Ever since it appeared on the European market, Jeep Cherokee (KL) has not exactly lit the world on fire with its sales numbers. Even the larger and more premium Grand Cherokee is outselling the Cherokee in Europe. Jeep has attempted to remedy the situation by refreshing the Cherokee for 2019, tying it visually to the Grand Cherokee and offering slightly more upscale amenities, but it may be too late for this generation of Cherokee to become successful in Europe. There are several reasons that the Cherokee is in this situation.
First of all, the Cherokee and other compact US-wide (CUSW) platform vehicles were not conceived with the European market in mind. The CUSW platform was designed to fit a V6 engine, something most European buyers do not need, especially in a class where 4-cylinder turbo diesel engines are so prevalent. Designing CUSW to accommodate a V6 has had a negative impact on overall packaging. The Cherokee is much longer than is likely preferred in the European market. The Cherokee also has a large front overhang, which adds additional weight and negatively impacts city fuel economy.
Price in Europe does not play to the Cherokee’s favor. Yes, it does have a relatively big engine for European standards. The pre-refresh Cherokee offered a 2.0-liter Euro 6b diesel engine. After the facelift, it offers a 2.2-liter Euro 6d TEMP diesel as a base engine. Many competitors offer 1.5-liter or 1.6-liter diesel engines, but these competitors also weigh less than the Cherokee.
There is also a 10% tariff on cars imported from the US – another setback for the Cherokee. This tariff does not exist for Mexican or in the near future for Canadian made cars.
All of this has led to a very different positioning compared to the American market. In many comparison tests, it has been compared to an Audi Q5 and similar cars. Compared to those vehicles, it lacks a platform with a longitudinally positioned engines, a refined suspension, and a V6 diesel engine.
A solution to this problem would be the cancelation of the Jeep Cherokee for Europe, at least in its current form. It can be replaced by one, if not two new models. One of these new models can inherit the Cherokee name for the sake of continuity.
The first solution would be a switch to the Giorgio platform for the next-generation Cherokee. In that case, the base engine could be the 2.0-liter GME turbocharged 4-cylinder. If necessary, a GME turbo 6-cylinder could be an upscale engine offering. This would allow a further differentiation from a Compass in the North American market, but it would also allow more premium pricing in Europe. This premium pricing structure is what has been attempted with the current Cherokee (KL), but has not succeeded due to the reasons listed above.
The second option is a car which would not be sold as a Jeep in North America. This would be a three-row small U.S.-wide (SUSW) based Jeep. This would basically be a long wheelbase Compass with a longer rear overhang. Such a car could have much larger interior dimensions than the current Cherokee while offering similar exterior dimensions. This car would directly go against European offerings like Peugeot 5008, Škoda Kodiaq or VW Tiguan Allspace (known as new Tiguan in the US).
The price point of the three-row SUSW-based Jeep would not be much higher compared to the Compass with similar powertrain and trim level options. Jeep already has a low D-segment three-row in the official plans for some markets. By offering this in Europe along with a Giorgio-based Cherokee, they could effectively cater to two markets with these vehicles: mainstream and upscale.