUV. However, looking at the configuration and size of the new Grand Commander, it seems more likely that Jeep will queue up a Grand Wagoneer for every other market instead. That car should be physically larger than the Grand Cherokee and be significantly plusher too, as befitting what would be the brand’s flagship offering.