Even though Jeep already has the range-topping Trailhawk version of its new Cherokee, there could be a differently-minded performance variant coming.
Plans for an SRT version of the Cherokee might not currently exist, but Cherokee lead designer Greg Howell told Motoring that they will try and see if the business case makes sense. “And if we can make money on it – it’s gotta make money not just break even – we’ll go for it.”
But doing that might not be a simple proposition. The 6.4-liter V8 found in the Grand Cherokee SRT8 won’t fit, and Howell said a higher-performing Cherokee would still be limited by tightening emissions regulations. Instead, a turbocharged four-cylinder unit would be the best candidate.
Jeep needs to focus on successfully launching the current Cherokees before any sort of cheaper alternative to the Grand Cherokee SRT8 could be considered. Production of the Cherokee halted a week ago because of quality concerns. The assembly line is moving again, but Chrysler’s primary concern is probably with ensuring smooth delivery moving forward.
If Jeep does decide to build such a product, it would offer direct competition to the Subaru Forester XT. The Japanese compact crossover uses a turbocharged version of the 2.0-liter boxer engine found in the BRZ mated to a continuously-variable transmission.