Jeep was one of the pioneers in the sport-utility segment before it exploded, yet when the train left the station, the iconic rough-and-tumble brand seemed to have been left behind. But now even while the band plays on the sinking deck of the SS Chrysler, Jeep is trying to catch up and stay afloat with this new offering lining up for the privilege.

According to the latest spy shots and reports, the next Jeep Grand Cherokee looks prone to grow a bit grander. Once considered the sportscar of the SUV segment, the 2010 Grand Cherokee will have a noticeably longer wheelbase, longer rear overhang and likely third-row seating. As the project was likely started while under Daimler's wing, the new Grand Cherokee is anticipated to borrow architecture from Mercedes SUVs like the ML and GL. Although Chrysler apparently killed off the diesel option on the current model for the new year, it may return for the new model, joining the same range of V6 and HEMI V8 engines that may expand to include a HEMI hybrid (Hymi, anyone?), though don't expect a successor to the hot-rod Grand Cherokee SRT8 any time soon. The design, meanwhile, will still include such trademark styling cues as the seven-slat grille, four round headlights and squared-off wheel arches, but expect the overall shape to borrow from the Trailhawk concept from the Detroit Auto Show of two years ago. The new Grand Cherokee may make its debut later this year at either the Chicago or New York show, so stay tuned.

[Source: Car and Driver]