DETROIT -- Chrysler Group is reviving the Cherokee nameplate as part of plans to replace the Liberty SUV in Jeep's lineup. The move was announced Friday after photographs of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee showed up on auto enthusiast Web sites earlier in the day.
The automaker had hoped to keep the mid-sized SUV -- and its name -- secret until a planned introduction at the New York auto show next month. However, photos of several 2014 Cherokees taken during pre-production at Chrysler's Toledo North Assembly plant were unveiled Friday morning on the site Jalopnik.com.
The automaker released few details on Friday in revealing the name, but included four official photos of the new vehicle and said it will begin arriving in dealerships in the third quarter.
Along with the Wrangler, the Cherokee nameplate is one of the most storied and popular in Jeep history.
Automotive News has previously reported that the Cherokee would be powered by a 3.2-liter V-6 engine based on Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar engine, as well as an all-new 9-speed front-wheel-drive automatic transmission designed by ZF Friedrichshafen.
Online reaction to the leaked photographs was less than stellar. Late this afternoon, Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's head of design, tweeted "have faith" to a Jeep enthusiast who had expressed disappointment with the design.
"We are shifting some paradigms around... it is time," Gilles tweeted.
The Cherokee is scheduled to go into production in May. Chrysler discontinued output of the Liberty in August 2012, a move that has put a dent in Jeep sales in recent months.
Chrysler ended production of the venerable Jeep Cherokee, a mid-sized SUV, in 2001 after nearly two decades.
David Phillips contributed to this report
The Cherokee will be powered by a 3.2-liter V-6 engine based on Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar engine.
Automotive News and other publications were shown pre-production versions of the Cherokee in mid-December under an embargo that was to hold until the vehicle was revealed at the New York auto show.
Automotive News will continue to honor the remaining embargoed material.