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2004 New York Auto Show, Part II


2004 New York Auto Show Index (4/5/04)

Jeep highlights new Grand Cherokee and Liberty spinoffs

In what is the largest exhibit ever created for an Auto Show by Jeep, the division showcased a series of new vehicles at the Greater

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee

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New York International Auto Show at what it calls " Camp New York ." The most notable introduction brought the third generation of the Grand Cherokee, featuring a more refined look, more capable on-road and off-road handling, and the first Jeep to feature a Hemi-powered engine. The 5.7-liter Hemi version puts out 325 horsepower and 370 pound feet of torque. The Hemi package will debut Chrysler’s new "multi-displacement system," a technology that shuts down four cylinders when power demands are light. The system is expected to reduce fuel consumption up to 20 percent, and should resonate with consumers at a time when gasoline prices are roaring towards record levels. Meanwhile, a more fuel-stingy 4.7-liter V-8 also will be available, along with a base 3.7-liter V-6, with 210 horsepower and 235 pound
2005 Jeep Liberty Renegade

2005 Jeep Liberty Renegade

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feet of torque. All three engine variations are mated to a five-speed transmission. A Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo trim level has also been added.

The expansive — and expensive — exhibit at New York’s JacobJavitsCenter was justified, according to Jeep officials because the Northeast is the brand's top market — comprising 19 percent of total sales. The off-road recreation provided a backdrop for the new, 2005 Liberty Renegade, featuring a more rugged design and flatter hood. It rides on 16-inch all-terrain tires. Also unveiled was the 2005 Liberty Diesel, the first-ever mid-size SUV with a diesel engine for sale in the United States. The 2.8-liter diesel has 160 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque, and will have 25-percent better fuel economy than the gasoline Liberty. (Al Vinikour)

Jeep lowers the bar

Right now, all Jeep models need be “Rubicon ready,” a demanding standard that effectively requires every product the Chrysler division offers to be capable of handling the torturous trail in California’s High Sierra. That’s made Jeep the SUV brand of choice for serious off-roaders, but it’s also limited the automaker’s appeal to less demanding customers, since it adds cost and limits such features as seating capacity — there will be no three-row version of the new Grand Cherokee, for example. Now, with plenty of potential buyers shopping elsewhere, Jeep may be ready to lower the bar, at least on some models, according to Joachim Eberhardt, DaimlerChrysler's global sales vice president. "We used to mandate Rubicon capability, but we've added a new dimension," said Eberhardt. Looking ahead, Jeep vehicles will be judged for their ability to surpass the best competitors in a segment, such asToyota's car-based RAV4 “soft-roader.” Said Chrysler’s marketing chief, "That will allow us more flexibility.” It has long been expected Jeep might want to enter that small, low-priced crossover segment, but Eberhardt suggested, "There's room to go up and there's room to go down," he responded. (Martha Hindes)

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