The first Jeep-branded product to be created by the Fiat-Chrysler alliance will be launched at the New York motor show in March, replacing the Liberty with an all-new model that could revive the Cherokee name. In Europe it will rival the Land Rover Freelander, the Honda CR-V and Nissan’s X-Trail.
Seen here undergoing final testing, the new car is based on a version of Fiat’s Compact Wide platform, which underpins the US-market Dodge Dart. The platform is capable of taking four-wheel drive, V6 engines and diesels, all of which will be available in the new Jeep. The petrol V6, which is unlikely to make it to European markets, will be a 3.2-litre version of Chrysler’s 3.6-litre unit.
It will also be the first Fiat-Chrysler vehicle to get a new nine-speed automatic gearbox. This transmission is said by CEO Sergio Marchionne to be “the future of the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive world of Chrysler”.
The new Jeep’s styling will use the fresh front end seen on the just-facelifted Grand Cherokee, with narrow headlights and a slimmer interpretation of Jeep’s traditional seven-bar grille. Both features are visible beneath the test car’s disguise.
The new Jeep will initially be built at Chrysler’s plant in Toledo, Ohio, from 23 May. Production will begin in China next year as part of Fiat’s deal with Guangzhou Automotive.