In a Bid to Boost Appeal, Jeep Cherokee Dials Up the Lux

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Before most of us were aware of the existence of coronavirus, Fiat Chrysler was idling its Jeep Cherokee plant to align production with falling sales. It certainly wasn’t the first time in recent memory. As the model grew in age, sales fell — to the tune of 20 percent in 2019.

Cherokee production, like that of all other vehicles assembled in the United States, is now offline, but there’ll be a proposition awaiting Jeep buyers when things return to normal (or whatever passes for normal in the months ahead).

That proposition is the Cherokee Latitude LUX. According to a product addition first noticed by Mopar Insiders, the model’s most popular trim — which encompasses Latitude Plus, as well — will gain a loftier entry.

Latitude LUX adds a host of goodies found on higher-end trims, including a six-cylinder engine, that a buyer would otherwise have to walk up the trim ladder to receive. Not everyone wants to shell out for a Limited, nor do they want to add packages left and right to assemble the features they want (and a bunch of ones they don’t).

The biggest get for Latitude LUX buyers is Fiat Chrysler’s 3.2-liter Pentastar V6, which greatly ups the oomph over the Latitude Plus’ standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder. That alone is a $1,945 standalone option on the lesser trim. Joining the upgraded mill are chairs swathed in Nappa leather, with heaters positioned beneath the front occupants’ backsides (the front passenger gets a power seat with lumbar adjustment). The steering wheel gets the same treatment. Elsewhere, remote start joins windshield wiper de-icers (with rain sensitive blades), forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking.

All of this comes to an after-destination price of $31,395 in front-drive guise, compared to $29,090 for a zero-option Latitude Plus. Going the all-wheel drive route tacks on another $1,500. It would seem that the reduced cost of getting into a V6 would make moving up to a LUX worthwhile to many, minus any other addition.

While the LUX is new, the Cherokee is not, and the newly added trim might have a short lifespan. Jeep is expected to reveal a next-generation 2021 model later this year.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Phxmotor Phxmotor on Apr 06, 2020

    If anyone compares... actually drives and compares...SUVs in this category the Jeep Cherokee with the 5.7 is a breathtaking ride. Power. Grace. Reliability. It’s well thought out and every damn bug has been worked out. It’s one of America’s great sleepers. Looks benign... but it’s a fxxxing rocket. And a joy to drive.

    • See 2 previous
    • PenguinBoy PenguinBoy on Apr 06, 2020

      @Michael S6 I believe that the Grand Cherokee is built on a Jeep developed platform that is also used by Mercedes Benz. The Cherokee is based on a heavily modified Fiat platform, so there's that.

  • Steve203 Steve203 on Apr 06, 2020

    A few months ago, FCA offered buyouts to 3900 people working at Belvidere, which was just about everyone there after they cut the third shift. Wonder how many takers they got?

  • Dartdude Having the queen of nothing as the head of Dodge is a recipe for disaster. She hasn't done anything with Chrysler for 4 years, May as well fold up Chrysler and Dodge.
  • Pau65792686 I think there is a need for more sedans. Some people would rather drive a car over SUV’s or CUV’s. If Honda and Toyota can do it why not American brands. We need more affordable sedans.
  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
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