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New Cherokee Is The Right Jeep At The Right Time

Jeep Cherokee: New model comes from a whole new engineering background and it’s all the better for it. If ever there was a man on a mission, it’s Sergio Marchionne,
03 Jan 2015 15:49
New Cherokee Is The Right Jeep At The Right Time

Jeep Cherokee: New model comes from a whole new engineering background and it’s all the better for it. If ever there was a man on a mission, it’s Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive behind the Fiat-Alfa-Chrysler-Jeep get together which was finally signed off by its Italian and American factions recently.

When you add in the other brands involved, like Dodge, Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati, it’s an unlikely alchemy derived from seemingly disparate elements, but it’s working and there’s no better example of how well its working than the new Jeep Cherokee.

This latest fourth-generation version of the family-sized, mid-range Jeep – a model which for some markets was known for a while as the Liberty – is all based on a platform supplied by the Alfa Romeo Giulietta sports hatch, itself linked closely to the current Fiat Brava. This means, of course, that the new Jeep Cherokee has a transverse front-drive monocoque platform rather than the north-south rear-drive full chassis set-up used by every previous Cherokee.

From that same great Fiat-Chrysler parts bin, every car and SUV maker in the massive new empire, which has been coalescing irrevocably over the past five or so years, can now have its pick of any power unit and gearbox – within reason. The new Cherokee’s engineering team members must have felt like Little Jack Horner. They appear to have put in their collective thumbs and come up with two useful power units and one of the world’s best transmissions – a ZF nine-speeder – all ready to be put in train with traditional Jeep 4×4 hardware and technology. Talk about win-win.

The power units consist of a 137kW/232Nm 2.4-litre MultiAir petrol four from Alfa, known as the “TigerShark” unit in American applications, along with a 200kW/316Nm 3.2-litre version of Chrysler’s own “Pentastar” V6, a quad Cam 24 valve unit that has already transformed the Chrysler 300, Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee and Dodge Journey models and now has a chance to do the same with the all-new Cherokee.

Running though the nine-speed automatic, each engine now has sufficient gear ratios to do without traditional high-low transfer systems and still allow the Cherokee to acquit itself well off-road. As it must do in most versions, being a Jeep and all. First gear is low at 4.71:1 and gears one to five are closely stacked, while six to nine are overdriven, with top set at 0.48:1 for ultimate economy.

The Cherokee has formed the very foundations of the Jeep brand since Chrysler acquired it from American Motors in 1986 and along with the Wrangler, it provides the root of the whole Jeep family tree.

 

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