Jeep needs a pickup truck, and the Grand Cherokee could be the perfect foundation

It’s been a while since Jeep revealed the Gladiator Wrangler pickup concept at the North American International Auto Show in 2005. Earlier this year, Jeep president Mike Manley said a decision about a production Jeep pickup was coming “pretty soon,” but recent statements by company executives suggest that such a model, if it is coming, won’t be in the pipeline in the near future.

It was expected that the new truck would be based on the next-generation Wrangler, which is set for production next year. But what if a different model from the Jeep portfolio served as the base?

Theophilis Chin has twice now created renderings of a Jeep pickup based on the Grand Cherokee, and the latest looks entirely believable.

While the Wrangler already has a pickup conversion kit, this design looks right proportionally. The giant wheels likely wouldn’t make it to production, but the short bed and clean lines make for a handsome truck.

With the small-to-midsize truck segment growing once again, now seems like the perfect time for Jeep to build a competitor for the Colorado, Tacoma, and Canyon. Let’s not forget about Mercedes-Benz and its recent news about a pickup due before the end of the decade. Somehow it always seemed more plausible that Jeep would build a new pickup before Mercedes-Benz.

Then again, the issue may be more focused around its off-roading potential. Manley was quoted raising concerns about two- and four-door versions: “One of the issues is that when you go four-door with a bed is that your break-over angle gets destroyed. We can still maintain approach and departure angles, but when we get to a certain length, the break-over becomes an issue.”

While Jeep has its hands full with the new Wrangler and its potential hybrid powertrain, it would be a shame if the automaker missed an opportunity to nail a new market segment.