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Jeep goes global with a hybrid seven-seater concept named Yuntu

Why it matters to you

Jeep's approach to building a hybrid crossover for China might shed insight into Chrysler's next high-riding model.

The global crossover boom gives Jeep the golden opportunity to expand well beyond the boundaries of its home market. The American brand will travel to next week’s Shanghai Auto Show to introduce a concept named Yuntu that previews an upcoming addition to its lineup.

An upright, seven-slot grille immediately identifies the Yuntu as a member of the Jeep clan. The crossover takes the company’s current design language in a bolder, more contemporary direction by adopting styling cues such as horizontal LEDs connected to the grille and chiseled surfaces.

The roof panel and the A-pillars are completely blacked out to reduce visual mass, while a thin strip of chrome trim that runs from the side mirrors to the top of the D-pillars adds an elegant touch to the concept’s profile. Out back, the thin tail lamps echo the units on the front fascia. All told, the Yuntu looks more modern than any Jeep in recent memory.

The cabin is accessed via a pair of suicide doors, a feature that certainly won’t make the jump from the show floor to the showroom. And while Jeep isn’t ready to reveal the Yuntu’s cabin, we can already tell it offers seating for seven passengers spread out over three rows of seats. The automaker doesn’t currently have a seven-seater model in its lineup, and it hasn’t sold one since it deep-sixed the Commander in 2010.

PHEV emblems on the doors confirm┬áthe Yuntu uses a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, a technology Jeep wants to bring to the market in the coming years. Technical specifications haven’t been made public yet.

The Jeep Yuntu won’t remain at the concept stage for very long. It’s a thinly veiled preview of an upcoming production model that will debut on the Chinese market in the coming months. Production will take place locally, according to Motor1, and at the time of writing it doesn’t sound like the next Jeep will be sold in the United States.

At least, it won’t arrive here with the emblematic seven-slot grille. Insiders suggest Jeep will build a Chrysler-badged variant of the Yuntu alongside the Cherokee in Belvidere, Illinois. The yet-unnamed crossover will wear a brand-specific look, but it will be all but identical to its Jeep-badged sibling under the sheet metal.