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Jeep Expands Alternative Fuel Offerings

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All DCX 4.7L V6s Go Flex-Fuel for 2007
For the 2007 model year, the 4.7L V8 offered in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander gets flex-fuel treatment, making these SUVs able to run on gasoline or E85. The engine is also used in the Durango and Ram, though Dodge had already offered flex-fuel-capable powertrains. While GM and Ford offer several V8 engines in either the flex-ready or the gasoline-only variations, DaimlerChrysler will simply equip all 4.7L V8s with the appropriate modifications for the capability.
Jeep Adds Diesel Grand Cherokee for 2007
Perhaps making a bigger splash is the announcement that the Grand Cherokee gets a diesel for the States with the 2007 model year. The Grand Cherokee had already been available with in international markets with the diesel, though this will be the first for the U.S. version. The Commander is offered in Europe with the same diesel engine, so if the Grand Cherokee diesel sells well, a Commander diesel for the States seems only a matter of time.

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The diesel is a 3.0L DOHC 24v V6 common-rail injection turbo-diesel built by Mercedes-Benz, delivering 215HP for this market. It will be available in Laredo, Limited, and Overland trim levels. Look for a five-speed automatic transmission, as the diesel gets in Europe and other Grand Cherokees are equipped with.
Jeep expects the CRD to get 19 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. By comparison, the V6-equipped Grand Cherokee’s EPA ratings are for 17/22 mpg, the 4.7L V8 for 15/20 mpg, and the 5.7L HEMI V8 for 15/20 mpg. The diesel’s 215HP betters the V6’s 210HP but not the 4.7L’s 235HP, though its increased torque should provide for better acceleration and it is rated for more towing. Though VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents haven’t driven the diesel yet, it should give a more substantial feeling to off-the-line acceleration than either the 4.7L V8 or the V6 and satisfy the needs of most drivers, especially those needing to tow anywhere near the diesel’s 7400-pound capacity.
Will Going Diesel Save Money?
Diesel engines can offer better fuel economy than gasoline engines, and Jeep claiming a 30 percent improvement in the Grand Cherokee. But in the current environment, some regions have seen diesel prices running higher than or about the same as premium unleaded gasoline, which the standard gasoline-fed Jeep engines don’t even need. Regular 87 octane is the requirement for the V6 and 4.7L V8, though 89 octane is recommended for the 5.7 V8. Statistics from the Energy Information Administration put the national average for regular unleaded at $2.86 per gallon, and diesel at $2.88 (as of May 29, 2006).
Diesel engines generally get better fuel economy, but the cost savings may be offset by higher cost of the fuel. Diesel engines can be a solid choice, but it is not a slam dunk that going diesel will ease your pain at the pump.
First Modern Diesel Jeep Was Liberty
U.S. Jeep dealers began offering a diesel-powered Liberty for the 2005 model year and have sold 11,000 CRD Libertys through the end of May 2006. Of course, in all of 2005, Jeep sold more than 166,000 of the mid-size SUV. While the response to diesel has been solid and has satisfied DaimlerChrysler’s expectations, it remains a small percentage of the mix.
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Jeep Patriot Complements Jeep's Range

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Small Trail-Rated SUV Joins Jeep Lineup in Fall
New York’s Jacob Javits convention center is the backdrop for Jeep’s introduction of a second all-new, additive vehicle for the 2007 model year, as the Patriot is unveiled at the 2006 New York auto show. Come fall 2006, Jeep showrooms will be home to six vehicles, two more than in 2005 and the most in the brand’s history. The Patriot and Compass are additive vehicles for this year and are the first Jeep products derived from a car platform. Compass, introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in January, goes on sale this summer. Though the show is still a couple of days away, AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents have been watching the development of the Patriot, and here are our first impressions.

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As Jeep was developing its first car-based SUV, the company evaluated two proposals with different personalities and decided to go for both. The Patriot’s job is to meet the demands of entry-level Jeep enthusiasts and intenders and give them a less-expensive way to put the legendary brand in their driveway, while the Compass is supposed to bring in more conquest buyers at an early point in their purchasing lives. Pricing for Patriot will be lower than Wrangler and likely similar to Compass, we expect. The Compass launches with a price range from just under $16,000 to just under $22,000, including destination. The top Patriot adds more off-road ability than the Compass, so this model may top out at a higher price point than Compass. Patriot is going for owners from their early 20s to early 40s. Jeep sees Patriot buyers as “confident, independent, rugged individuals who like the outdoors.” Presumably, Compass buyers are just as confident and independent, though perhaps less rugged or interested in the outdoors.
In the expansion of the Jeep brand, one can see the atomization of the market itself; buyers can find just the right SUV to meet their needs. Need a rugged off-roader? Take Wrangler. Need more space than Patriot or Compass and nicer on-road manners than Wrangler? Take Liberty. Need a mid-size, premium SUV? Take Grand Cherokee. Need seats for three more? Take Commander. You can even get a performance-oriented SUV in the Grand Cherokee SRT-8. Now, if you want a cheap Jeep, you can choose between urban style with the ability to handle inclement weather with ease or a traditional package with off-road ability. We’ll find out later this year if the strategy works better at the lower end of the market than it is at the upper end, as Jeep seems to be currently building more Commanders than they can easily sell.


