The long-awaited 2014 Jeep Cherokee has made its debut at this year's 2013 New York Auto Show (March 29-April 7) and the public is steadily growing to love the new direction taken by the iconic maker.
We had the chance to talk to Michael Manley (Jeep Brand's President and CEO and International Operations at Chrysler Group LLC's Lead Executive) about this new audacious range, and here is what he told us:
"Liberty in the segment was really a niche player. The whole segment, as it developed around the world, moved more and more towards on-road driving dynamics, fuel economy, and less towards the pure capability that Liberty had. With our new vehicle, you'll see we will be able to span the entire segment. That will open up many more opportunities for us, we will sell many more than Liberty.
In terms of design, the first reactions have been very polarising: we saw a lot of people that felt that it was too progressive for Jeep, and a number of people that thought it was a very strong direction for Jeep to take. From our perspective, as you track the feedback, what we saw was a continuous movement towards positive feedbacks, away from those who didn't like the design. Many of the websites that carry the pictures in the US, talk about the more you look at this vehicle, the more you love it. They use very emotional words and with Jeep emotional words are important because we are an emotional brand so I am confortable with the initial reaction to Cherokee."
"The B-segment SUV over the next few years is forecasted to be the highest and fastest growing SUV segment in the world so for us the timing for the small Jeep is very critical. Not only does it help us in markets where consumers are naturally downsized, whether it is trough displacement or overhall size, but it also will help us with bringing new customers into the brand.
We have a really really clear brand all the way around the world, people understand what Jeep means, in terms of the styling and how we interpret that styling I think we're equally clear. We have Wrangler, an icon those design cues and the way it stands can be seen also in the Liberty and the Patriot. On Gran Cherokee, a much more sleek vehicle, you see the design cues you've seen on the Compass, another vehicle we've produced in the past. If you project it forward and look at the new Cherokee, you're going to see a more dramatic evolution of Gran Cherokee's design, envisaged in a smaller vehicle.
Does that mean that it will set our entire design style going forward? The answer is no, I think each and every one of the Jeeps we've produced to a large extent has its own personality, and that personality is expressed as much through its design as it is in its interiors and in its package. We are very confortable with the reaction to the new Cherokee but obviously the market is going to be the final judge. If what I am reading is anything to go by, compared to the success that we had with Liberty, this vehicle should do well."
The Trailhawk model is actually an evolution of the C-Evo platform, called Compact U.S. Wide (CUS-wide), and has been developed on the same platform that will spawn the next medium-sized cars of the Chrysler Group. It features MacPherson front suspension, multi-link at the rear as well as redesigned bumpers, raised suspension, underbody panels and two tow hooks.
The new Cherokee range will consume up to 45% less than the outgoing generation thanks to the advanced technology of its engine line-up, including the 2.4-liter MultiAir 2 and the 3.2-liter V6 Pentastar. A 9-speed transmission courtesy of German masters ZF is also available as an option. The 2.4 Tigershark MultiAir 2 is credited with an output of 184 horsepower and 232 Nm of peak torque (with average fuel consuption rated at 7.6 l/100 km), while the 3.2 V6 Pentastar develops 271 hp and 324 Nm.
The 4 wheel drive system is available in three versions, four driving modes (Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand / Mud, and Rock) and eleven different colours.
- - Jeep Active Drive I: does not require any driver intervention or feedback and manages the torque distribution of between the two axles automatically.
- - Jeep Active Drive II: Jeep raises the suspension by an inch (16 mm) through a sophisticated management system.
- - Active Drive Jeep Lock: an evolution of the Active Drive II and includes a locking rear differential.