With work on the 2014 Jeep Cherokee’s innovative and complex 4×4 system still reportedly ongoing, one observer now expects the first Cherokees to be front wheel drive (FWD) models. While perhaps a dent to the car’s credibility in off-road circles, starting with the simpler FWD configuration would simplify production and provide more time to put the 4×4 through its paces.
Jeep has taken pride on the durability of its cars in off-road use, and problems which may not surface during normal “snow, ice, sand, and dirt” running, but could be a problem in more severe tests, are being taken seriously. There have been some reports that engineers are still squashing the last durability issues from pre-production cars — not issues that would be encountered by “ordinary” customers, but items that could affect serious Jeepers. Running FWD cars first would help fill the pipeline and get Cherokee out to customers, while working out bugs in the manufacturing process, in preparation for ramping up with the 4×4 models — just as Dart started out with the 1.4 engines and manual transmissions. The alternative could be pushing back the start of production, which might happen regardless if nine-speed production is slowed.