SRT Prowler Project: Plymouth with 6.1 Hemi V8 Engine

I have been a proud Plymouth Prowler owner for over ten years. I absolutely love the car’s style, the thumbs-up, and overall design. To this day there isn’t another car that I see that looks so good and is so unique. Being just a weekend car, I have always wanted to keep the thrill of good looks with the power to match and its the only thing that has fell short to me over time.

Every article says it should have had a V8, but it’s still the best.

I added gears, intake, headers and still always wanted a bit more. After that started drag racing for fun; everyone loved the ride but always fell short on third and fourth gear — but still fun. The biggest moment was a dyno day in Florida, everyone was excited about the Prowler, but even with all my mods, it only scored 196 hp to the wheels; I felt a bit down vs the other cars, everyday cars, pushing closer to 300hp.

Since this time started exploring all options to put power into the Kat, from twin turbos to superchargers to 4.2 strokers to the 5.0. After many years of review, I decided to go with the big boy Hemi 6.1 SRT V8 conversion, with Performance Innovations. The SRT-8 engine packs 425 horsepower and 420 ft-lb torque, in a car that will be over 1,400 lbs lighter than its brother Challenger or Charger.

Just after a few weeks of talking to Brendan from Performance Innovations (out of North Carolina) and hearing his passion for the project, I got on uship.com and scheduled a private hauler to take the Kat from NJ to NC for a long winter nap.

There a thing about trust and taking risk is always there especially when you love your car, and it’s a low production vehicle. But after talking with so many different people (fellow owners, shops, mechanics, etc) and hearing his personal experience with custom projects, it was a done deal. The goal is to equalize the delivery across the power band, while still being able to enjoy everyday driving since this motor is a stock high performance engine.

A number of parts went up for sale, headed to fellow owners in Texas, the UK, and Australia.

We had to make a custom bell-housing engine adapter to adapt the 6.1 Hemi engine to accept the Prowler style drive shaft; the rear engine mount is integrated into the bell-housing. The team had to shave a part of the railing to clear the frame and tweak the oil pan as needed to insure a good clearance underneath.

NHRA that limits convertibles without a roll bar to about a speed of 13.5 on the 1/4 mile. With the 6.1, we plan on smoking that, so we started looking for options and to also change the looks up a bit. We found a great deal on a nice used black TGF hardtop in California on Craigslist. It will support our new red on black theme and should buy some more time for track days. We also picked up a nice used modified grill from a fellow owner.

To help with braking, we decided to upgrade the front rotors and brake pads all around, with EBC 3GD sport series rotors (dimpled, vented, and slotted). There are few options for back rotors, but you can drill holes in the stock ones for better cooling.

We tried it with a hood scoop (for clearance) but I wasn’t sure of the look and wanted it to be functional, and Brendan suggested an old style Mopar shaker hood. We ordered the Autoform design; they build the only fully functional and integrated shaker, with a built in K&N, full water drainage system, and a cover that is moveable inside for more protection on rainy days. It’s designed for a Challenger. It was relatively easy to modify the shaker, but cutting the Prowler’s aluminum hood was no picnic.

The Prowler was a low production car, so not many high performance bolt in options exist; when you look to do something radical like putting a SRT-8 Hemi engine in a car that had a V6, pretty much everything ends up being a custom one off job. This is what makes the project complex, a ton of work, and it requires skilled builders to make it all come together. Take the headers and exhaust system . Most cars you can go online and order a high performance set. But where do you find headers for a 6.1 hemi engine that will work and fit in a Prowler? They don’t exist, so with 30 hours or more of hand work and welding, the team at Performance Innovations converted a lot of metal to high performance headers.

So anyone can buy a crate 6.1 engine, but how do you properly secure it to the frame in the perfect position, insure safety, the proper height, location and fit? Motor mounts where handmade by Brendan and the team to get this engine to sit perfectly. The oil pan sat a little low, but Brendan worked his magic again, fabricated a new pan, still insuring plenty of space for the oil and pump, with depth to recirculate. Great custom work, while still maximizing the core components and no worries for clearance. It’s been pressure tested.

