Posts Tagged ‘2011 jeep grand cherokee’

Jeep Balancing Off-Road Chops and Fuel Stops

SUV brand helps set course for resurgent Chrysler.

by on Feb.15, 2011

Jeep aims to pull the rest of Chrysler uphill.

As pundits write endlessly about the resurgence of Chrysler, they talk mostly about the influx of new product at the company’s Dodge and Chrysler brands. But the troubled U.S. maker’s turnaround will also rely on its off-road brand, Jeep.

Despite being the first one of the Chrysler/Fiat’s five brands to launch a major new product as the company plotted its post-bankruptcy strategy, Jeep has been almost an afterthought. Just don’t tell that to Mike Manley, the president and CEO of the brand.

If you do, you’ll be reminded that Jeep Grand Cherokee — redesigned for 2011 and launched last summer — was the first Chrysler product to be launched as part of the new product offensive. And it was good enough to land on the finalist list for North American Truck of the Year.

Manley also will remind you that the compact Compass SUV was recently refreshed and is now trail-rated, and that other Jeep models have been significantly updated in one way or the other, mostly with updated interiors.

“We were the first brand to make news this year,” Manley said. “We’ve got some very good space now.”


First Drive: 2011 Ford Explorer


by on Dec.13, 2010

The 2011 Ford Explorer aims to throw sand in the face of its competition.

Few products have dominated the market like the original Ford Explorer.  It was the poster child for the light truck boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s, as millions of Americans traded in their sedans, coupes, wagons — and later, their minivans — for sport-utility vehicles and pickups.

At its peak, the Explorer was racking up sales of as much as 445,000 a year, making it a single nameplate franchise bigger than brands like Subaru, Mazda and virtually every one of the German marques.  But for Ford, the good times couldn’t last.  And whether it was due to the Firestone/Explorer rollover debacle or simply shifting trends – as crossovers began to overtake classic SUVs – Explorer sales took a sharp tumble soon after the start of the new millennium.

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Through the end of November, Ford has sold just 51,000 copies of the outgoing Explorer.  But the maker is far from ready to write the old workhorse off.  Anything but.  The 2011 model is getting ready to roll into showrooms and it justifies the term “all-new” better than most launches we’ve seen in recent years.  It also offers the possibility that a new generation of buyers may soon discover the Explorer name – while past owners will be drawn to the showroom to check out what is arguably the best offering in its segment.


2011 Ford Explorer To Hit 25 MPG

EPA numbers show a 25% increase in mileage.

by on Dec.07, 2010

Bigger but lighter, the new Ford Explorer will get 25 mpg on the highway, according to new EPA testing.

The all-new Ford Explorer will get 25% better mileage than the outgoing SUV, according to new data released by the EPA, which oversees federal mileage testing.

Having switched from a truck-based platform to a car-like crossover design, the 2011 Explorer will get 17 miles per gallon in the city, 25 on the highway, with a combined rating of 20 mpg.  The old model got 14/20 in front-drive configuration, 13/19 with an all-wheel-drive powertrain.

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Fuel economy concerns were among the most significant of the “past reasons for turning away” from the Explorer and other SUVs, noted Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global director of vehicle development.

With its new 3.5-liter V6 powertrain replacing the old Explorer’s 4.6-liter V8, Ford will be able to claim segment leadership on fuel economy.  While the 2011 Toyota 4Runner matches Explorer in-town, it gets only 23 mpg on the highway.  The all-new, 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee also got an EPA rating of 23 highway, but just 16 in the city.

“Today’s customers want no trade-offs, which is why we focused on fuel economy leadership,” product development vice president Frank Davis said at an Explorer preview, this week.


Chrysler May Build SUVs for Alfa-Romeo or Maserati

Maker continues integrating U.S. and Italian brands.

by on Nov.09, 2010

New versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee could be developed for Maserati or Alfa-Romeo, says Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Chrysler could wind up building a special sport utility vehicle for Maserati, using a Ferrari powertrain on the basic architecture of the latest-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was itself completely redesigned for 2011.

Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler’s chief executive officer, threw open the doors to the possibility Chrysler could build a Maserati model during a conference call with reporters and analysts to discuss the U.S. maker’s third-quarter earnings report.  A Jeep-based Alfa-Romeo model was also offered up as a concept under consideration.

Chrysler lost $84 million in the third quarter and is paying steep interest costs but the numbers are otherwise moving in the right direction, Marchionne said, as he raised the guidance on the company’s operating profit for the full year. (For more on Chrysler earnings, Click Here.)

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Marchionne said the company also has to get serious about launching an initial public offering of stock, following cross-town rival General Motors, which expects to return to public trading later this month.

Such a move would likely come next year, said Marchionne, “Probably not in the first half of the year but definitely in the second half.”


Chrysler Might Finally Be Awakening From Long Slumber

Automaker has a raft of new products ready to hit showrooms.

by on Nov.08, 2010

The 2011 Dodge Avenger is restyled and has new engines and a recalibrated suspension.

For the last four years, there didn’t seem to be much happening on Planet Chrysler. There was a dearth of new product and the ones that it did introduce were largely panned as poorly designed, engineered and styled.

In that time, three masters ruled the company – Daimler, Cerberus and now Fiat – all with their own thoughts on how to run the company.

And in the middle of the whole charade, the automaker came very close to shutting down altogether before the government stepped in, pumped it full of cash and arranged the shotgun marriage with Fiat.

Even though there hasn’t seem to be much outward appearance to show for it, the folks in Auburn Hills were busy. Busy as elves in Santa’s workshop getting ready for Christmas, as it turns out.

Even better than feverishly working to bring these new products to market, it would appear that the stuff might actually be good. So far, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been getting rave reviews. Some of the other vehicles show that the automaker has finally come out of its styling funk.

