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Diesel Jeep Cherokee could be joined by others

Trail rated: Jeep's most capable off-road Cherokee is the V6 petrol-powered Trailhawk, but a possible diesel variant would share potent 4WD ability, but with gutsy diesel torque and range-extending economy.

Australian customers to decide if Jeep Cherokee gets more diesel variants

16 Oct 2014

JEEP is not ruling out more diesel variants joining the new Cherokee SUV range, including a trail-rated version to sit alongside the V6 petrol Trailhawk and a more affordable mid-range option.

The Limited Diesel is the newest addition to the Cherokee range, which launched in Australia earlier this year, and it sits at the top of the pack priced from $49,000 before on-road costs, but with positive consumer feedback more oil-burning options could be on the way.

Diesel versions are currently available with four-wheel drive and top-spec Limited equipment only, but future variants could offer the 135kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel combined with Jeep's go-anywhere Trailhawk off-road kit or a lesser two-wheel drive configuration.

Speaking at the launch of the new Cherokee Limited Diesel, Fiat Chrysler Group Australia director of corporate communications Karla Leach told GoAuto the range has the potential to grow and initial responses to the diesel engine had included questions about a hardcore trail-rated version.

“I think never say never,” she said. “At the moment the diesel engine is not available with the four-wheel drive system that's in the Trailhawk, but you're not the first person who has given us that feedback.

“As a product, Cherokee is supported in the States, they understand that it's a vehicle that can really show some growth in markets around the world so the opportunity to increase volume is definitely there.

“Because of the nature of the product and that it was built from the ground up – all new – we'll take the market's current behaviour as the best indication as to how we think it will happen, but it's really a matter of launching it and seeing what the feedback is.”

While it might be the most expensive option in the Cherokee range, Ms Leach said customers would be attracted to the new variant's near 2.4-tonne towing capacity and range-leading fuel economy of 5.8 litres per 100km.

“We have to take how the market is behaving as the best indication, but because the Cherokee has been out of our line-up for nearly two years, by the time we reintroduced it in June, we are probably targeting and attracting new customers.

“The overall packaging of the Limited with the interior refinement and the diesel towing capacity will be attractive to people towing boats and doing lots of weekend recreational activities, but also the fuel economy is something quite attractive so it could be a really great everyday drive for a lot of people.

“At the moment the line-up will continue this way, but again, with a new vehicle it's about evaluating how the market is behaving, looking where the demand is and getting Australia's feedback at the table when there's future development for the Cherokee.”

With Jeep's continuing process of analysing consumer feedback, future variants could also offer a less expensive diesel option that would attract customers wanting the economy and towing capacity with less comfort features and a corresponding reduction in price.

Speaking at the same event, Fiat Chrysler sales and marketing analyst Callum Maynes said that diesel-powered vehicles traditionally target a more cashed-up customer, but other elements could be a factor.

“What we see is that diesel demand is at the higher end of the market... is it a function of what the manufacturers supply or is it a function of what the market is demanding? I'd say its probably a bit of both,” said Mr Maynes.

The current Cherokee line-up kicks-off with a 2.4-litre 2WD sport priced from $33,500, three 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 variants sit mid-range from $39,000 to $47,500 and the Diesel caps off the range.

The addition of a diesel engine to the Limited variant bumps the price by $5000 so a compression-ignition Trailhawk would likely be priced at a similar premium over the petrol version, taking the price up to about $52,500.

Adding the same cost to entry-level 2WD Sport versions would speculatively price a diesel version at about $38,500.

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