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Auto blogWed, 19 Nov 2014 09:29:00 EST
In the market for a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Dodge Durango? Well, if you fancy a more expressive color for your new SUV, you'd better get your order in, or plan on waiting until well into 2015.
The SUVs will be limited to just four monochromatic shades - black, white, silver and gray - until at least February, thanks to an upgrade to the paint shop at the two vehicles' Jefferson North factory. For the Grand Cherokee, that means it's losing more than half its color palette while the Durango is dropping two-thirds of its color catalog.
The loss of colors is inconvenient, but the upgrade will have a slightly bigger effect on the overall supply of SUVs, as Chrysler will need to end its relentless build pace at the factory for a three-week shutdown starting on December 22. The good news for fans of the SUVs is that once the work is completed, we should see a gradual expansion of the color palettes for both the Durango and Grand Cherokee, beyond even what's offered now.
Following the forced-hand introduction of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, there has definitely been a mix of responses revolving around everything from its design to the return of the legendary nameplate. As evidence of this, just check out the 1,000+ comments in our article last week and some of the many opinions that were voiced. Following this not-too-warm reception, Ward's Auto had a chance to talk to Chrysler designer chief - and SRT president - Ralph Gilles, who shed a little more light on the styling direction of the new Cherokee.
Rather than looking to previous models for inspiration, Gilles says that the Cherokee has been designed to be more contemporary, with Mark Allen, head of Jeep design, adding that a main goal was to make sure the design still looks modern five years from now. Interestingly, Gilles does point out that one of the design elements incorporated on the new Cherokee that pays homage to past Jeeps is the sharply downward angle for the leading edge of the beltline, which he notes is meant to mimic the look of the old YJ and TJ Wrangler models fitted with half doors. Of course, the squared-off wheel openings - a signature Jeep cue - are still used.
This is probably a design that will need to be seen on the street in actual daylight to properly assess, but in the meantime, we'll bring you full images and impressions when the Cherokee debuts at next month's New York Auto Show.
There may not be many ways to forecast what an automaker is planning for the future, but there are some. Trademark applications are one of them, and Chrysler has just applied with the US Patent and Trademark Office to protect the name "Trackhawk." The question is, what's it planning on using it for? We don't know for sure, but we can put together an educated guess or two. And one guess is that Jeep will use the name to replace the letters SRT on the performance version of the Grand Cherokee.
How do we figure, you ask? From a number of developments. For starters, the SRT division has been reintegrated into the Dodge brand. Those letters currently appear on only two vehicles from outside the Dodge lineup: one is the Grand Cherokee SRT, and the other is the Chrysler 300 SRT. We've heard ruminations (however unconfirmed) that the latter could be either discontinued or possibly relabeled, and if the same proves true of the GC, the Trackhawk name could serve as a on-road performance counterpart to the Trailhawk label applied to off-road versions of models like the Cherokee and Renegade.
Logical it may be, but it's hardly a foregone conclusion. The Trackhawk name could just as easily be used for a new concept (like the Trailhawk name was in 2007), for another kind of trim level or for something else entirely. In fact we don't even know for sure it'll be used by the Jeep brand specifically, or used at all for that matter. Automakers have been known, after all, to register names they don't end up using.