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Jeep Wrangler Reborn for 2007MY

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Jeep let its latest Wrangler out of its cage at 2006 North American International Autoshow. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents watched the story unfold.
The iconic Wrangler gets a major change for the 2007MY. Sales are set for fall 2006, and the two-door Wrangler broke free at the 2006 North American International Auto Show, drove straight out of Cobo and onto the a Jeep stand across the street, demonstrating both the vehicle’s need to be unrestrained and its ability to climb stairs and inclines with ease. Though not introduced in Detroit, a four-door version is expected as well as the two-door.
The latest Wrangler is described as more Jeep. Though Wrangler enthusiasts are a tricky group to please, as they don’t really want their beloved friends to change, Jeep likely has a winner with upcoming version. It offers more safety and convenience and a better ride, while at the same time improving off-road ability and retaining it’s signature look.


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Automotive Lease Guide Releases Residual Value Awards

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Automotive Lease Guide is an influential and closely watched barometer of the value of brands and vehicles in the USA. ALG’s data are used by leasing companies to set the values for vehicles two and three years in the future and are critical in determining what lease rates a lessee will pay.
While ALG’s Residual Value Awards are not of the ilk of Motor Trend, Automobile, Car & Driver enthusiast awards, they provide an interesting counterpoint to awards based test track measurements, zero to 60 times and seat of the pants opinions. Here is the text of the ALG release…

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ALG’s annual Residual Value Awards honor those vehicles in each automotive segment predicted to retain the highest percentage of their original price. For the third consecutive year, American Honda Motor Company, Inc. heads the list with the Honda Brand winning the Industry Brand Residual Value Award. Honda also received two individual segment awards: the Odyssey for the Minivan Segment and the Accord for the Midsize Car Segment. This is the fifth consecutive win for the Honda Odyssey and the second win for the Accord.
Acura, a division of American Honda Motor Company, Inc., is the winner of the Near Luxury Car Segment for the TL.
BMW of North America, LLC has once again made a strong showing by winning the Luxury Brand Residual Value Award for the third consecutive year. MINI USA, a division of BMW of North America, has won the Compact Car Segment for the MINI Cooper for the fourth time.
Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. took home the most Residual Value Awards this year by winning six individual segment awards: the Avalon for the Fullsize Car Segment, Tacoma Pick-up for the Compact Truck Segment, Tundra for the Fullsize Truck Segment, RAV4 for the Compact SUV Segment, 4Runner for the Midsize SUV Segment, and the Sequoia for the Fullsize SUV Segment. This is the fifth consecutive win for the Toyota Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia; and the third consecutive win for the 4Runner.
Mercedes-Benz USA LLC is the winner of this year’s Luxury Car Segment award for the CLS Class.
The Sports Car Segment award this year goes to Porsche Cars North America, Inc. for the 911 Carrera.
And last but not least, the CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) award goes to Land Rover North America, Inc. for the Range Rover Sport.
“In an era of negative pricing and overcapacity, Residual Value excellence is increasingly difficult to achieve,” said Raj Sundaram, President of Automotive Lease Guide. “Both the segment and brand winners clearly demonstrate that quality products combined with effective pricing strategies will rise to the top.” Sundaram added that, “While the top rankings did not change, several brands have shown significant improvement over last year, highlighting the importance manufacturers are placing on residual value as a long-term objective.”
This year’s awards are based on 2006 model year vehicles. For the fourth year, ALG has also included awards for the brand with the highest predicted resale value of all industry and luxury vehicles. The awards are derived after careful study of segment competition, historical vehicle performance and
industry trends. Award winners are featured on http://www.alg.com, The Wall Street Journal, Automotive News, and other automotive publications and websites dedicated to bringing the industry’s best performing models into the
public eye.


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Easy Drive: Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

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Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to drive the Ford Explorer, Jeep Commander, Mercury Mountaineer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee, for varying amounts of time. The Explorer and Commander experiences were shorter press preview drives, on routes chosen by the manufacturers to best showcase their vehicles. On the other hand, the Mountaineer and Grand Cherokee were in our office for about a week and I had the chance to drive them both in my normal daily environment for a couple of days.
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Did Anybody At Chrysler Ever Think About This?

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By the middle of 2007, Chrysler-Jeep showrooms will be populated by a befuddling number of quite traditional and Post-Modern SUVs (The Scribe refuses to use that vile “crosso___” term). While currently Chrysler-Jeep dealers have only the Wrangler, Liberty, Grand Cherokee and recently added Commander to worry about, their portfolio of SUVs will nearly double over the next eighteen months or so.


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