Designers say Cherokee has hidden messages - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Designers say Cherokee has hidden messages

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The Jeep Cherokee made its worldwide debut at the New York Auto Show last week. Teams are now working inside the Toledo plant to get the assembly lines ready for full production of the new mid-size SUV.

Designers are quick to point out that there's a lot of the old in the new SUV. They say the Cherokee is really a great mix of history and the latest technology. You may be surprised by some of the interesting tributes to Jeep's rich Toledo history. In fact one of the Jeep ads calls the Cherokee,"history in the re-making."

As you may know, this is round two for the Cherokee nameplate here in Toledo. It was the end of the road for the first Cherokee in 2001 when the Liberty came on line. Jeep CEO Mike Manley is hoping to repeat the success of the original model,"The new Cherokee is packed with technology. It has incredible powertrain technology, a fuel efficient engine and a 9 speed transmission. There are 70 safety features including front end collision warn and park assist. It also has a great interior. It is the perfect vehicle to bring the name back. We are hoping it can do as well if not better than the previous one, which had sales of 2.5 million."

Mark Allen is the head of Jeep design. He says the modern styling of the new SUV includes tributes to Jeep's storied past, "A lot of people ask me why the grill is bent. Well, the original Cherokee had a bent grill. In fact it's been on a lot of Jeeps, like the TJ, YJ,SJ and XJ. It's been there on a lot of models, but it's always been subtle, now we amped it up."

Greg Howell designed the new Cherokee. He brought his original sketches from January 2010 to the New York Auto Show. Howell says unlike it's competitors, the Cherokee is built to take you around town and off the beaten path, "It's efficient and elegant, but very tough underneath. When you crawl under it you see the skid plates and all the good stuff for off-roading."

Manley says there's been a lot of good feedback on the interior, which includes a customizable display screen and what's called a U connect system with blue tooth and navigation, "This has a great interior. We've used some of the best materials and with the workmanship we get in Toledo, the fit and finish is not in question."

Allen points out there's even a little bit of Wrangler in the new Cherokee, "We've got a glass sunroof option, a small sunroof option and a sky slider and that speaks to Jeep. You feel like you are out in the elements, you can open up your vehicle and that is all derived from Wrangler, in fact there's a lot of Wrangler in everything we do."

Crews have been building test Cherokees inside the Toledo Assembly Complex for the last few months as they get ready for full production to start up in late May. The Cherokee will be on dealer lots in mid to late Summer.

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