Take a quick look around the light-truck market, and it's clear that diesels are the hottest thing on dealer lots right now - but oddly enough, it's not currently possible to get an oil-burner in a full-size SUV. Jeep has apparently identified this massive hole in the market and will announce later today that a diesel Grand Cherokee will be available for the 2007 model year.

Details are a bit sketchy at this point, but it sounds as if the vehicle will use a 3.0L Bluetec common-rail diesel from Mercedes - an engine that makes 221 HP and 376 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is said to be improved by "30 percent" (we're guessing this is compared to the somewhat thirsty Hemi V8), yielding a driving range of 425 miles on one tank. Towing capacity is also supposed to be impressive, but that claim will need to be evaluated further once we have more information. Like its smaller Liberty brother, the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel will be shipped from the factory with a tank of B5 biodiesel blend.  

While it will be the only full-size diesel SUV available in the US when it debuts in the first quarter of next year, we have to remind Chrysler that it isn't the first (as they claim) - GM's Suburban, Jimmy, and Blazer were available with the 6.2L Detroit Diesel way back in 1982, and more recently, Ford offered its monstrous Excursion with a Powerstroke diesel engine until that vehicle's demise last year.

[Source: The Chrysler Group; the press release is available after the jump]

 

You can't drive a motor vehicle on Michigan's Mackinac Island, but that doesn't mean you can't make a major announcement about one.
That's what Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda will do later today (4 P.M. EDT) during a keynote speech at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference-a big, big deal in Michigan where movers and shakers gather each year to talk business, policy and politics on the popular rock in the northern end of Lake Huron.
LaSorda will reveal to the group that the Chrysler Group will offer the first diesel-powered full-size SUV to the U.S. market. The Detroit-built 2007 Jeep ® Grand Cherokee equipped with a 3.0-liter common rail turbo diesel engine arrives in showrooms during the first quarter of 2007.
The Grand Cherokee's diesel engine is based on technology developed by Mercedes-Benz, which is the center of expertise in diesels for DaimlerChrysler. The Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel will offer class-leading torque, outstanding towing capacity ... and up to 30 percent improvement in fuel economy, giving it an estimated driving range of 425 miles.
LaSorda will announce that each diesel-powered Grand Cherokee will leave the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit filled with B5-five percent biodiesel fuel. Earlier this year, he told the Detroit Economic Club the Chrysler Group will endorse the use of B20-20 percent biodiesel in the 2007 Dodge Ram for military, government and commercial customers