More stories related to New York Auto ShowNEW YORK – One of America’s emerging status symbols will make its way to the body of Jeep’s Grand Cherokee.

Jeep Design Director John Sgalia tells Ward’s the Hemi badge, affixed to Chrysler and Dodge brand products, will be added to the back of Jeeps carrying the 5.7L Hemi V-8 under the hood starting in the ’06 model year.

The new ’05 Grand Cherokee went on sale last year with three powertrain options: a base 3.7L V-6, a 4.7L V-8 and the Hemi. The Hemi has a 25% take rate, says Jeff Bell, vice president-Chrysler and Jeep brands.

“We always thought of the Hemi being tied to Dodge and Chrysler (heritage),” he says during a concept drive here, explaining why vehicles such as the Dodge Ram and Chrysler 300 proudly badge what’s under the hood, while Jeep only says it as a 5.7L engine.

Chrysler Group says feedback from owners of Hemi-equipped Grand Cherokees say the badging is needed.

“It wasn’t really like a groundswell or a problem, it was more like just comments,” Bell says. “Some of the people said I love my vehicle, but I wouldn’t mind showing off a little bit the fact it has a Hemi.”

The Grand Cherokee-based 7-seat Commander debuted March 23 at the New York International Auto Show with the same powertrain menu. It too gets a Hemi badge.(See related story: Jeep Thinks Big With Commander SUV)

Currently, Jeep buyers pay about a $1,000 premium for a Hemi over the 4.7L V-8, Bell says.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com