A 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is displayed at Charlie’s Dodge in Maumee. One expert predicts sales of 80,000 to 100,000 Cherokees a year in the United States.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Chrysler said Monday the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee will start at just under $23,000, a price that’s competitive with rivals and a few hundred bucks less than the model it’s replacing.
For $22,995, consumers can get a front-wheel-drive Sport base model with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. The least expensive four-wheel drive Cherokee will start at $24,995. Those prices don’t include a $995 destination charge.
Dave Sullivan, an automotive analyst with AutoPacific, called the Cherokee competitively priced.
Some potential rivals for the Cherokee include the Chevrolet Equinox, the Honda CR-V, and the Ford Escape. At about $23,000, Cherokee starts lower than the Equinox, which has a base price of $24,225. It’s priced slightly higher than the Escape and the CR-V, which start at $22,700 and $22,795 respectively.
The Jeep Liberty, which Chrysler stopped building last summer, started at $23,360 for the 2012 model year.
While Cherokee is not the least-expensive entrant in the crossover SUV class, it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
“There’s a lot of momentum going for the Jeep brand,” Mr. Sullivan said. “It’s not a bargain-basement brand.”
The Cherokee is Chrysler Group’s most important new vehicle this year. Delays have pushed back the start of full-scale production, but Chrysler still says it will have Cherokees in dealerships before the end of the year’s third quarter.
Chrysler will build the Cherokee at its Toledo Assembly Complex, where it invested $500 million ahead of the new vehicle. A second production shift of more than 1,100 new workers will start work later this year.
All Cherokees will get a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The base engine produces 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. An optional 3.2-liter version of Chrysler’s Pentastar V-6 will spin out 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque.
It comes in three trim levels, plus an off-road-ready Trailhawk version. Chrysler said the Latitude will start at $24,495, while the Limited will start at $27,995. Those prices are for the front-wheel drive version; buyers will have to add $2,000 to bump up to a four-wheel drive.
The Trailhawk, which has unique front and rear fascias, skid plates, and an increased ride-height, starts at $29,495.
The vehicle is a major departure from Jeeps of yesteryear, trading a boxy exterior for a sweeping, edgy design. The Cherokee also has a bigger focus on comfort and fuel economy than did the Liberty, bringing the vehicle more in line with the demands of most mainstream buyers.
Company officials said that should give them the chance to reach more buyers, though officials have declined to give sales estimates.
Tom Libby, senior forecasting analyst for Polk, an automotive data and marketing firm, said Monday he expects Chrysler to sell 80,000 to 100,000 Cherokees a year in the United States once production reaches full strength.
That would put it ahead of where U.S. sales of the Liberty have been for the last five years, but below the sales levels Liberty enjoyed when it was a new model in the early 2000s.
Chrysler has said it expects the Cherokee to sell well overseas, and that the vehicle could become the world’s top-selling Jeep model.
Overall, Mr. Libby said Polk is bullish on the Cherokee.
“We think it’s going to be very competitive. It’s got some functionality that makes it really, really competitive,” he said.
The vehicle’s size and its off-road brand heritage make it a little difficult to place in any one segment. Mr. Libby said it will be interesting to see how Chrysler markets the Cherokee, as the company tries to both woo mainstream buyers while hanging on to hardcore Jeep fans.
He said he thinks the Cherokee may compete against some larger rivals such as the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, though he said if Chrysler aims at the CR-V and Escape, it will have a strong case against the two strongly entrenched players.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: email@example.com or 419-724-6134.