When the 2004 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited arrives in showrooms in April, the Chrysler group will try to win back young men who miss the two-door Jeep Cherokee.
"We are going after the male who loved the Cherokee but didn't gravitate to the Jeep Liberty," says George Murphy, Chrysler group senior vice president of global marketing. "This vehicle is a solution because it has the look, feel and aura of the Cherokee."
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is a stretched version of the Wrangler. The wheelbase of the Unlimited is lengthened 10 inches, adding 15 inches to the vehicle's overall length. Cargo space increases 13 inches, and rear seat space grows 2 inches.
Jeep dropped the Cherokee after the 2001 model year. The Liberty arrived in the 2002 model year to compete against a new generation of small SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
"Liberty was a demonstration that you could grow the Jeep brand," says Jeff Bell, vice president of Jeep and Chrysler brand marketing. "It has a more modern style and more creature comforts than the Cherokee, which was 17 years old when it retired."
About 70 percent of Liberty buyers are new to the Jeep brand, Murphy says, fulfilling the vehicle's mission to expand the brand.
With the Unlimited, Jeep wants to recapture former owners. About 40 percent of Cherokee buyers opted for two-door models, Murphy says, creating a natural customer base for the two-door Unlimited.
The Unlimited is equipped with a 4.0-liter inline-six engine rated at 190 hp. A soft top is standard; a hard top is optional.
The Unlimited was developed from concept to production in 18 months, Murphy says. Advertising breaks in April.
Last week, Jeep said the Wrangler Unlimited will carry a base sticker price of $24,995, including destination charges. Wrangler stickers, including destination, start at $16,940 and go to $25,755.