Adamsville, Alabama, United States
Details remain scarce, but our spy photographers have managed to capture the upcoming Jeep B-segment crossover for the first time, testing in both the Alps and in the US. Shown here as a cobbled-together Fiat 500L mule, the new Jeep model is expected to arrive for the 2015 model year and act as a replacement for the current Compass and Patriot models.
According to our shooter, the new "baby Jeep" will share a platform with the Fiat 500X, and both models will be built on the same assembly line in Turin, Italy. We can't tell much from these images, but the added length apparent on this 500L mule would seem to dispel the recent speculation that the new entry-level Jeep model would be sized closer to the Ford Fiesta - since the 500L is already considerably larger than the Fiesta. Powertrain options will likely mirror other Fiat/Chrysler collaborative vehicles like the Dodge Dart, but this Jeep will also try to live up to its off-road roots with an optional all-wheel-drive system.
In our First Drive article on the 2014 Jeep Cherokee we said, "our informal and thoroughly unscientific opinion is they're going to sell tons of them. Why? Because it is very good." So far, it appears the public concurs. Of course, it's very early - the new compact utility has logged just one month of confirmed sales, but Larry Vellequette at Automotive News says dealers have told him that the second month of sales will be even better, a message that mirrors what we've heard from company execs.
In its first, severely truncated month on sale, the Cherokee sold 579 units. With all of November to play with, though, dealers moved 10,169 of them - compared to 11,753 Wranglers and 14,798 Grand Cherokees. That helped propel Jeep to a 30-percent year-on-year improvement for the month, Chrysler Group to a 16-percent improvement and the group's 44th consecutive month of sales growth, exceeding analyst expectations in posting its best November numbers since 2007.
If it can just keep replicating the its first month of sales, the finalist in North American Truck of the Year voting will smoke the trade done by the outgoing Liberty, which didn't break 7,900 units in a month in the last four years of its life (and normally didn't get close to even that). In March this year, Chrysler said it wants to build 250,000 Cherokees in its Toledo assembly plant for global sales. It's early yet, but with second-month sales quoted as being as "strong as death," the bookies might be resetting the odds.
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: