While Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne was at the North American International Auto Show last week he managed to find some time to confirm that the Ram brand is currently re-engineering a new midsized truck to continue on the recently discontinued Dakota’s name plate. In recent years the midsized truck has seen its sales be cannibalized by the full size truck market and for good reason.
As the truck wars continue the level of upscale features found in today’s full size truck have increased 10 fold. Long gone are the days that you could choose between leatherette and vinyl or tweed seat covering with the options list have such tough choices like including a tape deck or power windows. A top of the line truck from either of the Detroit 3 comes with as many technology and luxury features as their high end luxury cars. The trickledown effect of these cowboy Cadillac’s would have to be that the entry price of a full size truck has dramatically dropped or more importantly stayed at the same price point since the mid 90’s.
A well equipped full size truck minus all of the glitz and glamour on the inside will cost you a couple thousand dollars more than a mid-sized truck while offering its owner’s way more interior space and thus greater practicality. The end result of this trend has been that the full size truck market has become also the mid-size market and brands like the Dakota, Ranger/B2000, Colorado/Canyon and Tacoma have not seen a model refresh in years or have been quietly discontinued.
Chrysler with the Ram brand is now looking to re-invent the midsized truck market with a new type of vehicle. Sergio Marchionne has stated that the next-generation of the Old Dodge Dakota will have little in common with its forebears. It was reported that there is a 50 percent chance that the truck will feature a unibody frame design which may be borrowed from the Chryslers current minivan.
The new Dakota will most likely get the 3.0-liter V6 CRD turbo diesel that is used to power the Grand Cherokee CRD model. In the Jeep it is offered in two different flavors which are an entry diesel will feature 190hp and 325 lb-ft to torque with the top of the line diesel offering 241hp and 406lb-ft of torque.
Between the oil-burning mill and the lightweight (for a pickup) unibody construction, the new Dakota could be one of the most fuel-efficient pickups on the market. We have been saying for years that this is the one advantage that a mid size truck should have over its full size bigger brother however to date there hasn’t been a manufacture brave enough to try this new formula.
The next Ram Dakota could be the first one to try to put this theory into practice. They still have a couple kinks to worked out first like what other smaller displacement engines could also be used to complement the Common Rail Diesel. They have the high horse power 3.6-liter V6 that could be used and we love the idea of having a turbo I4 for fuel economy, a powerful V6 for towing and the diesel option to provide drivers the best of both worlds.
In the non-shocking news department we are happy to confirm a rumor that we helped start back in mid April of last year. The story was finally confirmed last week so we thought that we should also follow up on our original story to let our reader know that the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee will have a Diesel power plant included in its list of options.
As we reported 9 months ago it will be the same 3.0-liter V6 CRD turbo diesel that is used to power the Grand Cherokee CRD model over in Europe. We can update our original story by reporting that there will be two variations of the engine sold here in North America that will boil down to how the engine is tuned. The entry diesel will feature 190hp and 325 lb-ft to torque with the top of the line diesel offering 241hp and 406lb-ft of torque.
2013 Grand Cherokee CRD - Rear 3/4
We were disappointed to read that the new diesel engine option will be paired only with the outdated 5-speed automatic transmission that was invented during the time of the dinosaurs in the land of the Intrepid and LHS. The only reasons that we could think of Jeep still using this old tranny would be because it can handle the all of the extra torque produced by the diesel engine. However we ruled this out because the 5.7-liter V8 HEMI is dialed up to 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque which is only 16 lb-ft behind the top ranking diesel and it will stop using that transmission any day now. So then we thought maybe that is the only transmission sold in Europe and they will be building these CRD Jeeps there and shipping them back home. However this isn’t true either as Chrysler has also announced that they will be adding 1100 jobs to their plant that builds the Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.
2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee - In its native environment, the woods
So come on Chrysler let the cat out of the bag and let us know why you’re not offering your ne 8-speed ZF transmission with this very capable engine. Fuel economy for the Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine is rated at 10.3 L/100 km (22.8 mpg) while driving in the city and 7.2 L/100 km (32.7 mpg) on the highway. However we wonder if they could be increased by 2-3 mpg for both city and highway driving with the extra 3 gear ratios especially the tall cursing 8th gear for use on the highway.
Chrysler has yet to reveal the pricing of the new 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD, however if you are interested the last time they offered a diesel version they tacked on a premium price tag by adding a step price premium on the engine option. As a result it was not a huge sales hit, when we think it should be. We hope that with Fiats guidance the CRD model will become a more affordable option as we can’t wait to drive one!
2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD - Trail Climbing
To read the Cherokee CRD news article from 9 months ago click here “2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee will get a New Diesel”
I have been standing up on the Diesel soap box for so long that I’m starting to get dizzy. In North American with our highway based society I have always thought diesel engines made sense. A hybrid has never been the right solution for maximize highway fuel mileage like it does in the start stop city driving arena. With that being said you can imagine my disappointment to find out that there were only a handful of manufactures who bother going through the North American engine certification process to bring their European Diesels overseas.
Needless to say I was thrilled back in 2005 when Jeep used to Mercedes sourced diesels in the Liberty and Grand Cherokee to create a unique niche SUV segment. However when Daimler split I figured that would be the end of diesel powered Jeeps in North America.
No so according to Fiat Auto CEO Sergio Marchionne as yesterday he announced that the 2013 Grand Cherokee will be getting a 3.0-liter CRD engine with Multijet 2 management. This engine will be built by the Italian company VM Motori and will be based off of specifications set by Fiat’s Powertrain department. It has been rumored that the new mill will get 19% better fuel economy while still outputting 237 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. So you’re looking to tow your boat or camping trailer, the 3.0-liter will simply rev and laugh at anything that is under 3,500 kilograms or 7,700 pounds.
Let’s hope that other manufactures will soon follow suit as it is getting cold and windy out here on this soap box and I’m looking to go home. Well done Jeep thanks for listening, I can’t wait to take it out on my next multi-province road trip.
3.0-liter CRD Engine
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee - Side 3/4 view
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee - Front Overhead view