Detroit 2013 Hits and Misses – Phil Floraday

HITS 

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee – The return of a diesel engine to the Grand Cherokee is huge. The Pentastar V-6 is pretty nice, but I love the idea of a turbo-diesel engine in a vehicle that will be a daily driver and see occasional towing duties. EcoDiesel models will essentially pull as well as a Hemi, but consume less fuel than a Pentastar. Jeep’s projected 15% take rate for the diesel seems low to me. A quick interior and exterior refresh also help the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee remain competitive in the design department.

Lincoln MKC Concept – I was surprised by how good the MKC looked on the show stand. I’ve never been a fan of Lincoln’s current design language, but the MKC looks rather handsome in person. Details on the MKC are rather light at this point, but it should enter production within a year or so and it will likely come to market with a 2.0-liter I-4 EcoBoost engine. As much as I’d like to see a halo car for the brand, Lincoln dealers will be mighty happy to have the MKC in their showrooms because the small premium crossover segment is booming.

MISSES

GM trucks – I’ve been complaining about GM’s new trucks since they were unveiled in December. That’s also the last time I heard about these “new” trucks. You’d be forgiven for forgetting they were announced at all given the lack of attention they received on the show floor. What blows my mind is Ford revealing more detailed specifications for the Atlas concept truck than GM has given us on these production trucks. I own an older Silverado and have no significant complaints about it, but I don’t see much more innovation in these 2014 models than my 2000. That’s a bad sign for your most profitable vehicle.

2014 Jeep Compass/Patriot – Can we just kill these twins off, already? Jeep has two superb products in the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee and then you get to the two ugly ducklings known as Compass and Patriot. Yes, they are cheap and offer decent fuel economy plus a normal automatic transmission, but the Wrangler is now so refined you could comfortably drive it every day and actually venture off-road. I applaud Jeep’s effort to keep even dying products fresh, but it’s time for the Alfa-based replacements to arrive. This platform just needs to go away.

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