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Jeep Australia's future success is riding on the Toyota Prado-rivalling 2021 Grand Cherokee

Jeep has been testing the new Grand Cherokee L on local roads. (Image credit: Byron Mathioudakis)

Jeep has set the bar high, publicly stating its goal is to return to the top 10 brands in annual sales. To have any chance of achieving that the all-new Grand Cherokee must not only outperform the old model, the company will need to find success with the rest of its range.

For the record, Mercedes was 10th on the 2020 charts, notching 29,455 sales. Jeep managed just 5748 sales last year, which leaves a lot of work to do for the American brand to achieve its lofty target.

Of those 2020 sales, almost half (49.9 per cent) were the Grand Cherokee, which is now entering its final year on sale. The next-best performer is the still fresh Wrangler, which accounted for a further 20 per cent of Jeep’s total sales.

Jeep’s hopes of returning to its glory days rest heavily on the new Grand Cherokee wooing buyers back to a brand hit hard by recalls and quality questions. But, as the past demonstrates, a strong Grand Cherokee correlates directly to a strong Jeep brand.

The company’s best years were built on the back of the outgoing Grand Cherokee, which accounted for 54 per cent of its sales in its 2014 high point.

There are reasons for optimism for Jeep. For starters, the new Grand Cherokee is fresh from the ground up, so provides a clean break from the recall plagued current model.

Secondly, large SUV buyers seem to like the more rugged offerings. The biggest seller in the market, by far, is the Toyota Prado, with the Isuzu MU-X the third best-seller in 2020.

Jeep global president Christian Meunier told Australian media recently that making customers happy will be the key to the brand’s return to the top 10.

“I can see a very good fit between the brand and Australia. I don’t know why we couldn’t get there,” he said.

“Top 10, for me, is a no-brainer, but it has to be done the right way … and in a sustainable way: taking care of the customers, making the customers happy.”

In fact, it looks like Jeep is doing everything it can for the new Grand Cherokee to be a success in Australia, even bring the car out here for validation and testing on local roads.

It is also understood that the Grand Cherokee L will make its way to the outback, where engineers will be able to fine-tune its towing capabilities, as well as observe the new model in hot climates.

However, getting the Grand Cherokee right will only be half the battle (possibly literally if the sales splits continue) with the rest of the range needing investment to alleviate the pressure on the big SUV.

The merger between Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot-Citroen may help with rejuvenating Jeep’s smaller SUV line-up, with scope to platform share with the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 as well as the Citroen C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross, as well as Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Dodge.

For now, though, Jeep’s short and long-term sales success is riding on the Grand Cherokee.