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The 2014 Jeep Cherokee is now officially the most fuel-efficient Jeep ever offered in the United States.
The front-wheel-drive Cherokee with Chrysler Group LLC’s 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine returned 31 miles per gallon on the highway in testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
That matches what company officials predicted when they unveiled the new Toledo-built model in New York earlier this year.
“I think everybody’s very happy. We met what we expected we would be able to do with the vehicle,” company spokesman Kathy Graham said Thursday.
The EPA has now made public all Cherokee ratings, with the exception of the off-road-oriented Trailhawk model. Chrysler said EPA testing isn’t expected to be finished on that model until sometime next week.
Jeep is trying to broaden its customer base with the Cherokee, and delivering better fuel economy is a significant part of doing it. The Cherokee is far more efficient than the Liberty, which went out of production in mid-2012. In two-wheel drive trim, the 2012 Liberty was rated at 22 mpg highway.
The Cherokee has several advantages over its predecessor in the efficiency department.
One glance at the two vehicles side by side is enough to see the Cherokee is vastly more aerodynamic than the squared-off Liberty. It also benefits from the option of a smaller engine.
The most recent Liberty was available only with a 3.7-liter six-cylinder that wasn't particularly efficient or powerful. Cherokee comes standard with an inline four-cylinder, with the option of a new 3.2-liter V-6. Cherokee also makes use of a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The Liberty came only with a four-speed automatic.
The EPA said the four-wheel drive Cherokee with the four-cylinder returned 28 mpg highway. The V-6 Cherokee is rated at 28 mpg highway in front-wheel drive trim and 27 mpg highway in four-wheel drive trim.
In the EPA city cycle, the four-cylinder Cherokee returned 22 mpg when equipped with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg when equipped with four-wheel drive. The V-6 Cherokee was rated at 19 mpg city for both front-wheel and four-wheel drive.
The company said Wednesday that it expects the Cherokee to begin arriving in dealerships later this month. As of Thursday, Chrysler hadn’t yet started shipping any Cherokees to dealerships.
At up to 31 miles per gallon, the Cherokee barely tops the smaller Patriot and Compass models to be the most efficient Jeep sold in the United States.
The upcoming 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel is also projected to return 30 mpg highway.
More importantly, Jeep has put itself in the same league as its top segment rivals, including the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Chevrolet Equinox.
The EPA rates both the base-trim, front-wheel-drive Escape and Equinox at 32 mpg highway, and the CR-V at 31 mpg highway.
The Cherokee gets a combined city-highway rating of 25 mpg, compared with 26 mpg for the other three vehicles.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6134.