We decided to get the headers coated by Jethot. They coat inside and out, it looks nice and can reduce surface temperatures up to 50% to keep things cooler in the engine bay. I also started thinking about is badging; I’m not looking for a sleeper car but want to keep it classy, so ordered these 370 Hemi custom ones for the side of the shaker. On the back, I went with the SRT8 tail badge. I also have a set of 6.1 Hemi side badges, and a small SRT badge grill.

When the transaxle went back in, it was measured and calibrated to the millimeter. The tolerance was even better than factory, but if it’s not tight all around, it can spell trouble. We used the existing transmission, but with an upgraded torque convertor, shortened drive shaft, custom engine mounts, and connecting it to the shaft differently. A stock V6 prowler V6 is rated at 253 hp @ 6400 rpm and 255 lb-ft of torque @ 3950 rpm. I’m putting in a 6.1 srt hemi with 425hp at 6000rpm and 420 ft lb torque at 4800, as well as intake mods. A stock Prowler may do 170 hp to wheels; I got 196 hp on the dyno with headers, intake, etc.

When the transaxle went back in, it was measured and calibrated to the millimeter. The tolerance was even better than factory, but if it’s not tight all around, it can spell trouble. We used the existing transmission, but with an upgraded torque convertor, shortened drive shaft, custom engine mounts, and connecting it to the shaft differently. A stock V6 prowler V6 is rated at 253 hp @ 6400 rpm and 255 lb-ft of torque @ 3950 rpm. I’m putting in a 6.1 srt hemi with 425hp at 6000rpm and 420 ft lb torque at 4800, as well as intake mods. A stock Prowler may do 170 hp to wheels; I got 196 hp on the dyno with headers, intake, etc.

Building a custom Prowler hood: The team spent over a week doing custom fiberglass work to try to build up the hood using the custom trim ring to shape the hood. Overall, it was not bad, but required a lot of material and build up to make it to the lip of the shaker. They wanted to ensure the highest long term quality for the car, so Brendan and the team decided to take another route and start over.

The prowler hood is made out of aluminum to save weight. The goal is to create a custom hood that integrates the shaker into the curves and design, so they decided to create a custom aluminum panel to raise the over hood to line up to the shaker so it will look more like a stock piece. Aluminum can be formed and welded, and then directly integrated into the current Prowler hood. This can insure for a permanently sealed solution as well as provide a rear nice look to the car.

The first step was a custom trim ring to set the positioning and build up area. Then, using tape, the team laid out the build up outline design from the custom aluminum piece to be built, formed, and attached to the hood. It slopes, only leaving the top of the shaker sticking through — very creative. Brendan wrote:

There is plenty of clearance between the shaker and engine. About 1/2″ all the way around. The same clearance that the shakers have in stock Chargers and Challengers. Also keep in mind the Hemi engine in a Prowler doesn’t torque or shake as much like it would in the Charger or Challenger because the trans is not connected to the engine; the trans is what transfers the torque and with it being mounted in the rear, it won’t torque like a Charger or Challenger, bolted to the back of the engine.

With the custom shaker work and limited amount of space / visibility in the engine bay, we decided to keep the Hemi block as is (still orange) and ordered the OEM 6.1 coil covers instead of painting them red. Nothing fancy, just a coated plastic piece but seeing 6.1 Hemi (in white and red) under the hood and 370 hemi on shaker (like below) coming through feels pretty good to me.

Performance Innovations is also making a hand-built custom radiator; the first 6.1 Prowler they built did not have air conditioning, but mine will. It has the condenser on the front with mounting bosses; they used the stock prowler condenser (black) and mounted it to the much larger custom Hemi radiator. It was pressure checked, submerged in a tub of water, to check for leaks. A Hemi compressor was added, with custom hoses.

