Posted by Bob Aldons – Northstar Chrysler Jeep Dodge
From mild to wild – these pictures probably represent the best all round look of the MY14 Jeep Cherokee due here in late 2013
And yes, it’s confronting, it’s different but it’s certainly a “Look at me” vehicle.
Jeep has defended the controversial styling of its all-new Cherokee SUV, which made its global debut at last week’s New York motor show and goes on sale priced from around $30,000 in October.
Internet bloggers went into overdrive when the redesigned American off-roader when it was officially pre-revealed in February, with the vast majority disparaging the new Cherokee’s pointy-nosed, split-headlight styling.
However, Jeep has hit back at critics of the bold new, saying the radical new design was not only progressive and enduring, but necessary for the success of the vital new model in a booming SUV sector awash with new arrivals.
Chief designer Mark Allen said in New York that when Fiat Chrysler’s top brass, including CEO Sergio Marchionne, were presented two design proposals for the next Cherokee, they overwhelmingly voted for the wilder option.
“Everyone wants to know how we came to this answer,” he admitted. “Trust me, we offered up to our management – and you've got to give them full credit – ‘mild to wild’ for this exterior look, and they all picked wild.
“Mild was never going to be competitive in this segment. We wanted to hit the segment running. The mood was to move aggressively with this vehicle. It’s got to stand on its own. It’s got to be modern. It’s got to go on a while.
“The decision seemed to be easy. That’s the best result for a designer.”
Allen admitted that some people, both inside the company and out, remained unsympathetic to the distinctive design, which was revealed about six months before it hits North American showrooms following production in Ohio from May, presumably to get customers used to the idea.
“Some people have struggled with the front-end, but they’re coming around. Some of the photos haven’t been flattering. I’ve been looking at it for a couple of years so I’m used to it.
“Everybody just kept gravitating towards this. It was just the most modern thing we had up on the board.
“We did not want a box. A box looks very inefficient. This vehicle is very efficient, and we wanted to communicate that with the shape.
“If you look at the face of the vehicle, there is no corner on it. Splitting the lights and moving the lights around there allowed us to really rake back the front of the vehicle.
“If you think about the beloved (1980s) XJ Cherokee, that was radically different from the vehicle that it replaced. They weren’t looking back when they were doing that vehicle back then and neither does this.”
Allen said the new Cherokee would offer a significant point of difference from other new medium SUVs, including the Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-TRAIL, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V and Mitsubishi Outlander – as well as the model it replaces.
“We were out of the market with the old Liberty (Cherokee),” he said. “That just wasn’t competitive with the set that’s out there right now. Management didn’t just want us to ease into that segment. They wanted everybody to know that we are here.”
Falling into line with its key mid-size rivals, the new model is smaller than the old Cherokee (which was badged as the Liberty outside Australia, where Subaru’s Legacy wears the same name), but significantly larger than Jeep’s compact Patriot and Compass SUVs, which will merge into a single model in their next generation.
Moving from a body-on-frame design to Fiat Chrysler’s new monococque platform from the Dodge Dart and Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Jeep maintains the new Cherokee five-seater is “the most capable mid-size SUV on the planet”.
Jeep has already revealed full specifications, including three different four-wheel drive systems, two transverse petrol engines (2.4 and 3.2-litre) and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel – all matched to an SUV-first nine-speed automatic transmission – more than 70 advanced safety and security features including 10 airbags and four equipment grades.
They will include the entry-level front-wheel drive Sport, the mid-range Longitude (known as Latitude in the US, where the Renault of the same name isn’t sold) and Limited, and the ‘trail-rated’ Trailhawk.
Corporate Affairs Director Karla Leach told motoring.com.au that Fiat Chrysler Group Australia is “aiming to start at $30,000” with the entry-level four-cylinder 2WD Sport variant (the outgoing Sport 2WD 3.7 auto opens the current Cherokee range at $28,000).
However, while all three engine options will be offered with the nine-speed auto in Australia, where the Longitude is expect to be the most popular variant, the diesel Cherokee will not be available from launch and the hard-core Trailhawk will only be available with a petrol V6.
Call into Northstar Jeep at 320 Anzac Avenue Kippa-Ring on the Redcliffe Peninsula. We're only 15 minutes or so from Brisbane Airport and a leisurely drive down the highway from Noosa, Bundaberg, Maryborough, and a short trip from Nambour, Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Bribie Island. We also get a lot of our customers as FIDO - that's not a dog by the way, that's fly in drive out. With cheap airfares, our customers come in from Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Mt Isa and even Sydney, Melbourne and as far away as Perth.
We'll happily arrange a drive home registration and you know the best thing about this? The drive home gives you just the best running in you'll ever get. New engines love a long drive to bed everything in and you'll get the best economy you've ever experienced. Alternatively if you're time or distance poor, check us out online at www.northstarjeep.com.au or read more reviews at www.mycarreview.com.au .
Northstar Chrysler Jeep Dodge is Fiat Chrysler Groups Northern Metro Dealer Of The Year for 2012 - all the more reason to discuss your Jeep needs with us. Finally, if you can't come to us, we'll come to your home, workplace or worksite - call Northstar on 1300 BNE JEEP or 1300 263 533