The Truth About Cars » Jeep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 25 Jan 2015 13:30:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Jeep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Capsule Review: 2015 Jeep Renegade http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-jeep-renegade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-jeep-renegade/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987530 When the Jeep Renegade made its official debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, I initially described it as “… a Panda 4×4 dressed up in Carhartt jeans and Red Wing boots.” With a Fiat platform, powertrain and assembly plant, the Renegade isn’t the first CUV to come from the Fiat Chrysler braintrust – but […]

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When the Jeep Renegade made its official debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, I initially described it as “… a Panda 4×4 dressed up in Carhartt jeans and Red Wing boots.”

With a Fiat platform, powertrain and assembly plant, the Renegade isn’t the first CUV to come from the Fiat Chrysler braintrust – but represents the most ambitious attempt to create a global crossover suitable for all markets. And it’s also FCA’s best effort yet.

The Alfa Romeo – excuse, Compact U.S. Wide – platform underpinning the Jeep Cherokee ended up providing the mid-size Jeep with some sub-optimal packaging characteristics, namely inadequate rear seat space and a dearth of cargo room. While I happened to like the controversial styling, the Cherokee’s look polarized many observers. For the Renegade, Jeep has played it safe, with a slab-sided exterior that looks like a “super-deformed” version of a Wrangler Unlimited.

Although the Renegade’s footprint is about the same size as a Nissan Juke or Kia Soul (which FCA had on hand as competitive vehicles), the Renegade is far heavier. While the Juke weighs in on either side of 3,000 lbs depending on spec, the Renegade starts at 3,300 lbs, and can approach 3,500 lbs at its heftiest. And you feel every additional pound behind the wheel.

In a vacuum, it’s not such a bad thing. The extra el-bees lend a substantial feel to the car, which makes it feel like a more solid vehicle than a B-segment crossover that shares a common ancestor with the less-than-stellar Fiat 500L. Half of the drive route consisted of winding, Northern California backroads, which we tackled in a fairly simple 1.4T equipped Latitude FWD model. While the 6-speed Renegade is no speed demon, it felt as lively and responsive as a Nissan Juke – which is a pretty fun vehicle in its own right. The long, EPA-optimized gearing of the 6-speed box means constant shifting between second and third to keep the buzzy little 1.4 motor on the boil, but it only adds to the fun of whipping the boxy little Jeep through switchbacks. The clutch is easy enough to modulate and the shifter is decidedly mid-pack in the “transverse shift quality” sweepstakes.

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Driving the Renegade was such a hoot that I completely forgot to take pictures of the interior. The photo above, borrowed from Auto Express, shows what a well-equipped Renegade looks like on the inside. You will get a smaller version of UConnect, and Cherokee-like HVAC knobs and an electronic parking brake. Lower trim models get a more stripped down version of UConnect, with a less intricate display unit. Both of our demos had light fabric interiors which were quite handsome, especially when paired with the earth tone exterior colors. Avoid the black and heavier hues, lest you be mistaken for a Patriot owner.

The other half of the drive route was set up on an off-road course at California’s Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area. In addition to the 2.4L/9-speed Renegade, we also took out a Soul, a Juke, (both of which had been tested not long ago) and a Buick Encore. And holy hell does the Jeep feel like a porker. Despite handling the twisty roads with aplomb, the weight penalty over the competition (including the 3200 lb Encore) was immediately noticeable when getting out of the AWD 2.4L Renegade. Between the need for a diesel engine, a stout, Trail Rated 4×4 system, five-star crash test ratings on multiple continents and the appropriate “macho” looks, FCA engineers had to juggle numerous competing requirements that conceivably led to the Renegade weighing as much as 200 lbs more than a brand new Honda CR-V. Still it’s hard to wrap your head around such a porky figure for a B-segment CUV.

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While Jeep laid out two different off-road courses for us to test the Renegade Trailhawk on, it’s difficult to evaluate its prowess, namely because I’m a city kid who thinks that a gravel driveway calls for switching into 4WD. With a five-mode selector switch and a first-gear low range (ala the Cherokee Trailhawk), the automatic only Trailhawk version of the Renegade easily handled the rocks and whoops on the Jeep designed course. A more qualified off-road driver is a better source of impartial information. On road, the 9-speed seems to have become a smoother, more civilized gearbox than the frenetic iterations found in other FCA vehicles.

Starting at $17,995 for a bare bones Sport (and we’re talking A/C as an option), the Renegade slots in between the $16,995 Patriot and the $18,995 Compass, which are vastly outdated, less visually appealing both inside and out, and likely unable to match the Renegade’s off-road abilities. But they represent a greater hurdle for the Renegade, even more so than the Juke, the Soul or any of the upcoming compact CUVs from Honda, Mazda and Chevrolet. Just as the qualitatively inferior Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger torpedoed sales of the Dart, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where heavy incentives and a dealer body eager to move the older CUVs could push prospective buyers into a Patriot or Compass – especially if they want an automatic vehicle but don’t want to pony up for the 2.4/9-Speed versions. Assuming the two older vehicles are phased out (or replaced by a single model), volumes in the USA should rise from our initial estimates of between 60,000-70,000 units. FCA didn’t mention a number during their briefings, but that’s our best guess.

In any case, North America is hardly the most important market for the Renegade. China, India, Brazil, Russia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East…these are the locales where the Renegade must really make it happen for Jeep. The B-Segment CUV is the hottest segment in the world market, and the combination of Fiat diesel engines, Jeep styling and brand image and a global manufacturing base will help the Renegade achieve FCA’s long desired push to turn Jeep into a global SUV brand – and a premium one at that. Don’t bet against it.

 

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Jeep Renegade Pricing Leaked, AWD 6-Speed Manual Confirmed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/jeep-renegade-pricing-leaked-awd-6-speed-manual-confirmed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/jeep-renegade-pricing-leaked-awd-6-speed-manual-confirmed/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:01:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987314 Although driving impressions for the Jeep Renegade are still embargoed, pricing has leaked on a third party site, and we can confirm that a 4×4 model with a  6-speed manual will be available – but not on the top trim Trailhawk version. The 1.4T Multiair 4-cylinder turbo engine will be available with a 6-speed manual […]

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Although driving impressions for the Jeep Renegade are still embargoed, pricing has leaked on a third party site, and we can confirm that a 4×4 model with a  6-speed manual will be available – but not on the top trim Trailhawk version.