In April 2012, with all of the buzz around the SRT Prowler project, I was invited by the SRT team to see the new Viper reveal in NYC. I had a press pass, and had a chance to meet most of the SRT engineers that worked on the Viper, some who had worked on the Prowler, and best of all, SRT CEO Ralph Gilles.

We learned a few things on this project…

  • The Prowler uses an analog (mechanical) gas pedal, but the 6.1 Hemi requires an electronic pedal that sends a signal to the computer to control fuel injection. Since the last build that part number changed so a new pedal was ordered.
  • Oxygen sensors that pick up signals to control the engine also changed.
  • We also needed some new header spacers and custom radiator parts.
  • We needed a catch can (from Billet Tech in this case) for blowby, to slow down and filter oil that may otherwise end up in the intake.

The first official reveal of the car will be at the Chrysler Nationals on July 6, 2012.

Overall, the conversion is not a piece of cake, it takes time. If you are serious and interested in this build, I would give Brendan a call early on. You have to love the car a lot, plan to keep it a long time, and plan financially. You have to have a true passion for the project, be patient, take risks, and love the potiential outcome to make it worthwhile for you and the builder.

If you talk with any Prowler owner or builder that has done a major build, there is passion you hear, it’s a universal and priceless decision. I must have talked to at least a dozen people before I pulled the trigger with Performance Innovations. Now I’m one of them and why I decided not to keep it a secret, but to share the project with other fellow owners that may have a simular passion.

As for the cost, it’s less than what I’d have to spend to get similar peformance from a new Corvette, Porsche, Camaro, Mustang, or SRT8; none look better or turn heads like a Prowler. I plan to keep it forever.

Is it worth it? Yes, I love the car and rather than trade it in, why not keep it forever with the power to match most modern cars on the street?

Plymouth Prowler Hemi Conversion Photography

 

 

2012 Rochester Lillac Festival!

Join us this Friday for the opening of the Lilac Festival!

It’s a community wide celebration! It’s an international springtime party! It’s nearly time for Rochester’s annual Lilac Festival and everyone is invited to enjoy ten full days of entertainment and fun!

The only 10-day free festival of its kind in North America. It is inspired by a magnificent lilac collection at Highland Park that plays host to over 500 varieties of lilacs on more than 1,200 bushes.  What was first planted in 1892 by horticulturist John Dunbar has turned into the world’s largest lilac collection that even Martha Stewart has enjoyed when she visited the festival in 2007.  This event is perfect for all ages and was even voted as a top 100 event by the American Bus Association for 2010.

What makes it so special other than the fragrant backdrop of the lilacs?

Ten days of free entertainment on our main stage including performances by national recording artists.  Free children’s entertainment during the week and on the weekends! Special events such as our Business ROCs Lilacs on Tuesday, “As Seen On TV” on Wednesday, Wine & Farmer’s Market on Thursday and Medved Lilac 10K & 5K Family Fun Run on Sunday, plus much more! The 2012 Lilac Parade will bring dozens of marching bands, decorated floats, clowns, dancers and costumed characters.

Visitors will see not only nature’s bounty in abundance, but exhibitors, food vendors, entertainment, children’s activities and so much more. We encourage you to travel to the Lilac Festival – there is something for everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Dodges make USAA Best Values LIst

USAA has unveiled its second annual Best Value vehicles list, naming the top 2012 automobiles in 16 categories for consumers looking to get the most bang for their buck. Three Dodge vehicles, the Charger, Journey and Grand Caravan, made the list. No other brand had as many winners, though Toyota and Lexus combined for three. Ford and GM had just one winner each.

USAA says winners offer carbuyers the best financial value based on a rating system called USAA Preferred that uses quantitative data to evaluate cost, safety, reliability, and other key factors. Nearly 80 cars and light trucks are currently designated as USAA Preferred vehicles, and the Best Value list represents the vehicles at the top of each category.

