From what I've read, it appears the next generation Wrangler and Cherokee (due out around 2001/2) may share a lot of parts. You may even think of the next Cherokee as somewhat of a Wrangler station wagon, much like the Dakar concept vehicle was. Chrysler has gotten a lot of positive feedback on the Dakar, so I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see those two vehicles sort of merge together into more of a "family", rather than stay separate as they currently are.
From everything I've read and heard about the 2000 lineup, Jeep is getting back to basic with the Cherokee. Speculation: Grand Cherokee is going to be the yuppie won't leave pavement vehicle, and the Cherokee will be moving to better off-road capabilities. A family sized Wrangler. This is what I hope anyway. Personaly I don't like the Jeepster. But the Dakar is great. I hope they keep the roof mounted tire, the jerry cans on the back and the built in shovel. When I outgrow my Wrangler, I hope the Dakar is in production.
the Grand Cherokee will continue to be the jeep "Flagship", as a luxury SUV with good on-road capability and good off-road capability. (they just improved the off-road capability in 99). Jeep's outlook on the "Yuppie" thing is, "If its got our name on it, It is assumed that it *WILL* see a life of hardcore off-road usage, so we'll build it to suit", and I think that shows.
And I can confirm, the next generation cherokee will be based on the Dakar concept, with a few more tweaks (mostly to bring the cargo space up to the cherokee's level and probobly beyond).
there is a Mini-Ute in development by Chrysler, but it will be sold as a Plymouth, and aimed at the Rav4/CR-V type vehicles, and have nothing to do with Jeep.
Jeep will continue producing their 4x4's with coil sprung live axles front and rear, as conclusive testing has shown that independant suspension can't quite hack it as well as a live axle can off-road. they *ARE* working on something in the skunkworks akin to a cross-axle suspension, but who knows what will become of that.
I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point, Jeep converts their vehicles to independent suspensions - both front and rear. They've been teasing us for several years now with this on concept vehicles like the ICON and Jeepster.
If Jeep goes that route, I'm sure it will because they've developed an independent suspension that is better than the current setup. It can be done as witnessed by the Hummer and several other dedicated off-road vehicles.