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July 2013 Drivelines - Industry News

Posted in News on July 1, 2013
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Photographers: Manufacturers

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.

Facelift Already?
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.

Earth Watch
• Just days after the King of the Hammers brought several thousand off-roaders to Johnson Valley (see page 38), the Marine Corps announced it is moving ahead with a plan to expand the Twentynine Palms, California, base and take ownership of almost 147,000 acres of the OHV area. Nearly 104,000 acres of Johnson Valley would be permanently closed to off-roading so the Marines can conduct large-scale training exercises two months a year. Another 43,000 acres (encompassing the Hammers) would be available for dual use. However, this land could be closed in the future since munitions from live-fire training could make the area unsafe for recreation. SEMA, which brought us this report, will continue to lobby Congress for continued BLM ownership of the land and issuance of special-use permits to the Marines.

• In better news from SEMA, we’ve learned there is a bill moving through Congress that will open the Hatfield-McCoy Recreation Area in West Virginia to use by all off-highway vehicles. Currently the area is open only to ATVs, UTVs, and motorcycles.

• Bills have been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate to ban sales of gasoline blended with 15-percent ethanol (E15). These bills would overturn actions taken by the EPA two years ago to permit ethanol levels to rise from 10 to 15 percent. Ethanol increases water formation, which can create formic acid and corrode metals, plastics, and rubber. Older cars and certain high-performance specialty parts are not constructed with corrosion-resistant materials and are not able to tolerate the higher temperatures at which E15 may burn, says SEMA. Auto enthusiasts have complained for years about damage caused by E10, SEMA reports. E10 is now in more than 90 percent of gas sold in the U.S. E15 would increase the risk by 50 percent.

Electric Crusher
Bigfoot 20, the latest member of the monster truck family and the first to run on electricity, was scheduled to power through its first car-crush exhibitions at the AutoRama Car Show in Kansas City, Missouri, earlier this year. Bigfoot 20 is powered by three banks of 10 Odyssey batteries (plus six more to juice the brakes and steering). Video of Bigfoot 20’s first car crush test at Bigfoot headquarters in Missouri is available at

Willys Picnic
Willys fanatics on the East Coast will want to head to Kempton, Pennsylvania, June 9 for the Great Willys Picnic. “It’s not a big show like the Bantam Jeep Festival. It’s just a smaller show that will interest any vintage Jeep enthusiast and keep them busy for hours,” said the event’s Brett Wagner, who sent us information and photos from last year’s Picnic. Any pre-’70 Jeep, Willys, Kaiser, military, or GPW is invited to the show. Last year some of the more unusual entries included this factory dualie CJ-2A, a CJ-5 with a buzz saw attachment, and even a realistic half-scale Willys MB kit built out of a Cub Cadet lawn mower. “While there are not hundreds of vehicles here, what will be at the show are all the rare Jeeps that most people have never seen or even heard of,” says Wagner. For information visit

The Truth About Tow Ratings
It seems like every truck manufacturer these days is claiming “best in class” towing capacity for its products. Yet according to Automotive News, only one truck manufacturer, Toyota, is adhering to a towing test standard that all truck makers agreed to follow starting with their ’13 models. The standard, called J2807 by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), tests vehicle performance while towing in measurable—and repeatable—categories: climbing, acceleration, and launching. However, Ford, GM, Nissan, and Ram are measuring their trucks by their own standards, making it difficult to compare ratings across brands.

So why aren’t the Detroit companies following the test rules they agreed on several years ago? According to AN, the SAE J2807 testing is rigorous enough that it results in tow ratings below what the makers currently claim. The Tundra, for example, lost some 400 pounds in tow rating when Toyota subjected it to the SAE standard—even though the truck was mechanically unchanged.

In a hotly competitive market, no one (except Toyota) is willing to go backwards on a tow rating for fear of losing sales. So Ford decided to wait until the launch of the all-new ’15 F-150 before implementing the new procedures, and GM, Ram, and Nissan are all following Ford’s lead, says AN.

• May 30–June 1: Canyon de Chelly Jeep Jamboree, Chinle, AZ.

• May 30–June 1: Badlands Jeep Jamboree, Attica, IN.

• May 31–June 1: Dirt Riot Central Round 3 by WERock, Canyons Offroad Park, Fredericksburg, TX.

• May 31–June 2: Tecate SCORE Baja 500, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.
Info: 818.225.8402,

• June 1: Winching Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• June 7: Wilderness Advance First Aid Certification by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA,Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• June 8: Stadium Super Truck Series, Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO.

• June 8: Sand Drags, Twisted Trails Off-Road Park, Copemish, MI.

• June 8: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• June 9: Great Willys Picnic, Kempton, PA.

• June 9: Advanced Beginner Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• June 14: Off-Road Night at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill, Ventura, CA.
Info: 805.477.0783,

• June 14-15: Dirt Riot Mountain Round 2 by WERock, Ram Off Road Park, Colorado Springs, CO.

• June 14-16: Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, Butler, PA.

• June 15: Starting Rock Crawling Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Lucerne Valley, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• June 15-16: Adventures in Off-Road Driving Level 1 instruction, by Off-Road Experience, Fernley, NV.
Info: 925.606.8301,

• June 20-22: Drummond Island Jeep Jamboree, Drummond Island, MI.

• June 20-22: Penn’s Woods Jeep Jamboree, Bradford, PA.

• June 21-23: Start of the Summer Rausch Creek Trail Run by, Rausch Creek, PA.

• June 22: Night Run,Kansas Rocks, near Mapleton, KS.

• June 22: Stadium Super Truck Series, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL.

• June 22: Muck Ruck Foot Race, Twisted Trails Off-Road Park, Copemish, MI.

• June 22-23: Iron Range off-road driving school, Iron Range OHV Park near Minneapolis, MN.

• June 28-30: WERockEast Round 2, Badlands, Attica, IN.

• June 29: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• June 30: Advanced Beginners Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info—phone numbers and/or email/website address—to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 310.531.9368; email 4wheeloff Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.

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