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2019 Jeep Cherokee: What’s Marrakesh Got to Do With It?

Although the bulk of the changes to the refreshed 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee can be admired from the street, there are a few general enhancements to the interior, as well. Satin-chrome accents surround the air vent, radio and gear-shift bezels. A larger front-seat center console holds more stuff, while the USB port and 115-volt power source have been relocated for ease of use. More rear cargo space, in addition to the fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system with pinch-and-swipe touchscreen, round out the cabin highlights.

Two new interior themes provide a fresh look for the Jeep Cherokee Latitude/Latitude Plus and Overland grades. Each carmaker has its own approach to creating interiors for its models. At Jeep, interior stylists take their cues from geographic settings. These would be countries, areas or cities from around the world. Colors, textures and materials are all inspired by a single geographic source.

To better understand Jeep’s process for developing interior themes (what, who and how), we spent a little extra time with Cherokee designer Brian Nielander at the national media launch for the 2019 Jeep Cherokee in Los Angeles in late January.

The Process

It’s no surprise that Jeep’s interior design department is comparatively small. Despite its small squad of designers working on more than one project, typically each interior is the work of a solitary stylist. It’s this stylist that brainstorms the concept, develops the options and arrives at the finished product. Sometimes the concept is totally fresh, other times it may be an unused idea from a previous project, but it’s still the vision of the assigned designer.

Around 2010, a world map went up on a wall of the design studio. Picking out different areas, the design team spit-balled models based on those areas. According to Nielander, it was a fun exercise, initiating the idea of using geographic areas as the basis for interior themes. “It’s a more exciting way for designers to approach designing an interior,” he explained.

Organic in its beginning, every interior theme originates with the designer simply poking around the internet, flipping through magazines or looking at travel brochures. Images grabbing the designer’s imagination wind up on a wall covered with photos from around the world. Often as many as 20 different places are represented.

Working through the process, the designer pulls color chips, material swatches and so forth for several of the more interesting places. Each location has its own box. As the process progresses, the designer mixes and matches items from the same box. Eventually, the stylist narrows the choices to one. Although the interiors aren’t officially named for the locations inspiring them, that’s how they are referred to internally.


Iceland provided the inspiration for the new Storm Blue interior, optional on the $25,190 Latitude and $27,690 Latitude Plus trim levels. Somewhat simple in its concept, its black seats with Storm Blue contrast stitching and satin-finish accents capture Iceland’s black volcanic landscape with its crystal blue sky.


Inspired by Marrakesh, the available Dark Sienna interior offered in the luxurious $37,470 Overland grade features earth tones in its color palate and real Zebrano wood in its accents.

What it means to you: It may just be a car interior, but whatever sparks some imagination and makes the designing job fun is okay with us. Besides, “What’s Marrakesh got to do with it?” is a great conversation starter.

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Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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