Alden, Iowa, United States
Unless the governor, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, gives them a reprieve, the 2014 Jeep Compass and Patriot are expected to meet their makers sometime next year. Should they perish, it's a shame that it would happen just as they've shed the continuously variable transmission that was their major bugbear, and just as the Compass has gotten its best looks yet.
Both will roll with a proper six-speed automatic transmission, courtesy of PowerTech. Noise-resistant gears and tuning by Chrysler boffins should alleviate the unappealing sounds that were given off by the older CVT. Unless, that is, you choose to have either model equipped with Freedom Drive II; the serious off-road package, available on both baby Jeeps, will still come with the CVT. The base transmission on the entry-level Sport trim remains the five-speed manual.
Otherwise, it's minor changes for the Compass, set off by the new 18-inch wheel option, trim pieces around the car and a back-up camera. The Patriot gets seat-mounted airbags, but is carryover otherwise. With their expected demises perhaps a year away, not much has changed otherwise. Engine choices comprise the 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 158 horsepower and 141 pound-feet of torque or the 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 172 hp and 165 lb-ft.
Love it or hate it, the 2014 Cherokee is on its way to a Jeep showroom near you this fall. Today, Chrysler announced the different trim levels, features and pricing for its new compact utility with a starting price of $22,995 (*not including $995 for destination), which is $400 less than the 2012 Liberty it ostensibly replaces.
Available in four trim levels - Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk - the new Cherokee will come standard with Chrysler's 2.4-liter Tigershark inline four-cylinder engine with the upper three levels offering the option of the company's 3.2-liter Pentastar V6. The base Sport is your typical entry-level model, featuring equipment including manual cloth seats and black exterior mirrors and door handles, but it also has a five-inch Uconnect media center, LED taillights and 10 standard airbags. Stepping up from the Sport model, Latitude and Limited trims bring increasing levels of luxury starting at $24,495 and $27,995, respectively. All three of these trims are front-wheel drive in standard configuration and offer varying versions of Jeep's Active Drive four-wheel-drive system.
The range-topping $29,495 Cherokee Trailhawk (shown above) comes standard with four-wheel drive and numerous upgrades to earn Jeep's Trail Rated fender badge. These changes include a unique design that adds an off-road suspension with taller ride height giving more aggressive approach and departure angles, underbody skid plates, distinguishing exterior design elements and a seven-inch, reconfigurable instrument gauge cluster similar to what it found in high-trim Dodge Dart models. Scroll down for a full breakdown of the 2014 Cherokee pricing and trim levels, and let us know what you think of the model's pricing and equipment in Comments.
Behind the vanguard of numerous Jeep models, two Chryslers, a smattering of Fiats and Alfa Romeos and local production through a joint venture with Guangzhou Automotive Group (GAG), Fiat Chrysler wants to increase sales in China more than six-fold by 2018. The group sold 130,000 cars in China in 2013, the aim for 2018 being 850,000 cars.
Ultimately it's expected that the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, Wrangler, Renegade, the coming Grand Wagoneer and a sub-Renegade-sized crossover will either be built in or exported to the People's Republic. The Chrysler Town & Country and 300 will join the export list in 2016 and 2018 respectively, according to a report in Automotive News.
With a number of those vehicles not in production or perhaps even envisaged yet, and others not due on the local market until 2018, it will be interesting to see how Fiat Chrysler plans to achieve the target in the specified timeframe. The joint venture with GAG builds two products now, the Dodge Dart-based Fiat Viaggio launched two years ago - supposedly designed just for China - and the just-launched Fiat Ottimo, a hatchback version of the Viaggio. Fiat projected 300,000 Viagio sales in its first two years, that number has been adjusted downward to 94,000 and there doesn't appear to be an analyst alive that sees a good future for Fiat in China's overrun mainstream market. Still, last year's 130,000 group sales in China is a huge jump from 2012 sales of 66,000 units, but less than half the 300,000 units it projected.