While we’re seeing a steady increase in the number of diesel models coming to the U.S. market from Europe, no domestic maker has been showing more interest in the high-mileage technology than Chrysler which has already launched “oil-burners” for both its Ram 1500 pickup and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.
And at the Geneva Motor Show a little more than a month from now, Chrysler will add another diesel, in this case a version of the new Cherokee ute. Unfortunately for American aficionados, however, the package will be limited to the European market – though it leaves open the question of whether a U.S. Cherokee Diesel might yet be in the works to replace the old Liberty model.
With but a few minor tweaks to reflect the requirements of European regulators, the Jeep Cherokee Diesel will be all but identical to the American gas-powered model that finally reached showrooms here after an unexpected delay. The big difference will be found under the hood.
Actually, Jeep plans to offer two different diesel package, starting with its new 2.0-liter Multijet II engine which will make 170 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It will be paired with the same 9-speed automatic offered in the States with the Cherokee gas engine. The package also will feature new Stop/Start technology that can automatically shut down the engine while idling and then fire it back up when the driver’s foot lifts off the brake.
(Strong demand for new Jeep Cherokee helps Chrysler buck industry’s downward January sales slide. Click Here for the full story.)
The second diesel is a low-power version of the Multijet making 140 horsepower and paired to a 6-speed manual. It will also be equipped with Stop/Start.
European buyers will also have the option of choosing the 272 horsepower 3.2-liter V-6 Pentastar gas engine sold in the U.S., torque rated at 232 lb-ft. For the Russian and Middle East markets, the Cherokee will be available with the smaller 2.4-liter Tigershark inline-four.
The European Jeep Cherokee will be offered in both front and all-wheel-drive configurations, and for serious off-roaders, the maker will have the “trail-rated” Trailhawk package. There will be three different all-wheel-drive systems available, as well.
The decision to launch the Cherokee in Europe with two diesels comes as little surprise considering that the high-mileage technology can now be found in about half of all new vehicles sold in that market.
Whether Jeep will eventually bring a diesel to the U.S. market remains to be seen. Part of the challenge is that the higher cost for bringing the Multijet II into compliance with American emissions standards could push the cost beyond what American Cherokee buyers can justify – especially considering the current high price tag for U.S. low-sulfur diesel fuel.
The Jeep Cherokee has been scoring a solid hit since its late launch last autumn, and Jeep is looking to it as part of the foundation of its global expansion program. The maker delivered another sales record in 2013, global demand nearing 732,000 – though Jeep is pushing to reach the million mark in the next few years.
(For more on Jeep’s ambitious global sales targets, Click Here.)
A long-sought return to the Chinese market will certainly help, and Chrysler is continuing to negotiate a deal that will let it build Jeeps in the booming Asian nation – a move that would improve competitiveness by eliminating hefty import tariffs.
But another critical step is the expansion of the Jeep line-up. And the maker is expected to target one of the world’s fastest-growing vehicle niches when it pulls the covers off a second new model at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
While company officials are mum, Jeep will launch a new compact crossover/utility vehicle that some have dubbed the “Baby Jeep,” though others expect it might adopt the name Jeepster, a nameplate first used by the brand more than 60 years ago.
(For more on the Baby Jeep, Click Here.)