Chrysler Delays 2014 Jeep Cherokee Due to Transmission Fine-Tuning

By Jacob Brown | August 06, 2013
Last week, a funny thing happened as we were about to set off to drive the 2014 Jeep Cherokee: The launch got cancelled. In what has to be embarrassing for Chrysler, the automaker had to cancel hotel reservations for hundreds of executives, representatives, engineers, and journalists as well as cancel reservations at various venues. We wondered why it happened so late in the game. Then, as we speculated, we found out it was because of the new nine-speed automatic transmission and other parts of the drivetrain needing a little fine-tuning. "In Toledo, we have the perfect storm: new product, new plant, new people, new platform. At this point, training is the key for the success of this project," said Mauro Pino, head of World Class Manufacturing for Chrysler, in an interview with Automotive News. Originally, production for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee was scheduled to begin on May 23, but delays in the Toledo plant pushed it back to June 24. Then, Jeep found some issues with its nine-speed automatic not wanting to shift into ninth gear, so it went back to work on software reprogramming. Currently, no 2014 Jeep Cherokees are on dealer lots; they're being reworked in preparation for going on sale, which has an on-sale date scheduled to be around late this month or early September. We're betting for the latter; Chrysler has not announced any further timing delays. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be powered by a reworked 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower or an all-new 3.2-liter V-6 with 271 horsepower, routing power to the front wheels in more basic models or all four wheels. The nine-speed automatic will be the only transmission option available. In producing the new Cherokee, Jeep is adding 1,100 workers to its Toledo, Ohio, plant and starting a third shift on August 19. Jeep is also expanding production facilities in Michigan and Mexico to help with supply issues. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee is based on the same Alfa Romeo chassis that underpins the Dodge Dart. The Dart got off to a rocky start because of criticisms lobbed on its drivetrain, among other things. Understandably, Chrysler doesn't want to make the same mistake twice. Also, as the Cherokee is expected to be one of the brand's best-selling models, being sold all over the world, Jeep needs to get it just right. Honestly, we'd prefer the Cherokee to be delayed and be a homerun than be rushed out to the market and fall flat on its face. Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)