The 1.4T Multiair 4-cylinder turbo engine will be available with a 6-speed manual exclusively, while the 2.4L Tigershark I4 will come with 9-speed ZF automatic. Both configurations can be had in either FWD or AWD, while the TrailHawk gets an uprated AWD with 20:1 crawl ratio, five different modes and a low range mode in first gear, similar to the Cherokee Trailhawk.

Per the Jeep Renegade Forum:

Sport: $17,995
Latitude: $21,295
Limited: $24,795
Trailhawk: $25,995

4×4 adds $2,000

Our review will go live tomorrow.

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Manley: 2017 Jeep Wrangler Could Be A Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/manley-2017-jeep-wrangler-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/manley-2017-jeep-wrangler-hybrid/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985490 Are you ready for a hybrid Jeep Wrangler? The 2017 model may likely be just that to help the icon navigate through tighter fuel economy standards. According to Auto Express, brand boss Mike Manley says hybridization is a possibility for achieving fuel efficiency in the upcoming Wrangler, while also ensuring that it keeps its looks […]

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Are you ready for a hybrid Jeep Wrangler? The 2017 model may likely be just that to help the icon navigate through tighter fuel economy standards.

According to Auto Express, brand boss Mike Manley says hybridization is a possibility for achieving fuel efficiency in the upcoming Wrangler, while also ensuring that it keeps its looks and improves its on-road prowess. Such a hybrid would be more focused on off-roading and the issues that could come up:

Where you have to be careful with the Wrangler is range. If you are eight hours and four miles into a trail, there is not a hybrid that we could do which could provide the battery support. The way that combination is calibrated would be more unique for a Wrangler than it would, for example, a Grand Cherokee.

Other options for greater fuel economy include diesel power, as well as usage of aluminum and high-strength steel in the Wrangler’s construction.

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Manley: Jeep Wrangler Truck Perfect For Brand, Business Case Not There http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/manley-jeep-wrangler-truck-perfect-brand-business-case-not/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/manley-jeep-wrangler-truck-perfect-brand-business-case-not/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=983761 The B&B’s only bet for buying a Jeep Wrangler pickup at the moment is to buy a Wrangler, then send it to a third-party for conversion. CEO Mike Manley says he’d love to have such a beast in his brand’s portfolio, as well, but there’s a hitch. According to CarAdvice.au.com, Manley says that while “every […]

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The B&B’s only bet for buying a Jeep Wrangler pickup at the moment is to buy a Wrangler, then send it to a third-party for conversion. CEO Mike Manley says he’d love to have such a beast in his brand’s portfolio, as well, but there’s a hitch.

According to CarAdvice.au.com, Manley says that while “every international market” would take a Wrangler pickup, and that the idea “fits the portfolio exactly,” the business case for the truck still isn’t there.

Part of that case involves Ram: a Wrangler truck would do gangbusters on the showroom floor — the Wrangler made up 25.3 percent of the record 692,248 Jeep products sold in 2014 — but at the expense of the designated truck brand, an issue that has persisted for some time.

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It’s A Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/jeep-thing-wouldnt-understand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/jeep-thing-wouldnt-understand/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 23:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974226 Better than the mid-engine Vette/Ute mule, it’s the Prowangler. (H/T David Gluckman)

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Better than the mid-engine Vette/Ute mule, it’s the Prowangler.

(H/T David Gluckman)

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Canada Auto Sales Recap: November 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/canada-auto-sales-recap-november-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/canada-auto-sales-recap-november-2014/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 13:41:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963210 Canadians registered more new vehicles in 2013 than any year in the country’s auto-buying age. Yet in 2014, that record was very nearly broken in the first eleven months of the year. Auto sales in Canada through November 2014 rose 5.5%, a gain of 89,000 units compared with the first eleven months of 2013. Despite […]

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TTAC Chart Canada recapCanadians registered more new vehicles in 2013 than any year in the country’s auto-buying age. Yet in 2014, that record was very nearly broken in the first eleven months of the year.

Auto sales in Canada through November 2014 rose 5.5%, a gain of 89,000 units compared with the first eleven months of 2013.

Despite a sharp 3.4% decline in the number of passenger cars sold in November, the Canadian auto industry was up 3.6% last month thanks to strong pickup truck volume (up 15% to 25,811 units) and continued improvement in the SUV/crossover category.

The overall passenger car market was let down by sharp decreases from the most popular cars in the country last month. The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, and Volkswagen Jetta – Canada’s first, third, fourth, and sixth-best-selling cars – produced 3198 fewer sales this November than in November 2013, a 21% drop. The remainder of Canada’s available car nameplates, more than 130 vehicles, generated a 2.8% increase when those four top sellers are excluded.

The Civic’s 27% November drop presented an opportunity for the Honda CR-V to surge to the top of the Honda leaderboard. Indeed, the CR-V was Honda Canada’s best-selling model in November 2014; Canada’s top-selling SUV/crossover, as well. The Ford Escape was thus knocked into second spot on the SUV/crossover best seller list for the first time since December of last year. CR-V sales shot up 56% to 4461 units in November 2014. It ranks third among utility vehicles year-to-date, 15,803 sales back of the Ford Escape; 934 sales behind the Toyota RAV4. All three are primed to break the sales records they set one year ago, as is the fourth-ranked Nissan Rogue, sales of which doubled in November.

18.6% of the new vehicles sold in Canada last month were pickup trucks, up from 16.7% in November 2013. The four top-selling truck nameplates, full-size pickups from Ford, Ram, and General Motors, generated a combined 18.6% year-over-year volume increase to 23,580 units, equal to 91.4% of the overall pickup truck market.

In November and through the first eleven months of 2014, Jeep is Canada’s fastest-growing volume brand. Sales at the Chrysler Group’s SUV brand jumped 44% in November to 5887 units, 28% of the automaker’s total November sales during a month in which Chrysler Canada was the country’s largest manufacturer.

Through the end of November, the Chrysler Group (Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram) trails the Ford Motor Company (Ford and Lincoln) by a scant 0.3% difference. By a wide margin, FoMoCo’s namesake Ford brand is Canada’s best-selling auto brand. Toyota is 94,504 sales back through eleven months. Among premium brands, Mercedes-Benz outsold BMW by 447 units in November, enough to spread the year-to-date gap to 772 sales. Audi, which has reported an 18.5% year-to-date sales improvement and jumped 30.5% in November, is Canada’s third-ranked premium brand.