“Thirty percent of members who added a new model year vehicle to their USAA auto insurance policy in 2011 chose a USAA Preferred or Best Value vehicle,” says Steve Thompson, an assistant vice president with USAA. “The goal of the list is to help members identify vehicles that offer better safety ratings, lower insurance premium costs, higher fuel economy, better overall reliability and lower MSRP compared to other vehicles in the same category.”

Automotive expert Lauren Fix, The Car Coach, notes that the average vehicle on the road today is 10 years old.

“As the economy improves, new car sales are expected to increase as consumers begin replacing their clunkers with new models,” says Fix. “Summer is a great time to get an excellent deal on a 2012 model, especially as used car costs remain nearly on par with new vehicles.”

 

USAA 2012 BEST VALUES
Large Sedan Dodge Charger
Midsize Sedan Toyota Camry Hybrid
Small Sedan Hyundai Elantra
Large Luxury Sedan Hyundai Genesis
Midsize Luxury Sedan Volvo S60
Large SUV Chevrolet Traverse
Midsize SUV Dodge Journey
Small SUV Kia Sportage
Large Luxury SUV Audi Q7
Midsize Luxury SUV Lexus RX 450h
Large Pickup Toyota Tundra 2WD
Small Pickup Nissan Frontier
Sports Ford Mustang
Coupe Honda CR-Z (hybrid)
Wagon Nissan Juke
Minivan Dodge Caravan

Test Drive: 2013 Dodge Dart Compact Cars

by Bill Cawthon

The Dodge Dart and I go back a long way — all the way to the Dodge-on-a-Plymouth-size-chassis introduced in the fall of 1959. By then, my Dad had transferred to Plymouth, but I had seen the Dart before it hit dealer showrooms. Twelve years later, my first American car was a 1971 Dart Swinger with a Slant Six and three-on-the-tree [editor’s note: the 1960 Dart was based on the mid-sized Plymouth, not on the Valiant].

Fast-forward four decades to a Wednesday morning in Austin, Texas, which started bright and early as assorted journalists and bloggers headed into an 8:00 AM product presentation led by Chad Robertson, head of Dodge Car Marketing, who gave us a product and positioning overview of the new Dart. Next up was Jeff Gale, Senior Manager, Dodge Exterior Design Studio. Jeff took us through the creative process of developing a distinctive body language that is definitely Dodge but not a junior Charger. Ryan Nagode, Chief Designer, Dodge and Ram Interior Studios, talked about the upgraded interior of the Dart, which has features seldom found in a car in this class. Last, but not least, Cyril Benitah, Engineering Program Manager for the Dodge Dart, showed us not just the new engines and transmissions, but the underlying body structure with the various materials used to control weight while ensuring structural rigidity.

After the presentation, it was off to a parking lot near the W Austin hotel, where we stayed, to meet our rides for the day. As is typical of such events, we were paired up, two writers to a car. Each team would take a car to our destination in Albert, Texas, with a break along the way to switch drivers. I paired up with Rich Truesdell of AutomotiveTraveler.com. Since we were the senior members of the bunch, it seemed like a good fit.

Another participant drove the automatic 2.0 setup. He wrote: “It transferred the power smoothly and the shifts were quick and clean. It was exactly as an automatic transmission should be: invisible.”

There was a nice assortment of Darts from which to choose, with all trim levels, except the base SE, available. Rich and I selected a Dart Limited in Tungsten Metallic Clear Coat with the 1.4-liter MultiAir engine and the C635 6-speed manual transmission. Stickered at $23,275, not including destination, our car was well equipped with black Nappa leather, the digital instrument cluster, Uconnect Touch 8.4N CD/MP3/Garmin Navigation with Voice Command, and more.

After a little experimentation with clutch throw, we were off to the hill country west of Austin via an assortment of farm-to-market roads, ranch roads, and thoroughfares lovingly laid out long ago by meandering cattle.

