Auto blogSat, 19 Apr 2014 21:01:00 EST
As we mentioned, Jeep is bringing a quartet of concepts to the Beijing Motor Show this year. Its largest model, the Grand Cherokee, is nowhere to be found, but its smallest is. That, of course, would be the new Renegade, which has been done up as the Zi You Xia design concept.
Taking its name from the Mandarin word (or words) for "rebel," the Zi You Xia takes its inspiration from the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, with a Warm Chocolate Gray paintjob with contrasting dark bronze trim. The roof, grille and mirror caps are color-keyed to match the rest of the exterior, riding on 20-inch alloys in the same dark bronze finish.
Inside it's all Piano Black, Anodized Copper and brown leather with plaid fabric inserts. Scope it out in the high-res image gallery above and the press release below.
While we're still a ways off from the automotive awards season proper, where things like North American Car and Truck of the Year, Motor Trend's Car of the Year and Car and Driver's Ten Best are named, that doesn't mean there aren't trophies being handed out to deserving automakers. Ward's 10 Best Interiors being one of them.
As the name might imply, the magazine focuses on the very best interior treatments in the US market. Whereas some awards purposely exclude extreme, high-dollar offerings, Ward's considers them - the only requirement is that a vehicle has a "new or significantly redesigned interior."
Ward's offered up the list of winners in simple, alphabetical order, and it only seems fair to do the same:
The 2014 Easter Jeep Safari is set to begin this weekend in Moab, Utah, and while it's sure to be a blast for Jeep enthusiasts from all corners of the world, we're looking forward to the wild, off-road ready concepts that Jeep will be bringing to the red rocks. As you can see in our handy headline, there are six such vehicles in total, each of which sports a variety of tweaks and custom bits.
Unlike in years past, where Jeep graced us with some outrageous concepts like the Mighty FC or J-12, this year's vehicles are a bit more restrained and a bit more buildable by enthusiasts. That's not by accident, officials tell us. They wanted to put this year's focus on attainable vehicles and accessories from Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts that existing owners can use to augment their own vehicles. So let's get to it.
We'll start with the Wranglers first. There are three concepts of the jeepiest of Jeep coming to Moab - the Level Red, Maximum Performance and Mojo. The Level Red and the Mojo (seen above) are similar from a suspension and engine standpoint. Both boast a two-inch Jeep Performance Parts lift kit, which officials tell us is coming to market in the next few months. There are a pair of Dana 44 crate axles on both the front and rear, while a Jeep Performance Parts Rock-Trac transfer case has been fitted. The 3.6-liter V6 engines on both Jeeps can breathe a bit easier thanks to a new cold-air intake and exhaust system.
If you've noticed that there have been more recalls than usual this year, you may be on to something. According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the US market is on pace to break a record for recalls. In 2013, 22 million cars were recalled. We're only a third of the way through 2014, though, and we've already halved that figure, with 11 million units recalled. That's wild.
Considering the past few months, it shouldn't be a surprise that General Motors is leading the charge, with six million of the 11 million units recalled coming from one of the General's four brands. Between truck recalls, CUV recalls and the ignition switch recall, 2014 hasn't been a great year for GM.
Other recall leaders include Nissan (one million Sentra and Altima sedans), Honda (900,000 Odyssey minivans), Toyota (over one million units in a few recalls), Volkswagen (150,000 Passat sedans), Chrysler (644,000 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs) and most recently, Ford (434,000 units, the bulk of which were early Ford Escape CUVs). So while it's been a bad year for GM so far, its competitors aren't doing too well, either.
Early last month, we reported on Chrysler issuing a preemptive, proactive recall for about 25,000 units of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango. The issue revolved around a brake system that wasn't causing any actual problems, but delivered an unsatisfactory brake feel, so Auburn Hills called in a good 25,000 of SUVs around the world, including 18,700 in the United States.
Now Chrysler, having apparently determined that the brake problem on its sport utes is actually much bigger than it initially realized, has drastically broadened the scope of the recall. As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a recall for precisely 655,354 examples of the Grand Cherokee and Durango, covering the 2011 through 2014 model years. In addition, Chrysler is recalling 42,380 units in Canada, 21,376 in Mexico and 159,685 overseas.