Audi is one of 16 brands which sold more vehicles in the first eleven months of 2014 than in all of 2013. Nissan and Ram are the biggest brands to shoot past their 2013 sales levels with at least one month remaining in 2014.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Cherokee Is Jeep’s Best Seller Three Months Running http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/cherokee-jeeps-best-seller-three-months-running/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/cherokee-jeeps-best-seller-three-months-running/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 16:28:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=956922 In each of the last three months, the Cherokee has been the best-selling model at America’s fastest-growing volume brand. Jeep sales are up 44% in the United States through the first eleven months of 2014, an improvement of 191,895 units. Excluding the Cherokee, which wasn’t on sale until the fourth-quarter of 2013, Jeep sales are […]

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2014 Jeep Cherokee LimitedIn each of the last three months, the Cherokee has been the best-selling model at America’s fastest-growing volume brand. Jeep sales are up 44% in the United States through the first eleven months of 2014, an improvement of 191,895 units.

Excluding the Cherokee, which wasn’t on sale until the fourth-quarter of 2013, Jeep sales are still up 10% in 2014 and 15% in November. Those Cherokee-less increases still far outpace the auto industry as a whole, which is up a little more than 5% this year; a little less than 5% in November.

Yet even before Jeep once again broadens its lineup with the subcompact Renegade, the Cherokee helped power the brand to new heights. The Jeep brand last topped the 500,000 mark in calendar year 1999. Jeep sold 629,074 utility vehicles during the first eleven months of 2014.

During the September-to-November period, however, the Cherokee’s importance was revealed with greater clarity. It led all Jeeps with 14,639 sales in September, equal to 26.5% of the brand’s total. In October, the Cherokee accounted for 28.5%, or 15,715, of Jeep’s 55,198 sales. Last month, the Cherokee rose to fifth place in overall SUV/crossover rankings with 16,945 sales, 29.5% of all Jeep sales.

So far this year, the Cherokee ranks third in Jeep sales with 160,793 units, behind the Grand Cherokee’s 166,610 units and the Wrangler’s 161,325. Grand Cherokee volume is up 6%; Wrangler sales are up 12%. Jeep sold 84,028 Patriots, a 21% increase, over the first eleven months of 2014. Compass sales are up 14% to 56,318. 33% of FCA’s U.S. sales are Jeep-derived this year, up from 27% in 2013. Jeep was the company’s top-selling brand every month this year except for February and March.

Together, the Jeep brand and Dodge’s Durango and Journey generated 772,504 SUV/crossover sales through the end of November 2014. That’s well ahead of Ford/Lincoln’s 681,670; well back of GM’s 896,371.

As for specific models, six specific SUV/crossover nameplates outsell the leading Jeep. Eight different utilities, including two Jeeps, outsell the Cherokee. For every Cherokee sold this year, Honda sells 1.9 CR-Vs. Keep in mind, however, that the CR-V is yet to be challenged in Honda’s own showrooms by the HR-V. The Cherokee, Patriot, and Compass combined for 301,139 sales through the end of November, very nearly on par with the CR-V’s 302,650-unit total. Then again, when Honda begins selling HR-Vs, Jeep will be marketing Renegades, as well.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Next-Gen Jeep Wrangler Confirmed For 8-Speed Automatic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/next-gen-jeep-wrangler-confirmed-8-speed-automatic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/next-gen-jeep-wrangler-confirmed-8-speed-automatic/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:48:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950225 A two-pedal Jeep Wrangler might be sacrilege to some, but the next-generation off-roader will be packing an 8-speed automatic for those who don’t want to row their own. According to Automotive News, the next Wrangler is confirmed for the 8-speed auto, based on an SEC filing. The 8-speed will not only be used on the Wrangler, […]

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A two-pedal Jeep Wrangler might be sacrilege to some, but the next-generation off-roader will be packing an 8-speed automatic for those who don’t want to row their own.

According to Automotive News, the next Wrangler is confirmed for the 8-speed auto, based on an SEC filing. The 8-speed will not only be used on the Wrangler, but all rear-drive FCA products, save for heavy duty trucks and the Viper.

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Grand Cherokee, Durango Going Grayscale Until February 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949153 Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months. Automotive News reports […]

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Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months.

Automotive News reports the grayscale look will be in until at least next February due to upgrades at Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North Assembly’s paint shop in Detroit. The upgrades would allow the shop to paint vehicles with more complex colors than it could prior to the changeover.

The changeover, which follows those at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ subsidary’s Warren Truck and Sterling Heights facilities, will also shut production down for three weeks beginning December 22, the first time the plant has been shut down for that long in several years.

Until then, shoppers can comb through the lot to find a red or maximum steel SUV of their dreams: around 19 percent of 24,500 unsold 2015 Grand Cherokees and 8 percent of 719 unsold Dodge Durangos come in colors outside of the grayscale range.

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FCA CEO Ordered To Give Deposition In Jeep-Related Lawsuit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/fca-ceo-ordered-give-deposition-jeep-related-lawsuit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/fca-ceo-ordered-give-deposition-jeep-related-lawsuit/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946210 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has been ordered by a Georgia judge to give a deposition as part of a lawsuit made against his company by a family whose son was killed in a rear-end crash involving a Jeep. Bloomberg reports the Walden family is suing FCA, stating the fiery accident that took the […]

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has been ordered by a Georgia judge to give a deposition as part of a lawsuit made against his company by a family whose son was killed in a rear-end crash involving a Jeep.

Bloomberg reports the Walden family is suing FCA, stating the fiery accident that took the life of their four-year-old son, Remington Cole, was the result of a safety hazard involving the placement of the fuel tank in their 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The judge asked the automaker to make its CEO available for a videotape deposition at a time agreed upon by both involved parties, per a decision on the case made last month.

FCA’s Chrysler Group stated said Jeep wasn’t defective, and that it met or exceeded safety standards that were in place when the vehicle left the assembly line. The automaker did offer its sympathy to the family, however:

Chrysler Group expresses its most profound sympathy to those affected by this tragedy, which resulted from a collision with a pickup truck driven in a manner police described as “erratic, reckless, careless (and) negligent.”

The statement follows a similar response made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June 2013, when the agency requested the automaker recall 2.7 million Grand Cherokees and Libertys over the vehicles’ fuel tanks, which posed a fire risk due to their location between the rear bumper and axle. FCA later applied a fix for 1.56 million affected units — the installation or repair of a trailer hitch to help minimize the effects of a low-speed crash — but not for the 1999 Grand Cherokee like the one cited in the lawsuit.

