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Automotive

Wrangler slated to get new package with Altitude

Limited-edition styling to go on 4th Jeep model

CHRYSLER-GROUP-LLC-2012-JEEP-WRANGLER-UNLIMITED-ALTITUDE

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude.

CHRYSLER GROUP LLC Enlarge

Already cruising this year, the Jeep Wrangler will soon reach Altitude.

Jeep parent Chrysler Group LLC announced Monday that the Toledo-made Wrangler would become the fourth model in the Jeep lineup to get the special, limited-edition Altitude package.

The 2012 Wrangler Unlimited Altitude will feature red stitching on a black leather interior, body-color roof and bumper inserts, and black trim and accents throughout. Production is limited to 4,500 models.

Jeep first showed off a menacing, blacked-out design concept of its top-selling Grand Cherokee in January at the Houston Auto Show, inviting fans of the brand to suggest names for the package.

Officials ultimately selected three finalists and put them up to an online vote. Altitude won, and in late March the automaker said it would expand the package to Compass and Patriot.

Chrysler spokesman Patrick Hespen said Jeep decided to add Wrangler to the mix after seeing the interest in the other models. Jeep has made several limited-edition Wranglers in recent years, including two others for the 2012 model year.

"This model year alone we've had the Call of Duty and Arctic," Mr. Hespen said. "They've been hot. We put them out there, people love them and buy them up right away."

Manufacturer's suggested retail price for the Unlimited Altitude is $33,740. A base Unlimited starts at $25,545, and the top-end Call of Duty Modern Warfare edition has a base price of $40,455.

Jeep hasn't said whether it intends to make the package available on the Toledo-built Liberty.

The four Altitude editions are expected to hit showrooms in May. Chrysler will base the dealer allocation on sales and current level of dealer inventory.

Jeep officials say the special editions generate buzz and also play to Jeep's large group of enthusiasts.

"One of the many things Jeep enthusiasts love is the series of limited-volume, special-edition Wrangler models we produce," Jeep brand chief executive officer Mike Manley said in a statement. "The new Wrangler Unlimited Altitude builds on the previous models and delivers consumers yet another fun and distinctive Jeep vehicle straight from the factory."

Through March, U.S. buyers had snapped up 29,772 Wranglers, a 30 percent increase over the first quarter in 2011 and a 55 percent increase from the first quarter of 2010.

Canadian sales of the Wrangler were 3,663 through March, up 56 percent from last year.

Autoworkers in Toledo built 51,104 Wranglers through March, up about 15 percent from the year before. In January, union officials said a plan was in place that would add 25 employees to each 10-hour shift by June, an effort that would boost production by five vehicles an hour.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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