DETROIT – The updated Jeep Cherokee is trading on its square side for a more conventional look.
"We kept that design, but we've softened it," said Mike Manley, who leads the Jeep brand for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. "I think our customers will really appreciate it." We had many comments saying that the first Cherokee was a bit polarized by design, and frankly that was by intention. "
Jeep officials have said they needed to be flashy, if not totally unusual, design with the previous Cherokee to restore the brand in one of the most competitive segments of the automotive industry.
LOOK: Blade reporter Tyrel Linkhorn ends the second day at the International Motor Show of America North
It worked, with Cherokee sales peaking at 220,260 in 2015. But in the last two years sales have declined significantly as competitors received updates and the Cherokee design grew old. Last year, Jeep sold 169,882 Cherokees.
With the new model, Jeep hopes to rekindle that spark.
<! – ->  The new Cherokee Jeep features an updated front fascia, along with a redesigned rear liftgate, a wider rear cargo area and some minor interior trim.
THE BLADE / TYREL LINKHORN
Buy this image
In addition to the new front fascia, which incorporates headlights similar to those of its smaller Compass and larger Grand Cherokee brothers, the new vehicle has a lighter and redesigned rear tailgate that moves the license plate to a more centered position, a slightly wider rear cargo area, and some minor adjustments inside.
The vehicle also receives, in particular, the new fourth generation UConnect system from FCA.
"Technology is really important, we know each other obviously because of our off-road capability, but now I think we are increasingly aware that we have very, very silent cabins, a great dynamic on the road and there is nothing practical that we lack in our vehicles, "Mr. Manley said.
Both the 3.2-liter V-6 engine and the current 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine of the current Cherokee remain, although Fiat Chrysler is adding a third engine option in a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower. strength and 295 pound-feet of torque. That makes the 2.0-liter, which represents the premium engine, the most powerful of the three.
With the V-6, the Cherokee offers a towing capacity of 4,500 pounds.
Mr. Manley said it was important to offer a range of engines to present different things to different buyers.
"If you're towing, obviously, the V-6 power I talked about is really important, fuel economy is still important, hence our new 2-liter engine, but we like to be accessible to many people. That's why we keep the 2.4, "said Mr. Manley.
As in the current Cherokee, all engines will be coupled to the FCA nine-speed automatic transmission.
The Cherokee was originally built in the northern section of the Toledo Assembly Complex, but FCA moved production to its Belvidere, Illinois, plant last summer as a piece of a large puzzle to realign its production footprint in North America.
The relocation of the Toledo Cherokee also allowed FCA to redesign part of the Toledo Assembly Complex for the next generation Wrangler while continuing the overall output of the outgoing model.
In the five-year production in Toledo, Jeep workers built 949,151 Cherokees.
The price for the new Cherokee has not been announced.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at email@example.com, 419-724-6134, or on Twitter @TyrelLinkhorn .