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Aldred: Jeep Wrangler-Style GMC Model A Possibility http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/aldred-jeep-wrangler-style-gmc-model-possibility/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/aldred-jeep-wrangler-style-gmc-model-possibility/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944665 Would you like a “professional grade” Jeep Wrangler? Should Buick-GMC vice president Duncan Aldred get his way, that’s exactly what will happen as part of Aldred’s vow to “change the face” of GMC. Edmunds reports Aldred is looking at where to take GMC to boost sales, including what segments will and will not be key […]

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Would you like a “professional grade” Jeep Wrangler? Should Buick-GMC vice president Duncan Aldred get his way, that’s exactly what will happen as part of Aldred’s vow to “change the face” of GMC.

Edmunds reports Aldred is looking at where to take GMC to boost sales, including what segments will and will not be key to success. While only in the brainstorming phase with no plans at present to expand the lineup, he said there was “room throughout the range” if one were to segment it, with “plenty of room everywhere in the hierarchy” to spare.

Thus, Aldred’s team could bring aboard an “active all-road, Wrangler-esque type of vehicle” to the lineup, as well as a flagship SUV above the Yukon, and an Encore-sized subcompact crossover. Aldred added that the brand could play around in “more big segments” if so desired.

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2017 Jeep Wrangler To Remain Body-On-Frame http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/2017-jeep-wrangler-remain-body-frame/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/2017-jeep-wrangler-remain-body-frame/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935626 The fate of where the next-gen Jeep Wrangler will be assembled may have been settled, thanks to the fact that there will be no unibody Wrangler anytime soon. Automotive News reports sources from inside and outside Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have stated the 2017 Wrangler will remain body-on-frame, meaning the Toledo, Ohio plant responsible for the […]

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The fate of where the next-gen Jeep Wrangler will be assembled may have been settled, thanks to the fact that there will be no unibody Wrangler anytime soon.

Automotive News reports sources from inside and outside Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have stated the 2017 Wrangler will remain body-on-frame, meaning the Toledo, Ohio plant responsible for the icon’s production won’t see it head elsewhere for now.

As for going aluminum to help make weight in the CAFE fuel economy competition, CEO Sergio Marchionne says it’s still a possibility for the next Wrangler to use the metal so long as production costs are manageable, which may also mean trouble still for Toledo:

If the solution is aluminum then I think unfortunately Toledo is the wrong set up to try and build a Wrangler because it requires a complete, a reconfiguring of the assets which would be cost prohibitive. I mean it would be just be so outrageously expensive for us to try and work out that facility.

Further, the switchover would stop Wrangler production completely — the Toledo plant, which is already operating above capacity, is the only plant where Wranglers are made — eating away at both dealer inventory and corporate profits. The current forecast shows 235,000 units leaving Ohio by the end of 2014, the third consecutive year of record high production.

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UAW, Political Leaders Uniting To Keep Wrangler In Ohio http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-political-leaders-uniting-keep-wrangler-ohio/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-political-leaders-uniting-keep-wrangler-ohio/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933842 With the possibility of an aluminum Jeep Wrangler being built elsewhere, the United Auto Workers and political leaders are coming together to convince Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to keep the icon in Toledo, Ohio. Automotive News reports the gathering will occur Monday at the UAW Local 12, with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, […]

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With the possibility of an aluminum Jeep Wrangler being built elsewhere, the United Auto Workers and political leaders are coming together to convince Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to keep the icon in Toledo, Ohio.

Automotive News reports the gathering will occur Monday at the UAW Local 12, with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, and Toledo mayor D. Michael Collins joining the group of workers, local leaders and members of the community to launch a campaign to keep the Wrangler at the Chrysler Assembly Plant, where 1,700 (out of a total of over 6,000) help assemble the icon with the help of 800 employed by neighborhood suppliers.

The campaign is set to begin as FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne warned that should the next-generation Wrangler be based upon an aluminum unibody, it would be built elsewhere:

If the solution is aluminum, then I think unfortunately that Toledo is the wrong place, the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler, because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets that would be cost-prohibitive. It would be so outrageously expensive that it would be impossible to try and work out of that facility.

UAW Local 12 president Bruce Baumhower invited 40 elected officials and local businessmen to the gathering, with the intent of establishing a task force set to address the issues that would take the Wrangler out of Toledo.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, Chrysler 300 SRT Get Stay Of Execution http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-chrysler-300-srt-get-stay-execution/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-chrysler-300-srt-get-stay-execution/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:27:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933858 Despite an effort to consolidate SRT vehicles under the Dodge brand, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT will stick around for the immediate future. Automotive News is reporting that dealers can order an SRT version of the Grand Cherokee for the 2015 model year. Beyond that, the vehicle will likely be renamed the “Trackhawk”. And while […]

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Despite an effort to consolidate SRT vehicles under the Dodge brand, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT will stick around for the immediate future.

Automotive News is reporting that dealers can order an SRT version of the Grand Cherokee for the 2015 model year. Beyond that, the vehicle will likely be renamed the “Trackhawk”.

And while the Chrysler 300 SRT is slated to be axed in North America, right-hand drive prototypes have been spied undergoing testing, suggesting the vehicle will live on for export markets. Australia is  SRT’s biggest global market outside the United States, and with the death of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, the 300 SRT will be the last rear drive V8 muscle sedan available in Australia.

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DOE Revives Loan Scheme For Auto Makers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/doe-revives-loan-scheme-auto-makers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/doe-revives-loan-scheme-auto-makers/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:26:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928057 After unwinding their Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program in 2011, the Department of Energy is bringing it back. According to The Detroit News, the focus of this round will be on suppliers, as well as lightweight vehicle technology. Despite the stated focus on suppliers, the timing of the announcement comes as FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne […]

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After unwinding their Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program in 2011, the Department of Energy is bringing it back. According to The Detroit News, the focus of this round will be on suppliers, as well as lightweight vehicle technology.

Despite the stated focus on suppliers, the timing of the announcement comes as FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne raised the idea of an aluminum Jeep Wrangler as a way of helping the venerable SUV meet increasing fuel economy standards – while also claiming that retrofitting the Toledo, Ohio assembly plant for aluminum construction would be far too expensive.

With roughly $16 billion in unused funds, the ATVM program has plenty of cash to spare to help re-tool Toledo – or any number of facilities. But you can bet that Marchionne, shrewd operator that he is, will use the threat of pulling production from Toledo to leverage some funds from the program – if he’s not already using that as a scare tactic in upcoming negotiations with the UAW.

