The Latest 4x4 News
Jeep Resurrects the Cherokee Nameplate
Goodbye Liberty, hello Cherokee. The Lib will be replaced this year by a new Jeep SUV wearing the iconic name. Unlike the original Cherokee, though, this vehicle (internally designated the KL) is based on a Fiat-derived front-wheel-drive car platform.
When it goes on sale in the third quarter of 2013, the ’14 Cherokee will be offered as a front-driver and with several different 4WD powertrains. None has a conventional transfer case. Instead, when four-wheel drive is engaged, a power takeoff at the front axle sends driving force to a rear drive module to turn the rear wheels. That module has just a single speed in Active Drive I form, while an Active Drive II version uses planetary gears in the module to provide 2.92:1 low-range reduction. A Terrain-Select dial in the cockpit alters the driveline’s responsiveness through five modes, though only in the Rock, Snow, Sand, and Mud settings can low range be engaged. The Cherokee we’re most interested in, the Trailhawk model, adds a locker to the rear-drive module. This drivetrain, Jeep says, gives the Trailhawk“ Trail Rated” capability (and fender badge).
Goodbye Liberty, hello Cherokee
Two engines will be offered, a 2.4L four-cylinder and a smaller version of the Pentastar V-6 coming in at 3.2L. Estimated power from the MultiAir four-cylinder is 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque, while the V-6 will produce 271 hp and 239 lb-ft. Both are joined to an all-new nine-speed automatic transmission with a deep 4.70:1 First gear. All ratios above Fifth are overdrives. The final crawl ratio will be 56:1 for 2.4L models and 48:1 for V-6s.
The nine-speed transmission, along with slippery aerodynamics and a fairly strict diet (the Cherokee weighs about 400 pounds less than the outgoing Liberty), will help FWD (front-wheel drive) four-banger Cherokees achieve 31 mpg on the highway. The highway fuel economy target for V-6 FWD models is 29 mpg; no word yet on how thirsty the 4x4s will be.
The Cherokee will be available in Trailhawk, Sport, Latitude, and Limited trim levels. In a special preview prior to the Cherokee’s unveiling at the New York Auto Show, we were shown fiberglass styling mockups of the Trailhawk and Limited. The Trailhawk sits about an inch higher than the other Cherokees, has better approach and departure angles, is skidplated front-to-rear, uses unique half-shafts, and rides on beefier wheels and tires—245/65R17 Firestone Destination A/Ts. It has body-color or blacked-out body trim and fender flares, as well as the trademark Trailhawk red tow hooks (two in front, one in back).
The plush Limited model (seen here) trades the painted exterior trim for chrome and has all the bells and whistles inside: leather upholstery, a large touchscreen in the center stack, Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, and so on.
If all goes according to plan, the Cherokee Trailhawk will be among our contenders for the ’14 4x4 of the Year test. We’ll see if it truly deserves its Trail Rated badge.
When photos of the Cherokee leaked onto the Internet (forcing Jeep to release official pictures weeks in advance of its intended launch in New York), social media sites lit up with criticism about the SUV’s unusual styling. Chrysler admits the look is “polarizing”; many Jeep fans, especially traditionalist first-generation Cherokee owners, weren’t pleased.
Trade magazine Automotive News believes Jeep is already planning a revision to the Cherokee’s nose, after photographing what looks to be a camouflaged Cherokee mule driving in Los Angeles. Under the semitransparent nose covering you can see a Jeep seven-slot grille, though it’s more cohesive than the seven stand-alone grille slots in the production version. The mule also has headlights that are more conventional looking than the Cherokee’s “eyebrows,” which are actually daytime running lights. The headlights are the oblong lights below the brows.
Ram Plans Half-Ton Diesel
Last month when we told you about Ram’s new ProMaster commercial van, we guessed that its optional 3.0L EcoDiesel engine might make a good light-duty oil-burner for the Ram pickup. Just a few days after that issue went to press we received official confirmation: The ’14 Ram 1500 will be offered with the diesel, backed by the same TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission used with the gas engines. Output, fuel economy, and tow/cargo capacities have yet to be announced.
New Range Rover Sport
This purposely blurry image is all that Land Rover will show us of its new Range Rover Sport prior to the SUV’s reveal at the New York Auto Show. LR also skimped on any details about the vehicle, only calling it “Land Rover’s fastest, most responsive, and most agile vehicle to date.”
This Just In
• The father-son team of Gustavo Vildosola and Gustavo Jr. won the MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 desert race in San Felipe, Mexico. They drove their Red Bull Vildosola Racing Ford Raptor over the 253-mile course in 4 hours 13 minutes 39 seconds, for an average speed of 59.85 mph.
• You have until May 31 to jump on ARB’s accessories sale. The deal: Buy an ARB Air Locker and get a compact compressor free, or get an ARB high-output compressor for free if you buy two ARB Air Lockers.
• Magnaflow Exhaust is the latest company to sign on as an associate sponsor of Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks series.
• Mopar has added greasable U-joints to its inventory of parts for Jeeps and Ram trucks.
• Speaking of Mopar, it just released a report about which Chrysler vehicles are most often accessorized and which accessories are the most popular. Ram 1500 heads the list of vehicles most accessorized in the U.S., followed by Wrangler. (Wrangler, though, is at the top of the list for the rest of the world.) Mopar’s most popular accessories in the U.S. are side steps and running boards, followed by new tops for Wranglers.
• Land Rover will offer a nine-speed automatic transmission in upcoming models, the manufacturer announced at the Geneva Auto Show. It has also developed an all-electric Defender to use for research.