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]