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Manley: Jeep Grand Wagoneer On Its Way http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/manley-jeep-grand-wagoneer-way/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/manley-jeep-grand-wagoneer-way/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927594 Town & Country PHEVs not your bag? Jeep’s Mike Manley might have a Grand Wagoneer waiting for you in late 2015 for the 2016 model year. Motoring.com.au reports the three-row, seven- to eight-passenger SUV will serve as the brand’s flagship, competing against the likes of the Mercedes GL-Class and the upcoming BMW X7 as Jeep […]

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Town & Country PHEVs not your bag? Jeep’s Mike Manley might have a Grand Wagoneer waiting for you in late 2015 for the 2016 model year.

Motoring.com.au reports the three-row, seven- to eight-passenger SUV will serve as the brand’s flagship, competing against the likes of the Mercedes GL-Class and the upcoming BMW X7 as Jeep grows its market share in the United States, Brazil and Australia.

Speaking of the BMW X Series, Manley says the Grand Cherokee proved to all that Jeep could “compete at the very premium end of the segment,” citing the cross-shop between it and the X5 in the U.S. market as “phenomenal.” He’s also considering models aimed at the X4 and X6, believing such vehicles would be beneficial to the lineup:

If you consider the styling of Cherokee and Renegade, there’s perhaps [even] more of a market in D [segment] than E SUV [for sportier models]. I think it can fit with the brand.

As far as sales go, Manley says Jeep is on its way to selling over 1 million units in 2014, with a goal of doubling that number by 2018. When asked about 2015, however, all he stated was that there was an expectation for Jeep to continue climbing up the global market trail.

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Chart Of The Day: Jeep’s Importance At FCA In America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chart-day-jeeps-importance-fca-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chart-day-jeeps-importance-fca-america/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 12:02:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913482 Outside of Maserati, which sold more cars than Jaguar in August 2014, Jeep is America’s fastest-growing auto brand in 2014. Through the first eight months of 2014, Jeep’s U.S. volume is up 45%, an increase of more than 143,235 sales. Total FCA/Chrysler Group sales are up 14%. That’s no small feat, but it’s abundantly apparent […]

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Jeep USA sales chart 2014Outside of Maserati, which sold more cars than Jaguar in August 2014, Jeep is America’s fastest-growing auto brand in 2014. Through the first eight months of 2014, Jeep’s U.S. volume is up 45%, an increase of more than 143,235 sales.

Total FCA/Chrysler Group sales are up 14%. That’s no small feat, but it’s abundantly apparent that Jeep is motivating much of the Chrysler/Dodge/Fiat/Jeep/Ram gains. (Ram brand sales are up by nearly 58,000 units year-to-date.)

As FCA/Chrysler Group car volume plunges, sliding 18% this year according to the automaker, Jeep’s massive improvements are all the more important.

And it’s not all Cherokee-derived. Sales of Jeep’s other models, the Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, Patriot, and Compass, are up 11% in 2014. The Chrysler family now relies on the brand for more than three out of every ten sales, well up from fewer than two out of every ten in 2004.

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The Source Of August 2014’s U.S. Auto Sales Growth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/source-august-2014s-u-s-auto-sales-growth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/source-august-2014s-u-s-auto-sales-growth/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 12:28:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906633 Forecasts didn’t call for rain on August 2014’s auto sales parade, but there was definitely a general feeling of overcast heading into Wednesday as automakers prepared to release their monthly and year-to-date sales results. The rate of growth in the U.S. auto industry since the recession ended has been striking, but the chances of that […]

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U.S. auto sales growth by units gained August 2014Forecasts didn’t call for rain on August 2014’s auto sales parade, but there was definitely a general feeling of overcast heading into Wednesday as automakers prepared to release their monthly and year-to-date sales results.

The rate of growth in the U.S. auto industry since the recession ended has been striking, but the chances of that growth lasting forever – particularly when a month like August is compared with a very strong month like August 2013 – seemed slim.

Yet auto sales increased by 5.5% to more than 1.58 million in August 2014, an improvement of more than 80,000 units.

The forecasts weren’t all wrong. High-volume brands like Chevrolet, Dodge, and Volkswagen all reported losses, a 13% decline in Volkswagen’s case, the 17th consecutive month in which Volkswagen brand sales have decreased in the United States.

Jaguar volume fell 31%. Infiniti volume fell 23%. Fiat was down 20%. Scion sales likewise slid 20%. Cadillac volume was off August 2013’s pace by 18%. Sales at BMW’s Mini brand were down 17%. Buick and Volvo both lost 10%; Acura and Land Rover fell 9%. Lincoln was just south of level.

The bright spots, however, were particularly bright. Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Nissan, and Toyota were the biggest brands to post significant increases. Maserati, Porsche, Smart, Mitsubishi, and Audi were among the lower-volume auto brands to post meaningful improvements: 278%, 36%, 34%, 28%, and 22%, respectively.

Mazda, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, GMC, and Lexus all grew by at least 10%. Toyota brand sales were up 7%. Hyundai grew 6%. (Kia, Chrysler, Honda, Bentley, and Ford improvements were all below the market’s 5.5% growth rate.)

Back to those five large and fast-growing brands, Jeep reported its best-ever sales month for the new Cherokee, America’s eighth-ranked SUV/crossover in August. Ram’s market share in the full-size truck category grew by more than four percentage points. Subaru sold more than 50,000 vehicles for the first time in a single month, and Nissan reported a car sales improvement of 18% in a car market that improved by just 2%. Toyota shot the RAV4 up to top spot among utility vehicles with record sales in a second consecutive month.

As for the fast-growing lower-volume brands, Maserati outsold Jaguar, albeit by just 49 units. Even with the Macan excluded, Porsche sales jumped 7.3%. Mercedes-Benz reported more than 1000 Smart Fortwo sales for the third time in five months, having not done so previously since September 2012.

Mitsubishi is not back to being a brand that can sell more than 300,000 cars annually in the United States, but sales have increased in six consecutive months and in ten of the last eleven months.

Audi reported its highest-ever monthly sales in the U.S. in August, generating 41% of the brand’s sales with Q models and the A4 Allroad, including the first 243 Q3 sales.