The Dart was quite comfortable; controls were well laid-out and the climate control was more than competent, though it wasn’t competing with summer heat in Texas, which can be toasty at times.

The MultiAir engine was a fine powerplant: responsive and eager to rev. The car never felt like it was short on power in spite of the Dart’s relatively high weight. The transmission shifted smoothly and I found myself doing more gear changes than strictly necessary because it was so much fun to control the car with engine speed instead of the brakes.

The brakes deserve mention. There’s no doubt they will stop the car, especially the first time you use them. The brakes on our Limited had a tendency to grab abruptly and it took careful modulation of the brake pedal to come to a smooth stop. However, we quickly grew accustomed to this and it never created any problems.

Steering was precise with almost no perceptible torque steer, even in a high-speed pass through the twisties. In spite of the car’s extra weight, the Dart took every curve like it was on rails, even at extra-legal speeds.

The nature of the roads worked against any really high speeds. As we were the last of several groups taking the Dart Drive over the same route, the Texas Highway Patrol and various sheriffs’ departments smelled easy pickings; I saw more black-and-whites that day than I had ever seen in the eleven years I lived in Central Texas. Nevertheless, I did find one nice long, unpatrolled straight section and the Dart showed it would easily hit triple digits with room to spare.

We stopped at the Sac ‘N Pac in Wimberley, Texas, to switch drivers. Rich took the wheel and I took my turn as the navigator. While the car was equipped with a nice navigation system, the folks running the show had issued route books and told us to ignore the electronics.

 

The Dart was comfortable with a good ride. The car’s suspension was set up as a compromise between the performance-oriented firmness of the original Alfa Romeo and the softer ride desired by most Americans. While it wasn’t as stiff as I am used to, the handling was good and the car was sure-footed, even over some roads that hadn’t seen much maintenance since the Coolidge Administration.

 

Rich commented about the Dart’s weight a couple of times, but I found it gave the car a smoother ride than some others in this class.

Long about noon, we arrived at our destination, the Ice House and Dance Hall in Albert, Texas, population four, where we had lunch and changed cars. We got another Tungsten Dart: this time, a Rallye with the Tigershark 2.0-liter engine. We stayed with the manual transmission. The car had a lower level of amenities, but still had the Uconnect Touch and Garmin Navigation.

We also had one of the colorful interiors mentioned by Ryan Nagode in the morning’s briefing: “diesel” gray with accents in a nearly fluorescent yellow-green called Citrus Peel. The lower door panels had a large insert in the accent color that could most kindly be called eye-catching. I am not opposed to brightening the interior with bright color accents; just maybe not that color.

We encountered a problem very quickly: the six-speed transmission, the same type that had worked so well in our other Dart, had a gremlin in the gearbox. Not only was it difficult to make a smooth start, there was a problem shifting into second gear, either shifting up or down. Once you got going, the upper gears worked just fine, but second gear proved to be a problem all afternoon. [Note: the cars driven were pre-production models.]

 

I had heard reports that the Tigershark engine was too underpowered and had trouble maintaining speed going uphill. This was one of the reasons for selecting the manual transmission. I have driven cars with engines weak enough that you were going to creep up some inclines at low speed, no matter what gear you select, and the Dart isn’t one of them. I encountered only one hill where a downshift to fourth was needed but, in the proper gear, the Tigershark had no trouble maintaining speed. Perhaps the other drivers were more accustomed to more torque, but neither Rich nor I found any problem with the engine’s power.

Unlike many drivers these days, I haven’t embraced in-car connectivity. Rich was accustomed to the in-car technology but using it still required too much attention being diverted from the road ahead. Like others cars, Dart uses a touch screen interface; it works well and there’s all sorts of useful information. Trying to access it, though, means taking one’s eyes off the road, and often requires repeated interactions, something I observed Rich trying to do as we were whizzing down the road at 75 mph. Reading the screen requires still more attention. Then he was trying to sync his cell phone to the Bluetooth system and we began to leave the lane [no automaker intends for this to be done while driving].

