For Sale By:Private Seller
Interior Color: Blue
Options: 4-Wheel Drive
Drive Type: 4X4
Exterior Color: Blue
Trim: 1/4 Ton
Lima, Montana, United States
Striving for improved fuel economy, we already knew that Chrysler will begin using a nine-speed automatic transmission in some of its new products this year, but what we haven't known is that volume at which this gearbox will be used. According to Bloomberg, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been quoted as saying that the automaker expects to sell close to 200,000 units equipped with this new transmission in 2013. Those gear-rich trannies will be spread out across three models, consisting of the redesigned Chrysler 200, the still-unnamed Jeep Liberty replacement and the Dodge Dart.
This transmission should play a pivotal role in making Chrysler vehicles more competitive in their respective segments. Just for comparison, one of the Dart's key competitors, the Toyota Corolla, still uses a four-speed automatic, and a previous report indicates that the next-generation 200 could get up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway, which is better than most non-hybrid midsize sedans on the market. Marchionne says that the new Jeep model is expected during the second quarter of this year, but there is no word as to when the new 200 or nine-speed Dart will debut, but clearly Dodge would like to have the transmission in its compact yesterday. As for that volume figure, it definitely doesn't seem out of reach since the Dart, Liberty and 200 combined for a total of more than 225,000 units in 2012.
How many more gears can we expect in future cars? Probably not many more, since the CEO of transmission-builder ZF, Stefan Sommer, previously stated that nine speeds was the "natural limit" for transmissions.
Nearly every automaker doing business in the SUV or pickup truck segments offers a package designed to improve the off-road capabilities of its wares. But, of course, not all such factory kits are created equal. How, then, to separate the wheat from the chaff? Gather each of them up and put them through their paces, naturally.
The folks from Four Wheeler and PickupTrucks.com joined forces to run just such a comparison test, with the winner named the Ultimate Factory 4x4. A total of seven vehicles showed up to the fight: the 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, 2012 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X and Xterra PRO-4X, 2012 Ram Power Wagon, and 2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail and Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Series.
With the contestants in place, the whole crew put each vehicle through a battery of tests that included skidpad and acceleration measurements, a hillclimb, a rocky stairstep course and a rock garden. Considering the nature of the beasts, on-road ride and comfort were not part of the routine.
We've heard rumors before about a new, baby Jeep to slot below the new-for-2014 Cherokee (pictured) in the automaker's lineup. Now, Edmunds is reporting that the new crossover will arrive sometime in 2014, and will be about the same size as the Ford Fiesta. This currently unnamed vehicle will effectively replace both the Compass and Patriot in the Jeep lineup.
Speaking to Edmunds, Jeep CEO Mike Manley said that the new, small Jeep will be assembled in Italy and marketed globally beginning sometime next year. Manley did not provide many details on the new model, but did say that it will be 4.2-meters (165 inches) long. The Cherokee, by comparison, is 4.6-meters long (181 inches). Furthermore, Edmunds reports that while the new small Jeep will offer diesel power in other markets, there are no plans for an oil-burning version here in the US.
Many other automakers are exploring this smaller crossover segment here in the US. General Motors recently launched the Buick Encore, which is loosely based on the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact's platform. Ford has already launched its Fiesta-based EcoSport in other markets, and has reportedly been pondering the idea of offering it in the US, as well.