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Cherokee Isn’t Slowing Down Other Jeeps http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/cherokee-isnt-slowing-jeeps/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/cherokee-isnt-slowing-jeeps/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 12:27:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888665 On a percentage scale, through the first seven months of 2014, the only auto brand improving its year-over-year U.S. sales tally more proficiently than Jeep is Maserati. In other words, Jeep is the fastest-growing volume auto brand in America in 2014. Based on pure volume gains, no auto brand, certainly not Maserati, has improved on […]

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2014 Jeep CherokeeOn a percentage scale, through the first seven months of 2014, the only auto brand improving its year-over-year U.S. sales tally more proficiently than Jeep is Maserati. In other words, Jeep is the fastest-growing volume auto brand in America in 2014.

Based on pure volume gains, no auto brand, certainly not Maserati, has improved on its seven-month 2013 sales total as successfully as Jeep has, with 120,708 extra sales over the last seven months.

Subaru sales are up by 43,131 units. The Ram brand is up by 44,916 units. The Toyota brand is up by 60,146 units. Nissan brand sales are up by 84,295 units.

At this stage last year, including 6048 Libertys and not a single Cherokee, Jeep had sold 271,682 vehicles in the United States. Jeep has sold 392,390 vehicles so far this year, making Jeep Chrysler Group/FCA’s highest-volume brand. (The historic pairing of Dodge and Ram have combined for 602,098 sales year-to-date.)

Things could be different. What if the Liberty simply expired? What if FCA decided to rely on the aging, never-completely-loved Compass and Patriot in the small crossover arena? It’s not as though automakers haven’t allowed vehicles to run a long course before. What if Jeep decided to reject a Fiat car-based architecture and styling that was, especially when the vehicle debuted, shocking?

What if the Cherokee had not returned?

First, we have to realize the hypothetical nature of the question, as evidenced by its, “What if,” opening. We can’t know how many Cherokee sales were generated by buyers who would otherwise have selected a Patriot, or perhaps a low-end Grand Cherokee, or maybe even a Wrangler.

Second, we should remember that while the Cherokee isn’t an outright top seller – the Honda CR-V sells nearly twice as often – or even the top-selling Jeep, it has quickly become a common sight on U.S. roads. It’s America’s ninth-best-selling utility vehicle so far this year; 95,259 have been sold in 2014 in addition to the 25,786 sold in the latter stages of 2013.

Jeep USA sales chart July 2014 YTD150,000 Cherokee sales, perhaps 165,000, are to be expected by calendar year’s end. Those numbers are similar to the Liberty’s figures from its heyday: an average of 167,000 were sold annually between 2002 and 2005, when Jeep’s lineup didn’t include a four-door Wrangler, a Patriot, or a Compass.

Excluding the Cherokee from Jeep’s sales tally this year sees the brand’s total volume fall from 392,390 units to 297,131 over the last seven months, or 25,449 more sales than the brand generated during the same period one year ago, a 9.4% increase.

In other words, without the Cherokee, Jeep is still a healthy brand, as the hugely inexpensive Compass and Patriot (up a combined 16% to 90,224 sales year-to-date) increase their volume, as the Grand Cherokee rises 9.4% to a Jeep-high 104,782 units, as total Wrangler volume jumps 10.8% to 102,125 units.

On the other hand, Jeep would not lay claim to Fastest Growing Auto Brand status.

Surprise of the day: expanded product ranges help. Mitsubishi, the next-fastest-growing brand, with a 28.9% year-to-date improvement, has produced meaningful volume gains only because of the Mirage. Without that car, which wasn’t on sale at this time last year, Mitsubishi is up just 1.3%. Talk about brands that have evolved. Or devolved. Eleven years ago, a 25.6% decline meant Mitsubishi sales fell below 257,000 units. In a vastly improved 2014, Mitsubishi might sell 80,000 new vehicles.

Jeep should top 650,000 U.S. sales by year’s end. Next year, with the Renegade assisting, we could be having this discussion again.

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Autoworkers, Agribusiness, and Algae: Toledo Back in Business, For Now http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/autoworkers-agribusiness-algae-toledo-back-business-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/autoworkers-agribusiness-algae-toledo-back-business-now/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:37:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881618 Toledo, Ohio has just squeaked by a major environmental crisis. A toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie poisoned the city’s water supply, leaving over 400,000 residents high and dry for three days. Restaurants, schools and businesses closed, the National Guard trucked in water, and the governor declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, Fiat-Chrysler had to […]

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Toledo, Ohio has just squeaked by a major environmental crisis. A toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie poisoned the city’s water supply, leaving over 400,000 residents high and dry for three days. Restaurants, schools and businesses closed, the National Guard trucked in water, and the governor declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, Fiat-Chrysler had to resort to creative measures to keep its Toledo Jeep plant running.

Operations stayed on track at the Toledo complex, thanks to some quick thinking by management, and the dedication of line workers. According to a company spokesman, the plant used tanker trucks and bottled water to overcome the crisis and keep 5,000 employees sufficiently hydrated. Even a short closure of the plant would have been bad news for FCA. The Cherokee and the Wrangler are among the company’s fastest-selling and most profitable models, accounting for a major chunk of the partnership’s recent run into the black.

With the ban on tap water now lifted, the worst of the crisis seems to be over. Even so, the threat to the Lake Erie watershed and the millions of people who depend on it still looms. Toledo’s water was poisoned with microcystin, a byproduct of blue-green algae. The toxin causes liver failure at fairly low concentrations. It’s difficult to filter out, especially at high concentrations. And it can’t be removed via boiling- that only concentrates the poison. In other words, it’s a public health nightmare and nearly as bad for business as a power outage. Preventing the blue-green algae is the only realistic prophylactic, which itself has been a decades-long struggle in the most polluted of the Great Lakes.

Blue-green algae primarily feeds off phosphorous and other organic pollutants. In the 60s and 70s, the primary source of these pollutants were the cities and industrial establishments on the Lake Erie shore. Untreated sewage and industrial byproducts choked the lake, eventually leading to fish kills and toxic blooms. The situation turned around in the 80s, after regulation and billion-dollar cleanups helped remedy the pollution. In the 90s, though, the situation began to reverse course. New farming techniques relied on heavy application of phosphorous and other fertilizers. This produced increased yields, but increased the inflow of organic pollutants into the lake. Zebra mussels also invaded the lake after 1988, producing more phosphorous and contributing to a vicious cycle of algae production. It wasn’t long until the algae blooms reared their ugly heads yet again.

