The media widely reported on July 30 that Chrysler was postponing the media previews (translation first drives) of their long awaited and very innovative 2014 Jeep Cherokee that had been scheduled for the first week of August.
Contrary to skepticism expressed by some about Chrysler now being able to make the committed September in-showroom date, we see this is a good thing. It signals that Chrysler and its Jeep brand seriously recognize the importance of this new Jeep vehicle and are standing by their previously announced commitment to bring a “flawless product” to the market.
We talked with senior executives at Chrysler about this postponement and they shared with us that final testing of the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee power train system revealed some opportunity to further improve the performance of what may be the most innovative vehicle that Chrysler has ever produced.
Honoring their flawless product commitment to the customer, Chrysler chose to delay the media first drives in order to make those changes to further improve the calibration and integration of the various available power plants with the all new and industry first nine-speed automatic transmission linked to the three new four-wheel drive systems in the 2014 Cherokee.
Production of the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee vehicles continues at the Toledo plant with vehicles being held for the final calibration changes to be finalized. This is not a mechanical change, but rather a software change to the control modules that coordinate and maximize the performance of the new power train and four-wheel drive systems.
Vehicle software modules will be updated and vehicles shipped to dealer showrooms in time for the September launch.
The real story here, according to our Chrysler sources, is in the official postponement statement – “Our senior management has stated many times that we will only introduce a vehicle – to consumers and media – when it is flawless.”
Our sources added that this is what they are doing – making the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee power train system flawless – even if it means the media has to delay getting their first drive impressions about the same time consumers are getting to drive the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee at their dealerships.
As we have told you in our earlier pieces about the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee, this vehicle marks the world debut of Chrysler Group’s nine-speed automatic transmission.
The advanced-technology gearbox enables aggressive launches, smooth power delivery at highway speeds and greater fuel efficiency than a six-speed automatic transmission.
The nine gears offer a wide ratio spread that will deliver outstanding low-end performance while small gear-ratio steps contribute to smooth transitions. Four overdrive ratios benefit highway fuel economy and reduce overall noise and vibration.
The all-new, fully electronic nine-speed automatic features on-the-fly shift map changing with manual-shifting capability via Electronic Range Select. More than 40 shift maps correspond to specific conditions to optimize shift quality and shift points for improved fuel economy, performance and drivability.
To determine the appropriate shift mode, the sophisticated software accounts for variables such as engine torque gradients, kick-down events, longitudinal and lateral acceleration and grade changes. For improved driving comfort and refinement, additional parameters integrated into the transmission control strategy include: temperature, speed and electronic stability control.
The result is automatic shifting attuned to the performance requirements of almost any driving situation.
Internally the transmission has four gear sets and six shift elements – multi-disc clutches, dog clutches and brakes. Only two friction-plate clutches are open in every gear, minimizing power loss.
In addition, the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee is the first mid-size sport-utility (SUV) to feature a front-wheel-drive-based rear-axle disconnect system. It will deliver four-wheel traction whenever it’s needed, without driver intervention.
A fully variable wet clutch housed in the rear drive module supplies the proper amount of torque for any traction condition including hot starts as needed.
Sophisticated algorithms enable the system to benefit driving dynamics by interacting with electronic stability control (ESC). When conditions are more favorable, it seamlessly switches to two-wheel-drive for optimum efficiency.
The system is available with either a one- or two-speed driveline (PTU and RDM). A locking differential is available with the two-speed PTU.
In low range, the 2.92:1 gear reduction also sets up aggressive crawl ratios – 56:1 when the vehicle is powered by the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine, and 47.8:1 when powered by the new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6. Such specifications benefit off-road performance.
An available locking rear differential enhances control in extreme off-road conditions and is selectable in any low-range terrain mode.
Chrysler, and its Jeep brand have a lot riding on this innovative new 2014 Jeep Cherokee and they want it to be right the first time with both the media and the consumer. They are demonstrating that commitment with their transparency on this late development.
We look forward to that first drive, even if it is only a few days before consumers are also getting behind the wheel of the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
Chrysler thinks it is simply that good. We think it will be also.