2014 Jeep Cherokee
For more than a decade, Jeep fans have awaited the return of the long-lost Cherokee. Earlier this year, it seemed like they'd soon get their wish: Chrysler unveiled the 2014 Jeep Cherokee in March at the 2013 New York Auto Show, promising that the all-new crossover would arrive in showrooms in July.
But it didn't. Then, it didn't again. And according to Detroit News, it's just been delayed a third time.
The first round of delays stemmed from problems with the Cherokee's fit and finish. A second centered around the vehicle's nine-speed transmission, which is new to the Chrysler lineup.
The third delay seems linked to lingering transmission issues. According to Jeep workers, around 1,000 vehicles still suffer from such problems.
As a result, Chrysler has slowed the assembly lines, cutting a full production shift and temporarily laying off around 500 employees while it addresses the backlog of vehicles that need to be repaired. Meanwhile, other employees have been given the keys to Jeep Cherokees and told to conduct lengthy test drives.
Chrysler hasn't revealed many official details about the slowdown, but the automaker hopes to return the Cherokee to full production in about two weeks.
We know that new vehicles are tricky, whether they're completely new models or just heavily redesigned. There's a lot of new equipment under the hood, a lot of new ways for things to go wrong. Remember the redesigned 2013 Ford Escape? It was the subject of four recalls before the end of 2012.
We also understand that Chrysler has a lot riding on the Cherokee. Not only is it a beloved nameplate among Jeep fans, but as a moderately priced, midsized crossover, it's unique in Jeep's lineup. There's nothing quite like it in Jeep showrooms.
In other words, Chrysler has to get it right. And not just so-so right: the Cherokee has to be a homerun. Chrysler has been working hard to roll out new products since its reorganization four years ago, and it's had to overcome plenty of public skepticism over quality issues. To release a half-baked product would be a huge setback for the automaker.
So honestly, we're okay with a few month's delay. Though dealerships are anxious to start selling the Cherokee, the ounce of preventive work that Jeep's doing now far outweighs the pound of headaches the company would endure with a dodgy Cherokee roaming the streets.