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                  In 2011, Lake Erie suffered one of its worst blooms ever. Nearly a sixth of the lake’s surface was covered in algae, almost 2,000 square miles. Phosphorous was again the culprit, but it alone wasn’t enough to explain the bloom’s severity. Instead, scientists point to climate change: specifically, the warming of Lake Erie’s waters. Warm water combined with torrential rains produced the catastrophic algae bloom, as more pollutants washed into Lake Erie from farmland. Scientists now fear that a combination of pollutants and changes in Lake Erie’s ecology could lead to more frequent algal bloom events. Unless something is done to rein in the green tide, more drinking water bans could be in the future for the communities that draw their supply from the lake.

What does that mean for the regional auto industry? Several major auto plants and their suppliers operate in the Lake Erie watershed area, in cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Toledo. In addition, much of Lake Erie is a major commercial route for freight shipping. Many parts of the automobile production process are highly water-intensive, such as painting and steelmaking. Obviously, the standards for drinking water and water for industrial uses are quite different. But if a city like Cleveland is forced to shut down its water treatment system entirely in response to an algal bloom, it would spell big trouble for automakers with facilities in the area. The welfare of the workers is another factor to consider. Toledo Jeep dodged a bullet this time, but in future water crises it might not be so lucky.

The economic vitality of the Lake Erie region depends on ensuring the health of the lake. That became apparent after the infamous 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, which embarrassed Ohio residents and hurt the local economy. There’s been an enormous amount of progress since then, but new technologies present new challenges. Clamping down on the algae blooms is essential to ensuring the competitiveness of the industries around Lake Erie. The environment and the industrial world are never completely divorced from one another.

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Chrysler Group Asks For Hitch Production Boost Amid NHTSA Inquiry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chrysler-group-asks-for-hitch-production-boost-amid-nhtsa-inquiry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chrysler-group-asks-for-hitch-production-boost-amid-nhtsa-inquiry/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870010 A day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked what was taking so long for a supplier to make enough hitches to cover 2.5 million recalled vehicles, Chrysler Group ordered its supplier to boost production. Automotive News reports the inquiry, sent July 2, noted that it would take five years for Chrysler to repair […]

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A day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked what was taking so long for a supplier to make enough hitches to cover 2.5 million recalled vehicles, Chrysler Group ordered its supplier to boost production.

Automotive News reports the inquiry, sent July 2, noted that it would take five years for Chrysler to repair all 2.5 million 1993 – 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 – 2007 Libertys with trailer hitches meant to minimize the potential for fuel tank ruptures and fires in low-speed rear-end accidents. In turn, Chrysler told supplier Northern Stamping Inc. to raise its daily production rate from 2,205 to 3,511 hitches.

The affected vehicles will be able to be equipped with the hitches beginning August 1, with the last ones to receive theirs by March of 2015.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Jeep Wrangler Sport S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2014-jeep-wrangler-sport-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2014-jeep-wrangler-sport-s/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:30:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=868346   A common complaint among the Best & Brightest is that certain consumer oriented publications don’t get the Jeep Wrangler. America’s sports car, as Enzo Ferrari once labeled it, is unfairly docked for performing poorly on-road, without taking into account that its mission is to excel off-road. Even though I’ve driven off-road precisely twice in my life, […]

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A common complaint among the Best & Brightest is that certain consumer oriented publications don’t get the Jeep Wrangler. America’s sports car, as Enzo Ferrari once labeled it, is unfairly docked for performing poorly on-road, without taking into account that its mission is to excel off-roadEven though I’ve driven off-road precisely twice in my life, I decided to get to the heart of the matter.

Most press vehicles are fully-loaded, top trim examples with abnormally high sticker prices and all the bells and whistles that one can possibly order. Not this baby.

2014-Jeep-Wrangler-Sport-Interior

The Wrangler Sport seen here has – get ready for it – manual locks, crank windows, no touch screen and an honest-to-god manual transmission. In any other car, this level of equipment would bear the odious stench of poverty and poor credit. In a Jeep, it’s somewhat charming. The UConnect 130 is an old-school head unit unlike the rest of the range, with knobs and buttons replacing touch screens and QNX software. There’s an auxiliary port and a hidden USB port – you’re better off using the former if you want to play your music off of an iPod.

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As refreshing as it may be to see an honest Wrangler on paved roads, rather than a top-spec Mickey Thompson-shod Unlimited Rubicon, there’s still the unavoidable fact that no Wrangler is particularly pleasant to drive on the street. It’s simply not made for it, in the same way that a McLaren 650S, with its carbon fiber bodywork, shouldn’t be driven on a dirt road pockmarked with rocks and divots.

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Unfortunately, the majority of our infrastructure does consist of paved roads, and depending on their condition, the Wrangler’s ride quality ranges from “oscillating” to “back of the school bus”, in terms of how severely it crashes and bounds over bumps, ripples and potholes.

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Is it my own damn fault that I’m driving the Wrangler in an environment that is totally unsuitable for the car? Yes, but, I’d venture to say that the majority of these vehicles are driven in urban and suburban areas, and buyers hardly seem to care – or they put up with the Wrangler’s dynamic drawbacks because of its aesthetic appeal and rugged image.

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That’s not to say it’s all negative: with its small footprint and ultra-high driving position, you get a good view of the road, even if the Wrangler isn’t the most nimble-footed beast. Parking is a cinch relative to a lot of other SUVs, and the rear can be used for either human or material cargo in a pinch – but not necessarily both. That distinctive shape may give it tough-guy “Defender-lite” looks, but it also has the aerodynamics of a garden shed, and fuel economy in town was dismal, around 15 mpg.

The sole glaring drawback is with the removable soft top, which is needlessly complex to operate and poorly explained in the instruction manual. I will cop to being a bit dense when it comes to manual tasks that require pattern recognition, and the multiple latches, zippers, tabs and closures required to raise and lower the roof are my own idea of hell. Perhaps I was under the mistaken impression that should one get caught in a rain storm, one could simply pull over by the side of the road, hop out and raise the top, like you can in a Miata. I was wrong, and my passenger and I got a 55 mph baptismal thanks to my ineptitude. At the very least, Jeep should look into a new technical writer for their owner’s manual.

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Despite the myriad flaws and unsuitability for my own driving conditions, I kept coming back to the Wrangler with an overriding sense of affection. Car enthusiasts talk about the purity of the XJ Cherokee and the Mazda Miata as if they are two sides of the same enthusiast vehicle proposition, and always seem to skip over the one that started it all. But here we have an honest-to-god basic vehicle, made in America, for $25,295 (if you don’t need A/C, a base model sport is just $22,395) that has charm and authenticity in spades. The Wrangler is not for everyone – and certainly not for me. But Jeep manages to sell every example they make, and consumers seem utterly unaffected by these negative reports.

