WSJ Sheds Light On The Cherokee's Italian Roots

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
wsj sheds light on the cherokee s italian roots

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.

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  • Junebug Junebug on Mar 24, 2013

    The Wrangler Forum is all up in arms over this, 99% hate it, but if you poke them with a sharp enough stick they admit: Most never go off raod They (wranglers) are Not good on gas, handle well, and God help you if you ever have the death wobble But - they have the highest resale of anything on 4 wheels - go figure! And if I had more money, i'd buy a 4 door Wrangler in a second.

  • Mad_science Mad_science on Mar 25, 2013

    Any rant I'd like to apply to this has already been applied to the Compass. My hope is just that it's actually good and sells well so as to keep Jeep well funded and semi-relevant. BTW, for everyone who wants an old Cherokee, it's called the Wrangler unlimited now. Spec-for-spec they're pretty much equivalent. Also, they made like 500 million XJs, you can find them anywhere for $2500.

  • Dawn Maple They haven't even fixed the airbag issues and recalls completely, so why waste more time and money on another "safety feature" that removes choices from the driver? We would be safer getting in a car driven by Helen Keller. Oh wait with driver assist, all she has to do is find her car and turn it on.
  • Lorenzo I'm out. I'd never find it in the dark.
  • VoGhost Minivans don't sell well, and the market has been declining. And while the entire 'range anxiety' myth is mostly a big oil propaganda designed to scare the weak minded, minivans are often how families travel to grandma's house, so that will be a concern, unless VW can gain access to the Supercharger network. I could see 50K units at peak, declining to 25K/year after a couple of years, unless VW can price competitively with Tesla.
  • VoGhost Glad you're healthy, Tim
  • VoGhost 20 years ago, Sportage was the bottom of the barrel, a joke. Kia's come a long way.