Here She Is … 2014 Grand Cherokee

November 26, 2012

A few updates are in store for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and while we’ve told you about them before, we’re now getting our first glimpse at the refreshed SUV without all the heavy camouflage.

Up front, new headlights with LED running lamps flow into a new front fascia design with a smaller seven-slat grille and some curvy bodywork that flows up underneath the headlamp clusters. (With the black tape still covering part of the fascia, can anyone else see a bit of Chrysler 300 in those headlights?) Revisions have been made to the Jeep’s lower front end, as well; and all in, it’s not as aggressive (or handsome) as the current model. Also, we’re not sure how we feel about the flat gray panel that surrounds the grille on the Laredo model, though it’s unclear whether that’s actually a production piece. We’ll hold off making up our minds about the new styling, for certain, until we see the fully baked SUV.

At the back, subtle tweaks have been made to the taillamps (LEDs have been added – surprise, surprise), and the tailgate has been ever-so-slightly redesigned.

The big changes for 2014 lie under the Grand Cherokee’s hood – most notably, the addition of a 3.0-liter diesel V6 for the US market. As we reported earlier, this will be a massaged version of the oil-burning six sold in Europe, and should be good for about 237 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque. The Grand Cherokee will also get a new ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission.

Look for the 2014 Grand Cherokee to officially bow at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Production is estimated to start in the spring of 2013.

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Chrysler Readies Nine-Speed Auto Transmissions to Cut Fuel Consumption

November 23, 2012

Pre-dates Obama and his stupid EPA … It’s been known for decades how to do this, just space out the gears for lower of-the-line grunt, then lower the cruise RPM with overdrive ratios for better fuel economy. The new Mercedes designed Chrysler built 3.6 liter six is the perfect engine for this match-up.

Jeep Grand Cherokee is set for the 8-speed up grade this coming January.

A 16% improvement in fuel efficiency is expected from nine-speed transmission

Automakers are pulling out all the stops and looking to squeeze every single mile per gallon out of their automobiles by any means necessary. Automakers are looking at more fuel-efficient engines with smaller displacements, but they’re also looking at reducing the weight of vehicles and increasing the number of forward gears used in car/truck transmissions.

Adding forward gears to a transmission makes a lot of sense because the slower the engine spins, the less fuel it consumes. In years past automatic transmissions used in vehicles commonly had four or five forward gears. More recent vehicles are moving up to six-speed and in some cases even eight-speed automatic transmissions in luxury vehicles. Chrysler is eyeing even more gears inside with nine-speed gearboxes for more mainstream vehicles.

According to Mircea Gradu, vice president transmission powertrain driveline engineering, Chrysler will roll out its first nine-speed transmission by the first half of 2013. “I’m convinced that, sooner or later, others will come up with similar solutions,” Gradu said in an interview from his office in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where Chrysler is based. “Hopefully, the time will be as long as possible until they catch up with the technology.”

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne believes that the automaker and its various brands will be able to meet looming fuel-efficiency standards by using technology that improves traditional gasoline engines combined with better transmissions rather than moving to plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. CAFE standards will reach 54.5 mpg by 2025.

Michael Omotoso, a powertrain analyst at LMC Automotive, said, “They’re [Chrysler] doing basically the bare minimum to satisfy government regulations. Their strategy is to meet the standards with minimum investment.”

Bloomberg reports that the nine-speed transmission Chrysler is developing could boost fuel economy of certain models by as much as 16%. Chrysler has already scored a 15% boost in the highway fuel economy of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger by adding an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Source: Business Week


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