Published on Mar 19, 2013
Coming soom from Jeep: the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee, the most capable mid-size SUV. Learn more next week at the New York Auto Show.
SOURCEFor the upcoming 2014 Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler pushed its engineers, designers and suppliers to new performance levels, said Mark Sheldon, who oversees cockpit design for Chrysler, during an April 17 discussion on lightweighting interiors at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2013 World Congress in Detroit.
“Weight reduction must be part of designing a vehicle from the very beginning,” Sheldon said.
After creating the Dart, Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler used reverse engineering to take a second look at the upgraded interior and determine how it could have reduced weight without impacting the overall design.
It considered ways to consolidate parts to reduce overall weight, and questioned where to fine-tune structural requirements. The same beam is used to support the steering column and the instrument panel infrastructure, Sheldon noted, but many of the parts hung from that beam do not need the same level of support. Heating and air conditioning ducts do not have the same structural requirements as a steering wheel, for one example.
The development team used lessons learned from both the original Dart development and the engineering study to determine ways to shave weight from the interior of the Cherokee without sacrificing the overall style, he said.
Working with Sabic Innovative Plastics, Chrysler and the material supplier went through 60 different mold-flow studies before selecting the perfect glass-filled polypropylene for an instrument panel substrate that is only 2 millimeters thick, according to Sheldon.
The company is also considering options such as microcellular foaming and alternative structural materials, although Sheldon noted ultralightweight composites such as carbon fiber are not yet ready for full-scale production.
It will also be important to increase development between every step of the supply chain, he and other interior specialists said. Automakers have renewed their emphasis on in-house design, rather than outsourcing some decisions to suppliers. That move allows the companies to put greater emphasis on styling choices while leveraging weight-saving options across multiple vehicle lines, said Tim Boundy, global interior innovation manager for Detroit-based General Motors Co.
Automakers also can make alterations to the frame or chassis that suppliers cannot, as long as the teams are working together at an early stage. Boundy noted one case where a seat maker found a potential weight savings of more than 10 pounds — but that company was brought in too late to make those changes without also altering the placement and shape of the fuel tank.
Suppliers, meanwhile, can have more knowledge of individual parts, manufacturing improvements or material selection, making it possible to bring to the industry high-volume production using techniques such as in-line compounding, Sheldon said.
As the North American auto industry moves closer to a goal of improving fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, carmakers will be taking a wider view of all of their mass-reduction options.
“We’re going to have to pick and choose which places will get the most funding and development in terms of weight reduction,” Sheldon said.
SOURCEThe 2014 Jeep Cherokee is manufactured at the Toledo North assembly plant and replaces the Liberty. The automaker relies on this model to boost sales and revenue, after profit during the first quarter fell 65% mainly due to the Jeep Liberty elimination. Building the Cherokee is more complex compared to other vehicles, as the model is based on an underbody adapted from Fiat and is the first Chrysler model to be fitted with a nine-speed transmission developed with ZF Group, a German supplier.
“With sales planned for September, this gives them roughly three months to work out issues. The Jeep customer is astute and (Chrysler) needs to make this a grand slam,” said Dave Sullivan, an automotive analyst with AutoPacific.
Until now the Toledo plant has been building pilot versions of the Jeep Cherokee, which will not reach dealerships. Beginning next week the automaker will manufacture 200 Cherokees which will be used for media test drives and regulatory testing.
- See more at: Official 2014 Jeep Cherokee Fuel Economy Figures Announced by the EPA | Torque NewsThe most efficient drivetrain configuration for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee is the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine mated to the new 9-speed automatic transmission and front wheel drive layout. This setup affords the new Jeep to hit 31 miles per gallon on the highway, 22 miles per gallon in the city and 25mpg combined while delivering 184 horsepower and 171lb-ft of torque. That same engine and transmission with the advanced all wheel drive system offers 21mpg around town, 28 on the open road and 24 combined. With 31 miles per gallon for the front wheel drive models and 28mpg for the all wheel drive packages, the 2014 Cherokee is the most efficient option in the current Jeep lineup.
Should buyers opt for the more powerful 3.2L Pentastar V6 engine in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, they will benefit from 271 horsepower and 239lb-ft of torque. When fitted to the same 9-speed automatic transmission as it used with the 2.4L engine, the 2014 Cherokee V6 models with front wheel drive are able to hit 19 miles per gallon in the city, 28mpg on the highway and 22 combined while the V6 Cherokee with all wheel drive will return 19 in the city, 27 on the highway and the same 22 miles per gallon combined.
So the 2014 Jeep Cherokee is the most efficient option in the current Jeep lineup but how does it stack up to the rest of the midsized SUV segment?
Well, in terms of front wheel drive highway mileage, the top performers are the Chevrolet Equinox with the 2.4L engine, the Ford Escape with the 1.6L EcoBoost and the Mazda CX-5 with the 2.0L Skyactiv engine – all of which offer 32 miles per gallon so they offer a slight advantage over the 2014 Cherokee 4-cylinder models. Around town, the Mazda CX-5 has a huge advantage with a measure of 26mpg followed by the Toyota RAV4 at 24mpg in front wheel drive form. When you look at the all wheel drive crossovers, the Subaru Forester is the most efficient option with 32mpg on the highway and 24mpg around town. Based on the 4-cylinder comparisons, the new Cherokee isn’t the most efficient vehicle in the class – but it is towards the upper end of the spectrum in both front and all wheel drive form.
Fuel economy aside, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee is among the most popular models in the segment with 184 horsepower and 171lb-ft of torque. The Chevrolet Equinox offers 3 more horsepower and 1 more pound of torque, the Honda CR-V offers 1 more horsepower but less torque and the vastly less efficient Volkswagen Tiguan offers a bunch more horsepower and torque (200hp, 207tq).
While the 2014 Jeep Cherokee sits towards the top of the list in both fuel economy and power, the fact that it isn’t tops in any category (especially fuel economy) could hurt sales in the early going. The Cherokee shook things up with the unusual/unique front end styling and with delays on production and the balmy fuel economy figures, things are going as smoothly as the Chrysler Group had hoped surrounding the launch of the new SUV. Fortunately, the SUV market is much more than just being the most efficient and with so many loyal Jeep buyers always helping to make the brand so popular, these numbers may not have much impact on the funky midsized SUV when it hits dealerships later this month.