The problems are not unique to the Dart. It’s a lack of understanding how humans work combined with the engineer’s native “gee whiz” instinct that causes them to add complexity just because it’s neat and they can with never of thought of whether they should. [Editor’s note: in fairness, buyers are now demanding these technologies and companies who do not provide them lose sales. UConnect was recently judged the most intuitive user interface — which does not invalidate Bill’s observations. Chrysler’s adding audio controls to the steering wheel was one way to work around the inherent problems of touch screens.]

Other than the balky second gear, the Dart Rallye was an equally pleasurable driving machine. A comfortable ride, supportive seats and decent highway-speed power made it easy to imagine the Dart being a good companion on a long drive.

As a family car, the Dart is probably best for those with younger children. The back seat conditions might be a bit cramped for a full-size teenager or adult, especially on longer trips. I would not want to be sitting behind me on a long drive but in fairness, that’s true of a lot of smaller cars.

The last small Dodge I drove was a Neon SRT4. In terms of fun-to-drive, the Neon was a little rocket. In terms of everything else, the Dart is light-years ahead. The cars we were driving were specially built pre-production vehicles and, as such, had some minor issues with fit that should be corrected before actual production begins, but even so, the cars we drove had a higher quality feel, especially the interiors. The only areas that Rich didn’t like were the lower door panels, but I thought they were fine for components that have to withstand harder use than the upper sections. There weren’t any of the hard, shiny plastic surfaces or cheap fittings that used to bring so much criticism of Chrysler interiors.

The SRT Dart, like the 2.4-liter MultiAir engine, is in the future, but if the 1.4-liter MultiAir is any indication, the hot Dart will be just as much fun as the Neon SRT4.

One of the questions any reviewer has to answer is would recommend the vehicle they are evaluating to a friend or neighbor. I take it a step further and ask myself if I could see the car in my own driveway. To either of these questions, my answer would be yes.

Dart Starts Production and Dart Mileage

Dart starts production

The Dodge Dart has finally entered official production. After it was delayed past January, insiders told Allpar that the target date was near the end of April (before some outlets ran stories about how April 1 was the target date, which as far as we know was never the case.) The first true production cars appeared to have rolled off the line today, May 7.

The first vehicle off the line was a red Dodge Dart Rallye with a black and red interior, powered by a 1.4-liter engine with manual transmission. Optional features included a rear camera and sunroof.

Official Dart mileage

The officially measured gas mileage has been released, with official EPA ratings coming through at 27 city, 39 highway with the 1.4 liter engine, and 25 city, 36 highway with the 2.0 engine.

In both cases, the gas mileage figures are for the cars with six-speed manual transmissions. The conventional automatic is expected to have somewhat lower gas mileage, while the dual-clutch available later with the 1.4 engine could potentially get better mileage (it is likely to be similar).

A model tuned for higher gas mileage, using the 1.4 engine, is due late this year.

The Dart is somewhat unusual in that its lowest engine, the 2.0, gets lower gas mileage than the optional, higher-power turbocharged engine. A more powerful engine, the 2.4 liter, will be available on the R/T model with both a manual and an automatic transmission. All Dart transmissions, manual, automatic, and dual-clutch, have six speeds.

2014 Jeep Liberkee: the Italian-American Liberty / Cherokee

Disclaimer: this article was pieced together from company statements, spy shots, and related vehicles.

The name. The name “Jeep Liberty” was created because, for a while, it looked as though Jeep would sell both the original, still-popular Jeep Cherokee and the new generation, which, like the original ZJ Grand Cherokee, was created to replace it. In Europe, the two were never sold together, and the original Jeep Cherokee name remains, attached to what Americans and Canadians call the Liberty. Many expect Jeep to standardize on the Cherokee name when the next generation arrives, dropping Liberty. Others believe Jeep will standardize on Liberty across the world; either way, it appears that the days of having two names are over.

