Jeep Cherokee Problems Keep Vehicles from Dealerships

October 22nd, 2013

2014 Jeep Cherokee

Going from a manual transmission to a car equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) can be a bit jarring. I’ve driven a 5-speed for as long as I can remember, and sitting down in an auto-equipped car sends my senses into no man’s land every time I step on the clutch pedal that isn’t there.

The feeling is amplified when I drive a car with a continuously variable transmission, since my brain is programmed to feel a shift of gears at very precise moments in an engine’s rev cycle. When shifts don’t happen, I get dizzy and confused.

Strange, I suppose, but true.

I use that preface to say Jeep’s delay in releasing the new Cherokee is quite understandable.

Jeep has produced more than 23,000 Cherokees, but none have shipped to dealers. That might seem like a big problem, especially coupled with the fact that Jeep is waiting until it has addressed a powertrain issue on the vehicles to deliver them.

According to Automotive News, that issue is one with the calibration of the vehicle’s new 9-speed automatic transmission, which Jeep wants to be perfect to avoid confusion for drivers coming from 3- or 4-speed transmissions. Rather than shipping directly to dealers, the automaker is storing finished vehicles at a test site while the issue is addressed.

The detour between factory and dealership is part of the unusual validation process Chrysler is using to get its new mid-sized SUV to market. To make sure the powertrain is working right, the automaker has been test driving each Cherokee before it is released for delivery.

How’s that for quality assurance? It would have been easier to release the vehicle, get sales rolling, then issue a recall to satisfy drivers experiencing any problems or bewilderment with the extra cogs. Instead, the company wants to get it right the first time, and I have nothing but admiration for how this situation has been handled.

The extra delay now should make for happier customers later.

Well played, Jeep.

Does Jeep’s delay of the Cherokee make you more or less likely to consider buying one?

-tgriffith

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  1. October 22nd, 2013 at 12:45 | #1

    Autoblog says Cherokees are now on their way to dealers:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2013/10/22/jeep-cherokee-finally-dealer-bound/

    Can’t wait to hear what shoppers think of it!

  2. James
    October 22nd, 2013 at 11:21 | #2

    Randy makes a great point. Spin it to look like great PR, but in reality it’s a production disaster. I’d avoid this car, at least until 2 or 3 model years in.

  3. Randy
    October 22nd, 2013 at 08:08 | #3

    I’m not sure you’re actually making the compliment you think you are making. In the automotive world, a delayed rollout, especially of the brand’s premier vehicle, is a disaster. I’m sure Chrysler is trying to make it look like a customer-centered decision, but likely some heads will roll. Also, I’m not sure why you go out of your way to mention CVT transmissions when the Chrysler 9-speed is anything but.

    Fair warning to potential buyers of this vehicle, though. Savvy American brand buyers know to avoid any new vehicle in the first model year, and I predict this new transmission will be a nightmare to consumers until Chrysler can get the bugs worked out. Using such a complex and expensive band aid to improve the poor mileage of this big vehicle shows how desperate American brands are to keep the heavy iron flowing to gas-addicted, bigfoot Yankee drivers who want their skinny wives cruising around in a 7000 pound behemoth.

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