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New York show: Jeep polarises with new Cherokee

New look: The new Cherokee gets a unique take on Jeep’s signature seven-slot grille, and has a lower overall profile than the boxier current model.

Bold new face for Jeep as first shots of new-generation Cherokee surface

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Jeep logo25 Feb 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

JEEP has revitalised its iconic Cherokee with a bold and polarising new generation revealed last night ahead of a world debut at the New York motor show in March.

The American off-road vehicle company released a quartet of images after a series of shots from the factory line in Toledo, Ohio, leaked on to the internet.

Featuring radical front-end styling – for a Jeep, at least – the latest version of the company’s mid-size SUV staple will hit Australian shores by the end of this year, when it will replace the current model already in run-out.

Already dividing opinions on social media and Jeep message boards across the globe, the new Cherokee cops a unique take on Jeep’s familiar seven-slot grille, which is affixed entirely to the bulging bonnet and bisected by a prominent horizontal crease.

The grille is flanked by a pair of headlight units, with slimline LED and indicator clusters on top and chunky rectangular main beams below, complemented by a large lower air vent and foglights.

The side profile is given new-found dynamism by a slowly raking windowline and squared-off wheelarches.

While dimensions have not yet been provided, the new version appears to have a noticeably lower roofline than the tall and boxy previous model.

Jeep has not revealed mechanical details, but promises the new “no-compromise” model will offer “best-in-class capability”, “exemplary” on-road dynamics and fuel economy improvements of up to 45 per cent.

American reports suggest the new Cherokee could controversially lose the current rear-drive-oriented layout and move to a front-drive platform shared with owner Fiat, but with an all-wheel-drive option to give it off-road credibility.

Cherokee’s prime powertrain is expected to be a new 3.2-litre version of Chrysler’s V6 Pentastar engine mated with a groundbreaking nine-speed automatic transmission.

A diesel is likely for export markets including Australia.

Interior images and tail shots of the vehicle have also been held back until the full reveal in the Big Apple.

The new model will also return the famous Cherokee badge to North America, with Jeep in the US having instead used the ‘Liberty’ moniker on the previous version.

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