 

 

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FCA Is Hungry For Diesels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fca-is-hungry-for-diesels/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fca-is-hungry-for-diesels/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:22:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860921   Fiat Chrysler is hungry for more 3.0L VM Motori V6 diesel engines, but capacity constraints are limiting how many engines can be allocated for North America. VM Motori, a subsidiary of FCA, can build about 100,000 V6 diesel engines, with about half of those destined for North America. The V6 is offered in both […]

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2014-Ram-1500-diese-logo-450x337Fiat Chrysler is hungry for more 3.0L VM Motori V6 diesel engines, but capacity constraints are limiting how many engines can be allocated for North America.

VM Motori, a subsidiary of FCA, can build about 100,000 V6 diesel engines, with about half of those destined for North America. The V6 is offered in both the Ram 1500 pickup as well as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

But a report in Automotive News paints an interesting picture of the demand for the V6 in each vehicle. The take rate for diesel Grand Cherokees has leveled off at about 8 percent, or 15,000 units annually.

By contrast, Ram boss Reid Bigland claims that

“We got well in excess of 10,000 orders in just the first few days that we opened this thing up, and that ordering and demand has really sustained itself,”

According to Bigland, the EcoDiesel Ram 1500s spend an average of 13 days on dealer lots, versus 94 days for gasoline versions. A search of Cars.com shows just 1,839 EcoDiesel Rams, but 3,907 Grand Cherokees, suggesting that the Ram (which sells in much bigger numbers) has a much tighter supply of their oil-burners.

Even so, Manley and Bigland denied that they are horse trading over diesel allocation for their respective brands.

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Next-Generation Jeep Wrangler To Take Fight To Soft-Roaders, Hold Rubicon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/next-generation-jeep-wrangler-to-take-fight-to-soft-roaders-hold-rubicon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/next-generation-jeep-wrangler-to-take-fight-to-soft-roaders-hold-rubicon/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860793 With more SUVs preferring the high street over muddy, rocky trails, Jeep boss Mike Manley plans for the next-generation Wrangler to better compete against these soft-roaders while still maintaining its Rubicon cred. Automotive News reports Manley’s plan to include “continued improvements of the powertrain package,” which may mean being fitted with Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic and […]

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With more SUVs preferring the high street over muddy, rocky trails, Jeep boss Mike Manley plans for the next-generation Wrangler to better compete against these soft-roaders while still maintaining its Rubicon cred.

Automotive News reports Manley’s plan to include “continued improvements of the powertrain package,” which may mean being fitted with Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic and either a smaller gasoline engine than the current 3.6-liter V6 or a diesel like that found in Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel.

Regarding weight, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne believes aluminium would be another key ingredient in not only bringing down weight, but improving fuel economy on top of the aforementioned powertrain upgrades.

As for the solid front and rear axles that give the Wrangler its off-road prowess to compensate for increased weight and rougher highway travel, Manley didn’t say whether or not they would stay for the next generation of the iconic vehicle — due sometime in 2017 at the earliest — though he vowed Jeep would not “dilute what Wrangler stands for,” citing his killing of the two-wheel-drive Wrangler upon taking the brand’s reins.

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Capsule Review: Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-jeep-grand-cherokee-ecodiesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-jeep-grand-cherokee-ecodiesel/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2014 16:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=848298 To most North American consumers, diesel is an exotic powertrain option, full of promise when it comes to torque and efficiency. It rarely delivers on the promise. Based on our impressions of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the same 3.0L V6 fitted to the Jeep Grand Cherokee seemed to be extremely promising – especially now that […]

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To most North American consumers, diesel is an exotic powertrain option, full of promise when it comes to torque and efficiency. It rarely delivers on the promise.

Based on our impressions of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the same 3.0L V6 fitted to the Jeep Grand Cherokee seemed to be extremely promising – especially now that gas prices have spiked to record highs. But something was lost in the transition from truck to SUV.

The most jarring difference is the lack of smoothness that won us over in the Ram. The same engine that is nearly silent and effortlessly smooth in the Ram seems to have a much more audible, agricultural note, with inferior NVH characteristics. Somehow, the leisure-oriented SUV ends up feeling more like the work vehicle.

Diesel die-hards may shrug this off as panty-waist behavior from someone not used to compression ignition engines, but convincing customers to spend the extra $4,500 is going to be a tough sell for anyone who didn’t buy a diesel Grand Cherokee last time around. Especially when they hit the remote start only to be greeted with a school-bus soundtrack on cold starts.

That’s not to say that there are only drawbacks with the diesel. There is prodigious torque on tap (420 lb-ft, and 240 horsepower), and all that power is a great match for the silky smooth 8-speed ZF gearbox. Even compared to the 5.7L Hemi, passing is effortless at speed, while highway cruising tends to downplay the drivetrain noise. Only the woosh of the turbo is heard when you summon the prodigious twist of the VM Motori V6.

The rest of the car, like all Grand Cherokees, is superb. The steering has more feel than many passenger cars, while the air suspension gives superb ride characteristics on any road. I am on record as being UConnect’s biggest fan, and I can think of no better car to cover long distances in. Except for a gasoline powered Grand Cherokee.

Even though the EcoDiesel returned about 27 mpg (and that’s cruising at 75 mph with the A/C on – the EPA rates it at 28 mpg highway), I would find it hard to justify buying anything beyond the Pentastar V6/8-speed combo, similar to what Jack’s father bought.

If you are doing serious towing, or covering enough miles to justify the added cost of the diesel engine (and the higher resale value of the diesel should also help), then perhaps it makes sense. For myself, and many other consumers, the V6, V8 – hell, even the SRT – models will make more sense, given how quickly the higher trim level Summit models with the EcoDiesel can breach the $60k barrier.

As far as I’m concerned, the Grand Cherokee is still the best SUV on sale at any price. It has just the right mix of luxury, performance and discretion to be appropriate in any environment. The driving experience is more in line with premium European offerings than anything built by America or Japan. And given all this, I had high hopes for the diesel, and it did deliver on the promise of V8-like power with much better fuel economy. But I’m not sure it’s the all-purpose solution that many people were expecting. For me, that would be a nicely equipped Laredo with the gasoline V6.

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