The spy photo shown above shows the Jeep grille underneath the camo; the “hood” is likely not that big, what we’re looking at is probably styrofoam hiding an aero front. Body panels are Alfa pieces. The roof might not slope quite that badly. Word is the interior is fairly large but there’s almost no luggage space, and you can see the entry angle will be poor due to the long front overhang. The mule above uses body panels that will not carry forward, but the structure will not change — core supports, pillars, and assemblies. MoparNorm wrote, “Assume items with camo are complete, items without camo may or may not still get modifications.”

The 2014 Jeep Liberty / Cherokee (some jokingly call it Liberkee) was shown to insiders in 2011, who called it upscale and attractive. One observer wrote, “It looks like a mix of the Compass and the Grand Cherokee, sleek and un-Jeep-like.” Interior space is generous for passengers, but tight for cargo — possibly exacerbated by the expected “sloping roof” which is de rigeur for modern wagons, but stands in sharp contrast with past Cherokees. Even without that roof, there is simply little space behind the rear seats, or so we have been told. (It’s possible they will allow fore/aft movement of the rear seats.)

The 2014 Cherokee / Liberty — or, again, Liberkee — will be made on an extended, lifted version of the basic Dodge Dart car platform during calendar-year 2013, after an unusually long factory shutdown and refit, expected to take six to eight months. It might be a “real Jeep,” but most observers believe it will be less off-road capable than the current model, with a single Trail Rated version that matches the current Trail Rated Liberty.

Either way, the car is almost certain to have a 3.2 V6 instead of the 3.6, for better wheel travel and gas mileage, and was set to be the first vehicle with that engine (launch delays might result in another car getting the 3.2 first). A VM diesel is possible since Euro and US standards are converging. Four cylinders are likely to be a Tiger Shark 2.4, and the 1.4 liter Fiat turbo as a gas-mileage king; there might be a single four-cylinder to simplify production and reduce engineering costs.

The primary transmission is to be the ZF nine-speed automatic, to be built by Chrysler itself, in Kokomo. The ZF transmission uses a TorqueFlite-style planetary gearset, but there the resemblance ends; it has four wheel sets (interlaced to save space) with six shift elements, the first application of interlocking dog clutches in car powershift transmissions, and exceedingly fast reaction and shifting times including direct double shifts and multiple shifts. An automatic start-stop system is possible without additional components.

The nine-speed ZF automatic, though, makes no provision for a two-speed transfer case. Some believe Jeep will simply drop that feature even in the Trail Rated model; others believe Jeep will come up with a clever solution, which could include using a different transmission with Trail Rating.

If the 1.4 liter Fiat engine is used, a dual-clutch Fiat transmission is possible. A manual transmission, though some enthusiasts would appreciate it, is unlikely.

Production will continue to be at Toledo. An Alfa Romeo on the same basic dimensions is expected, as is a Chrysler crossover and hatchback; these are all likely to be lower to the ground.

Mike Manley told Allpar:

… whether it’s the Liberty replacement or whether it’s the Patriot replacement, there will be a trail-rated version of those vehicles as well. That’s very important to us, because that’s DNA that traces our history all the way back to Wrangler as to be in each of our vehicles. There are different levels of capabilities, but our aim is in the segment that those vehicles play in that we will offer a model that is the most capable, and that model will be trail-rated and the only way to be trail-rated is to meet the rigorous standards that we have. …

I think you’ll find that when you see the new D-SUV which will be out next year, you’ll see that the engineers have been able to use technology in very good ways to create a true Jeep with great capability, but also will provide some of those other needs that have been emerging in the segment over the last 10 or 15 years.

Can we expect it to outperform the current Liberty, off-road?

What I can tell you is that the next generation of vehicle will be better than the current generation vehicle in a whole host of ways. You’re going to have to wait and see.