The problem which Chrysler found revolves around the brake booster, whose center shell has been found to be subject to corrosion, allowing water to get into the brake system. That water in turn could freeze, preventing the brakes from working as well as expected.
Jeep has an annual tradition of debuting wild, new concepts during its Easter Jeep Safari, and this year looks to be no different. The automaker has already confirmed two of the six vehicles for 2014 - the Cherokee Dakar (pictured above) and Wrangler Mojo. This year's event runs in Moab, Utah, from April 12-20.
There are no official details about either of the concepts yet - Jeep will release more info on the new models next week. Judging by the pictures, though, the Cherokee Dakar appears to be lifted with some knobby off-road tires. The Wrangler Mojo looks to have a bulging hood that might hide a more powerful engine underneath.
Past vehicles at the Easter Jeep Safari have included a Hemi V8-powered Wrangler, a classically inspired pickup and modernized Jeep Forward Control. Since this is the brand's chance to express itself every year, hopefully it has some more sensational concepts up its sleeve. Scroll down to read the little information that has been revealed about this year's models so far.
The investigation that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened into the Jeep Liberty in October 2013 has been closed. NHTSA received two (!) complaints about fires starting in the driver's door, thought to be caused by the master power window switch. The initial estimate was that 80,000 Libertys could be roped into a possible recall, but according to a report in the Detroit News the agency examined records for 425,000 Chrysler products that used the same window switch, including the Dodge Nitro and Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
After canvassing 265 warranty claims related to the master switches, NHTSA concluded that the rate of fires compared to the "large population of vehicles" was rather low, and that there was no trend pattern behind the few issues it did find. Perhaps with that, and the closure of the trailer hitch investigation, the Liberty can finally rest in peace.
While there's no shortage of excitement surrounding the new Jeep Renegade, one of the limiting factors to the little trucklet will be its price. With the Kia Soul starting at $14,900 and the Nissan Juke kicking off at $18,990, the Renegade can't afford to stray away from that price bracket.
And judging by some potentially leaked pricing info, it won't. A quick Google search of "Jeep Renegade Price" reveals (at least for now) that the Italian-built Jeep will start at $18,595. The "as shown" price of $25,895 seems to indicate the Trailhawk model shown on Jeep's consumer page.
If the $18,595 figure is correct, it's likely for the base, two-wheel-drive Sport model, with the Latitude and Limited trims falling somewhere between there and the $25,895 as-equipped price of the Trailhawk.
The new Jeep Cherokee has been quite a success for Chrysler, but its factory workers are getting tired. The automaker has agreed to hire up to 1,000 part-time, temporary employees at its Toledo Assembly Complex where the CUV and Wrangler are built. It will allow the company to keep Jeep production moving, while giving laborers a break.
According to plant manager Chuck Padden in the Toledo Blade, full-time workers are regularly taking on 60 hours a week, and it's beginning to wear on them. "To get them more time off is important to us, to make sure they're refreshed, and can work safely," said Padden.
Chrysler has already hired 380 temporary, part-time workers for the plant, and 50 have been converted to full-time employees. The company is in the process of interviewing the rest of the new hires now and plans to have all 1,000 in place by the summer. They will work between 10 and 30 hours a week mostly on weekends for $15.78 per hour with limited benefits. The temporary positions will last "as long as demand continues for the Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Cherokee," said Jodi Tinson, Chrysler spokesperson for manufacturing and labor communications, to Autoblog in an email.
The headlines are still rolling in for the new Renegade that Jeep unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last week, but already reports are surfacing, citing sources within the company, about what Chrysler's iconic off-road brand will do next.
Speaking with Auto Express (whose reports we tend to take with a grain of salt or two), Jeep chief Mike Manley suggested that two courses of action are currently under consideration at Auburn Hills to develop two very different new models - one smaller and one larger than anything Jeep currently makes.
One plan would be to make an SUV or crossover even smaller than the new Renegade, although it isn't immediately clear what platform it would take. The Renegade (pictured above in Trailhawk spec) will be built in Italy alongside Fiat's upcoming 500X, but uses a heavily modified platform. We figure the smaller model, if approved, could base itself on the new Fiat Panda Cross.