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Auto blogTue, 15 Jan 2013 17:07:00 EST
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.
In the market for a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Dodge Durango? Well, if you fancy a more expressive color for your new SUV, you'd better get your order in, or plan on waiting until well into 2015.
The SUVs will be limited to just four monochromatic shades - black, white, silver and gray - until at least February, thanks to an upgrade to the paint shop at the two vehicles' Jefferson North factory. For the Grand Cherokee, that means it's losing more than half its color palette while the Durango is dropping two-thirds of its color catalog.
The loss of colors is inconvenient, but the upgrade will have a slightly bigger effect on the overall supply of SUVs, as Chrysler will need to end its relentless build pace at the factory for a three-week shutdown starting on December 22. The good news for fans of the SUVs is that once the work is completed, we should see a gradual expansion of the color palettes for both the Durango and Grand Cherokee, beyond even what's offered now.
Consumer Reports has just rendered its verdict on two of the more important cars to launch this year - the Mazda3 and the Jeep Cherokee. Considering the value a "Recommended" rating carries with the public and the viciously competitive markets these two cars compete in, Consumer Reports' view could have some impact on their initial success.
For Mazda, that's a good thing. CR spoke quite highly of the Zoom-Zoom brand's compact sedan and hatch, testing both models, and citing the excellent fuel economy and snickety-snack manual shifter as high points. Downsides to the 3 included a ride that is agile but "nervous," a bit too much noise and a cramped back seat. Still, the 3 was good enough to earn its place in the ranks of the "Recommended."
The Jeep didn't fare quite so well, with CR calling the polarizing CUV "half-baked." Although both engines were tested, the magazine called the 2.4-liter four-pot underpowered and its nine-speed automatic unrefined and unresponsive. That's particularly damning, considering the 9AT's role in future Chrysler products, including the extremely important 200. Overall, the Cherokee missed out on the coveted "Recommended" rating.