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Linked? Durango, Charger, Wagoneer…

by David Zatz on

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has long expressed his desire to slash the number of Fiat and Chrysler platforms, emulating Volkswagen’s “back to the future” move of putting just about everything onto a single platform.


Mr. Marchionne has allowed major exceptions; the combination of an over-ambitious plan and a grip on reality delayed the Jeep Renegade and some other cars, because the architectures were not right for Jeep and, one can guess, Chrysler minivans.

Let’s look at what insiders are telling us now, keeping in mind this is all hearsay and/or speculation, and may not be accurate. There are a lot of stories floating around, likely reflecting numerous plans that are or were being tested or just thought about. 

1. The WK3 seriesGrand Cherokee, Wagoneer, and probably Durango — may be based on a car platform, most likely a Maserati adaptation of the L-series cars — 300, Charger, Challenger.

Many suspension changes would be required to make Jeeps out of either one —but there are many suspension differences between today’s Durango and Grand Cherokee, or the 500X and Renegade. Both the D-RWD cars and the new Jeeps are being developed now, and clearance and articulation could be engineered in from the start.

The investor projection chart shows a new Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer, so WK3 won’t be a minor modification of WK2.

2. The next Town & Country and a full sized crossover, which we’ll call Pacifica so you get the idea, are reportedly being based on the CUSW platform used for Cherokee, 200, and Dart.

3. And then there’s Dodge Journey. It’s quite popular outside the U.S., and is not entirely without buyers in the U.S., either. However, it is not a muscle car by any stretch of the imagination, missing the niche Dodge is aiming for. Journey could be turned into a “real Dodge” by making it a crossover based on D-RWD — the upcoming Dodge/Alfa Romeo midsized rear wheel drive series.

A midsized Chrysler crossover for the masses could be created by modifying the Jeep Cherokee’s styling and suspension. If I were king of Chrysler, the first thing I would do after selling that would be to eliminate all front wheel drive Jeep Cherokees. I don’t see a low-ground-clearance two-wheel-drive Jeep as being an asset to the brand; it’s there to create  sales and use the factory, but a Chrysler (and, for export, Fiat) twin would end that need. Want AWD? Get the Jeep. Want FWD and maybe some extra storage freed up by not having a driveshaft? Get the Chrysler.

Now, for a new question: how and where would they build all these vehicles, especially the Durango? We’ll tell you tomorrow.

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