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And now it would appear the smallest of the Detroit Three automakers is ready to reap the benefits of all that work. Chrysler has so much product that has recently hit the street or will go on sale in the coming months that it would be hard to keep track of it all without a scorecard.

And that’s just the first wave. Next will come the new cars that are based on Fiat DNA, engines using Fiat technology.

Here’s a quick look at some of the products that have recently been introduced or will be available in Chrysler showrooms in the coming months.

First Look: Dodge Shows Durango Pictures

Three-row sport ute is based on Jeep Grand Cherokee platform.

by on Sep.02, 2010

The 2011 Dodge Durango features a sculpted new shape with a grille similar to the Dodge Ram pickup truck.

The Durango returns to the Dodge lineup for 2011, but this time as a mid-size unibody rather than as a full-size body-on-frame truck.

Following up teaser images that were released last month, Dodge is now showing images of the whole vehicle.

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And there’s a little surprise in the pictures, as well: The Durango sports Dodge’s new logo. With the creation of the Ram line of trucks, the Dodge loses the Ram in its familiar logo.

The Durango, which is based on the same platform as the recently introduced 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, will have three rows to seat up to seven people. The Grand Cherokee is two rows only.

First Look: 2011 Ford Explorer

Can once-dominant SUV regain lead in today’s crowded market?

by on Jul.26, 2010

A new day for Ford's once best-selling Explorer?

You normally don’t expect to see Ford CEO Alan Mulally wandering through New York’s crowded Herald Square in the middle of a Monday morning.  But this isn’t your typical weekday, not as far as Ford is concerned.  The automaker’s chief executive is in the Big Apple for the launch of the latest, all-new version of the Ford Explorer.

Once the best-selling sport-utility vehicle in the world, Explorer is today just a shadow of its former self, at least from a sales standpoint, so the unusual preview – which bypasses the normal auto show circuit in a bid to maximize exposure from media-central Manhattan – is a critical step in Ford’s effort to rebuild demand.

“This is the reinvention of the most popular SUV in the world,” Mulally declared during an appearance on CNBC this morning.  At least what was the top-selling SUV.

The original Explorer was one of the first to target the emerging market for light trucks, when it came to market two decades ago.  But today, U.S. buying patterns have shifted once again, and sales of traditional truck-based sport-utility vehicles have fallen sharply, millions of buyers instead opting for lighter, more nimble and fuel-efficient crossover vehicles.

With the 2011 Explorer, Ford becomes the latest maker to shift from a body-on-frame to car-based platform – a strategy used by Mercedes-Benz, among others, with the latest-generation M-Class ute.  But the Detroit maker is walking a marketing tightrope.  At today’s launch and in the marketing blitz to follow, Ford will continue to play up the 2011 Explorer’s go-anywhere capabilities while also emphasizing its more crossover-like attributes – notably its more nimble ride and handling and a projected 30% improvement in fuel economy.

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“It’s a vehicle completely redefined,” says Ford’s global product development director, Derrick Kuzak., with the goal of the redesign and shift to a CUV platform to address “past reasons for turning away” from both the SUV segment and Explorer, in particular.


Chrysler Puts the “Help Wanted” Sign Out

Maker boosting production, speeding up product development.

by on Jun.09, 2010

Chrysler has already announced plans to boost employment by nearly 2,700 so far this year.

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Even before Chrysler and its former partner, Daimler, split up their ill-fated marriage, the U.S. maker began a massive downsizing that only accelerated when Chrysler plunged into bankruptcy, last year.

But, suddenly, the Help Wanted signs are going out in front of the maker’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  And not only is Chrysler bulking up at the plants it predicts will boost sales, but it is also bringing in workers to help speed up its product development system.

Just since the beginning of the year, the maker has announced plans to add nearly 2,700 blue and white-collar employees, notes the Detroit Free Press, and the pace is expected to increase in the months to come.  While many of Chrysler’s new hirings will be done on a temporary or contract basis, the maker also appears to be looking for a number of full-time employees.


Chrysler Readying 7-Passenger Dodge SUV

Dodge ute will share platform with 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

by on May.21, 2010

A 7-passenger Dodge will share the '11 Grand Cherokee's platform -- but with a unique body.

Chrysler chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne confirmed the automaker plans to build a 7-seat Dodge sport utility vehicle off the same platform developed for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In a conversation after the official launch of the Grand Cherokee at Chrysler’s Jefferson Assembly Plant in Detroit, on Friday, Marchionne said the Jefferson plant would be ready to start building the Dodge SUV by the end of the year.  The CEO, who also runs Chrysler’s Italian partner, Fiat, specified that the Dodge vehicle will have a very different body than the 2011 Grand Cherokee now rolling off the assembly line.

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“Grand Cherokee is a signature vehicle for Chrysler,” stressed Marchionne, who also announced that Chrysler will be adding a second shift at the Jefferson assembly plant in mid-July. It will hire 1,100 workers to man that additional shift.

(Click Here for more on the $700 million remake of Jefferson North.)


First Look: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Automaker releases first official images of all-new SUV.

by on May.19, 2010

A month ahead of its official debut, Jeep releases the first official shots of the 2011 Grand Cherokee.

Long-troubled Chrysler is offering us the first official look at the most important new product to be coming down its pipeline this year, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

One of only a handful of all-new or significantly-updated products planned for the coming year, the ’11 Jeep will have to convince the legions of skeptics and naysayers that there really was a good reason to bail out the automaker last year.

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While it will likely take several years to prove out that argument, one way or the other, the new look for the 2011 Grand Cherokee is winning early fans.  The updated Jeep shows that Jeep – and the rest of the Chrysler brands – will be moving rapidly away from the awkwardly boxy look of models like the old Grand Cherokee, as well as the current-generation Chrysler minivans.