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Auto blogTue, 29 Oct 2013 13:58:00 EST
Hey, Jeep fans. If you think the idea of a funky-looking, car-based Cherokee revival is offensive, have a listen to what might be in store for the next-gen Jeep Wrangler. Automotive News is reporting that as Jeep develops the 2016 Wrangler, weight reduction is a crucial target, and the Wrangler's rugged solid axles could be sacrificed in the name of better fuel economy.
We've already heard the next Wrangler will go on a serious diet using aluminum body panels and an air suspension system, so the idea of a four-wheel independent suspension setup for this OG SUV isn't all that surprising. Besides, it's not like an independent suspension would limit the Wrangler's off-road abilities - just check out the Hummer H1. In fact, it might be the aftermarket parts companies - not Wrangler enthusiasts - who would be most disappointed by such a drastic suspension change, as the article states that the Wrangler's solid axles and coil-link suspension make it the most popular SUV for customization.
There are probably still a couple years before we'll start hearing any concrete details about the 2016 Wrangler, at which time it will be interesting to see how stricter fuel economy and crash safety regulations have been balanced with traditional Wrangler cues like its removable doors and roof and folding windshield. Let us know in the comments below if a Wrangler sans solid axles is any less of a Wrangler.
Jeep has been shuttling around Alfa Romeo-based test mules and camouflaged prototypes of its replacement for the current Liberty for some time now. Those heavily disguised vehicles may have offered a glimpse of the new Jeep, but a new set of production-line images from Jalopnik tell a much more complete story.
Jalopnik report indicates unequivocally that the Cherokee name will be re-upped in place of Liberty, though it doesn't spell out exactly where that thinking comes from, though a name change has been rumored for some time. Chances are good that the same source that delivered these factory images delivered the name, as well.
The Cherokee absolutely has some Alfa Romeo DNA in its makeup, the final product is far from looking like its Guilietta ancestor. The athletic, high-waisted design is relatively attractive from what we can see here, though the grille and headlight treatment are sure to cause a lot of ruckus when the Cherokee makes its official debut at the New York Auto Show in April. The very narrow, pointed headlamps are pinched in a not particularly Jeep-ish fashion, and the curved, short version of the seven-slot grille is far more rakish than anything that Jeep has produced to date.
Production and media drive delays included, there has been no lack of press surrounding the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. With the most recent delay reportedly due to powertrain calibrations, we've been waiting to see how the Cherokee's fuel economy looks against the highly competitive compact CUV segment. Thanks to the EPA, we now know the fuel economy figures for the newest member of the Jeep family.
Arguably, the Cherokee has the most modern powertrain in its class with an updated base engine, all-new V6 and all-new nine-speed automatic transmission, but its fuel economy figures are simply on par for the segment. Still nothing to scoff at, though. According to fueleconomy.gov, front-wheel-drive Cherokee models with the base four-cylinder mill will top out the lineup with 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway; opting for four-wheel drive with this engine drops the figures to 21 city and 28 highway. Get even crazier with the option list, and the new 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 will get you 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway in two-wheel-drive form or 19 city and 27 highway for 4WD.
If you're wondering how that stacks up among compact CUVs, head on over to Automobile Magazine for a full fuel economy breakdown for the segment. The controversially styled crossover hits dealers this month, and we'll be driving it in just a couple of weeks.