Alden, Iowa, United States
The Detroit News reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially closed its investigations into 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2004-2005 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey models. The separate probes found no issues that pose safety concerns. NHTSA began investigating certain Grand Cherokee SUVs over complaints that power steering hoses could detach during operation, thereby increasing the risk of a vehicle fire. Of the 24 reports of failure, none alleged smoke or fire in the engine bay, and Chrysler has since modified the power steering cooler assembly to reduce the likelihood of the failure.
Meanwhile, certain Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey vehicles garnered a government probe after receiving complaints that the models were equipped with faulty scissor jacks. The agency had received six reports of the jacks failing or causing injuries, including one incident that resulted in a fatality. But NHTSA says the jack failure rate is similar to those found in other vehicles. In those six cases, the government agency found the jacks were being used for something other than changing a tire, and investigators could not determine whether the emergency brake was set or the rear tires were properly chocked.
Consumer Reports has announced its annual list of worst vehicles, a cringe-inducing contrast to its list of top vehicles. Ignominiously leading the way in 2014 is Chrysler, which has a staggering seven models listed.
Jeep nearly sweeps the small SUV segment by itself, with its Compass, Patriot and 2.4-liter version of the new Cherokee, while the only midsize sedans listed by CR were the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger. The new Dodge Dart and the Dodge Journey round out CR's condemnation of Chrysler.
Ford is taking heat as well, with the Taurus, Edge and their counterparts from Lincoln all listed as the worst vehicles in their respective segments. Toyota doesn't fare much better, with its Lexus IS, Scion iQ and tC also making the list.
I got a text message from Editor-In-Chief Sharon Carty one afternoon proclaiming that her new favorite SUV is our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee. And she's not alone. I'm not sure if anyone else on staff would go so far as to use the "favorite" descriptor, but after just over a month of honeymooning with our new long-termer, it's safe to say that the Jeep is quickly finding its way into the good graces of a number of Autoblog staffers.
There's good reason for all that praise, too. Thus far, the Jeep has proven itself to be incredibly competent and comfortable for daily life - it's functional, quiet, and packed with a host of amenities that make it easy to live with. It's been wholly trouble-free (with less than 4,000 miles on the clock as of this writing, it ought to be), but even nitpicks have been few and far between.