Written by By Hanna Sarich, CNN
This August, Jeep revealed its first ever 7-passenger SUV . Unveiled in July during its annual Wrangler reveal party, the Cherokee 7-seater can be outfitted with three drivers, three passengers, a small engine, an automatic transmission and even a hat rack.
After nearly eight decades of built-to-order production, Jeep is hoping the 7-passenger SUV is a big deal.
“The Wrangler’s a classic icon of American motoring,” said Mike Manley, head of the Jeep brand. “We’re starting to fill in the gaps of our product portfolio with, we hope, a lot of success.”
Whether you’re a fan of the Wrangler or not, the Cherokee 7-seater has some star power attached. Jeep has enlisted Hollywood stars to model the SUV, including soap opera’s star Marla Sokoloff, fashion icon Rachel Roy and actor Ali Larter.
The Cherokee 7-seater isn’t the first in the family. The original five-seat Cherokee first appeared in the 1960s. In 1984, Jeep introduced the six-seat Cherokee Jeep Grand Cherokee , as well as two SUV configurations for commercial and truck uses.
As with most Jeep models, production of the Cherokee 7-seater is limited to a total of 1,500 units per year, and by “very limited” Manley said, adding that the “cast iron” Jeep Cherokee name will “be preserved and will remain on the Wrangler for many years to come.”
The 7-seater’s big selling point is added vehicle versatility, Manley said. “It has more space than any previous Wrangler, especially when carrying four people and their gear.”
The Cherokee 7-seater has enough space to accommodate three drivers with a total of 100 cubic feet of cargo space.
The Wrangler 7-seater has more than enough room to carry three passengers and their luggage, even the largest items or the largest human beings. Credit: Jeep/Nissan
Manley says that it makes a big difference when it comes to being able to get into a truck like the Jeep Wrangler, since it allows the driver to move more quickly, rather than standing in the back of the vehicle.
The American auto industry has seen a more profitable shift in recent years toward larger, more capable SUVs, thanks to improved fuel economy, shorter driving distances and, in turn, growing American car sales.
While international sales of the Wrangler have been growing, Jeep is also thinking more of China as a large potential market for its 7-seater vehicles.
“Just like the U.S., we see many exciting opportunities in other global markets, such as China,” Manley said.
China has already seen widespread use of larger SUVs by its drivers, primarily attracted by China’s emphasis on infrastructure and city-building, said Franz Fisch, Chrysler’s executive director of Chinese marketing
While Chinese consumers are very loyal to their respective brands, Fisch said that the Chinese brand brand is gaining strength. “More Chinese are buying foreign brands,” he said.