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Top Five Missing Mopars

by David Zatz on

It’s 2013, and Chrysler had been “reborn” for four years under Fiat rule. The entire lineup has been polished and revisited — in some cases, more than once. Yet, something — perhaps four things — seem to be missing.

Join with us to look at five missing Mopars, one at a time — or see them all at once.

The 2013 Jeep XJ2 Classic

In March, we talked about a new SUV using the 1984-2011 Cherokee’s coil-link suspension, using a new body (like that of the 2014 Cherokee) with the cheaper and more off-road-friendly XJ-style suspension.

Heritage XJ2

The Jeep Cherokee was light but sturdy, with class-leading ground clearance and a seemingly-contradictory low load floor, thanks to its unique link/coil setup. The new vehicle would bring that back, while keeping modern innovations such as the 2014 Cherokee’s clever four wheel drive systems.

’97 Cherokee ’14 Trailhawk
Approach angle 38° 29.9°
Breakover angle 24° 22.9°
Departure angle 32° 32.2°
Running clearance 10.2” 8.7”

Hard-core Jeepers want a true XJ replacement, with superlative clearance from all angles (that doesn’t disappear when you hit a bump), and a reasonable price — starting at under $30,000. Safety, modern on-road competition, and gas mileage all rule out the ancient XJ blueprints. A modern XJ, holding to current safety standards, would be around 10% larger outside (for the same interior space), and weigh around 4,200 pounds, one engineer estimated — no problem for the Pentastar V6 hooked up to an eight or nine speed automatic.

The cost would be at least $3 billion, but it could be an international seller that would boost Jeep’s credibility. Creating it could cost less if it used, say, the current Cherokee as a base; that would also ease production, since it could most likely be made in Sterling Heights.

This particular effort from JackRatchett is titled the Jeep Heritage XJ; the wheels are further apart to help approach angles, the ground clearance is the same as the XJ, the hood has a slight double slope for better visibility, the front corners are dropped and angled toward the wheels, and the body
retains the box shape because that’s what you need for maximum cargo. [See the full story or click the “continue” link below.]

The PT Cruiser

The PT Cruiser was a surprisingly popular car, despite comments from Daimler insiders that “it’s just a fad.” Constant cost-slashing, though, brought the PT go from being a premium, desirable car to rental fodder in the end. The car had to fight stylists who hated retro, wanting to move relentlessly forward; Mercedes loyalists who disliked its Chrysler origins; managers who resented the way its popularity defied their projections and objections; and those who wanted the last remnant of Plymouth (it was to have been the second car in a Plymouth revival, after Prowler) to be abolished.  In the end, the cost cutters were probably the most damaging parties.

2014 PT Cruiser

The basics of the PT were still sound: a responsive if not especially fast base engine; a more powerful engine option; well thought out usability; a lower ride height than most crossovers and SUVs, but higher than a normal car; and a flexible interior, all with unique styling inside and out.

There is no shortage of vehicles to base a replacement on, but the Jeep Cherokee likely provides the best canvas. Jettison the four wheel drive options; restyle the body, inside and out; lower the ride height; and perhaps use different suspension options to save money and space, exploring the revised Watts rear suspension (which save space and money). Chrysler might just get regain a highly competitive niche car, adding 60,000 – 80,000 easy domestic sales per year with no need for rebates and incentives.

See the other three (and a bonus car)

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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