The March, 1999 issue of Automobile magazine has a great deal of information regarding the Jeep Commander Concept vehicle, the rumored Jeep Freedom, and the next generation Cherokee (in addition to some great pictures of the Commander and a sketch of the Freedom). If you haven't already picked up this issue, run out to your local newsstand and do it now.
The two page article on the Jeep Commander has some great photos of the exterior, interior, and fuel cell. The article doesn't contain anything that we haven't already reported, but it talks about how the Commander appears to be an earth-friendly decendent of the Grand Cherokee.
Page 30's "Inside the Industry" column by Paul Lienert, titled "Heaps of Jeeps", is a really good look into the near future of the Jeep platform. As we reported last week, the Jeep Freedom is being considered for production (although not likely as a "Jeep"). Its target market is the same people who buy the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V. The Freedom is about the size of the CR-V, with 4 doors and some Jeep-like features like the round headlamps and the 7-vertical slot grill. Rumor has it that the frame of the Freedom is Neon-based. According to the article:
...the Freedom maintains a distinctive wedge shape. It has a raked roof, a low windshield, and prominent fender flares. There are small air vents in its front fenders just above and aft of the fender flares. The Freedom's side glass appears to narrow top to bottom because of the vehicle's unusually high belt line...
The article goes one to say that the Freedom is expected to have all-wheel drive, and a 2.0L, 140-bhp, 4-cylinder engine. It is expected to sell for about $22,000.
There's also some information on the next-generation Cherokee, expected in 2001 (when the new Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio is completed). According to the article:
The latest prototype still resembles a slightly smaller version of the Grand Cherokee, but it's a bit shorter and taller. One of the focus group participants describes the profile as "somewhat like a Land Rover Discovery from the side, minus the raised roof."
The Cherokee features large round headlamps - apparently an emerging retro styling cue for Jeep, borrowed from the Wrangler and the Dakar concept - and the traditional Jeep grille.