Back in December, TTAC was invited to a very secret presentation somewhere in Michigan, where an assembled crowd of journalists was shown the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. At the time, the car didn’t even have a name. It was called the “KL”. TTAC was shown the base car (shown in the photos) and an upcoming variant that you’ll see next week. When the sheet was pulled back, the murmuring and and hushed chatter that permeated the room immediately ceased. Nobody knew what to make of this new crossover.
It turns out that the odd design, not to mention the proliferation of engineering mules wearing Alfa Romeo body work, has a reason behind it. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Cherokee was originally an Alfa Romeo CUV before it became a Jeep.
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee, which makes its debut Wednesday at the New York Auto Show, is based on a design first developed for Fiat’s Alfa Romeo—a sharing intended to spare Chrysler hundreds of millions of dollars in engineering costs and shorten the time it takes to get new vehicles to market.
Aside from the cost savings, the move makes sense from a marketing standpoint. The Jeep brand is strong all over the world, and a compact crossover like the Cherokee is a great way to expand the brand in markets where a traditional SUV would be a poor fit. In addition, Alfa’s move to sportier and more luxurious cars (not to mention its precarious future on the whole) meant that the KL project would have more success over at Jeep, not to mention help further focus Alfa’s product message.
Even though reaction has been mixed, I’m optimistic about the Cherokee. The Alfa DNA in the CUSW platform is evident in the Dodge Dart, and the compact crossover segment is so damn competitive than fielding anything less than an excellent product would be a fatal mistake for Chrysler. Based on the Dart, the Ram 1500 and the Grand Cherokee, it appears that Chrysler is cognizant of this.