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2014 Jeep Cherokee gets disconnecting AWD technology


December 23, 2013

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee will feature the EcoTrac Disconnecting All Wheel Drive system (Phot...

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee will feature the EcoTrac Disconnecting All Wheel Drive system (Photo: Chrysler)

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Set to debut in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, the EcoTrac Disconnecting AWD driveline system is designed to improve fuel efficiency by disengaging components from the driveline when not required, so that only power is delivered to the front wheels.

Back in February we reported that Jeep was taking a back-to-the-future approach in 2014 with the relaunch of the Cherokee. And while the resurrection of this classic was met with a mixed response from our readers, mostly critical of the same-sameness of the SUV design unveiled, we can now expand on how Jeep hopes to realize “fuel economy improvements of more than 45 percent” claimed at the time. This will in part be achieved by EcoTrac.

Produced by American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM), EcoTrac is billed as "the automotive industry's first disconnecting all-wheel-drive (AWD) system." It improves fuel economy by disengaging rotating parts of the driveline when not in use. According to AAM, the system saves 0.75 hp at 65 mph.

According to AAM, the EcoTrac system saves 0.75 hp at 65 mph

The technology effectively cuts the driveline in half, disconnecting the power transfer unit (PTU) and rear drive module (RDM) when in front-wheel drive mode. This reduces inertia and drag created by the movement of unnecessary components associated with powering the rear wheels.

EcoTrac can either be activated directly by the driver or automatically by the electronic control unit, which kicks-in under conditions such as rain, change in slope or change in temperature. These trigger points can also be customized by the driver.

When the control unit detects AWD is needed, the system engages utilizing a wet clutch in the RDM to bring the rear driveline up to the same speed as the PTU. This is designed to provide a seamless engagement of AWD without any interruption to the driver or vehicle performance. The system reverts back front-wheel drive mode once it senses conditions are suitable.

To date AMM has been granted five US patents for EcoTrac and has another nine pending.

Source: AMM


Front wheel drive by default? Yet one more reason this vehicle doesn't deserve the name Cherokee.

24th December, 2013 @ 03:41 am PST

Yep. Front wheel drive on a Fiat car platform. Though, by all accounts it actually seems to be more capable than the RWD liberty

Benjamin Roethig
24th December, 2013 @ 04:38 am PST

Nope. Front wheel drive on a Mercedes platform. Both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Chrysler 300 have their roots in the Mercedes M class.

24th December, 2013 @ 08:09 am PST

Well, everyone else has that system, I guess it was just a matter of time before Jeep copied it…. BUT, the real test will be the actual gas mileage. Some of the others are pushing 30 and 35 MPG (some maybe even more) and Jeep is stuck at 18 MPG…. I won't EVER buy one til they get their mileage up over 40MPG…(It can be done easily, and they know it…)

24th December, 2013 @ 11:20 am PST

Jeep re-invents the selectable transfer case. Gee, how exciting.

Whether the new Cherokee is off-road capable or not is beside the point. They eliminated too much cargo space in order to get their not-a-box crossover design, so it won't sell in the medium-size SUV market.

24th December, 2013 @ 12:40 pm PST

The grille looks like it was copied off an electric razor. I can picture a competitor doing a commercial with a giant grabbing one of these, rubbing it over his stubble, then a female giant voice says "Honey, that's not your electric razor!"

I saw a brand new one of these yesterday with only one headlight working. Looks like Chrysler better get ready for some early warranty claims, possibly a recall if this is going to be a problem.

Gregg Eshelman
24th December, 2013 @ 03:52 pm PST

It's the wrong kind of ugly Jeeps should not be styled by a swishy. The tech is overly complex but if works fine but how about bringing back headlight lenses that can be replaced with the money saved by skipping lunch for a couple days.

25th December, 2013 @ 02:26 pm PST

It's winning critics the world over (check Autoblog) and the initial ugliness of it is starting to wane the more I see it. At first glance I thought it was a new Pontiac Aztek or Nissan Juke . . .

Jason Pase
26th December, 2013 @ 09:13 pm PST

Saves 3/4th of a horsepower?? I don't see any big jump in mpg likely. How about electrically declutching the entire drive line including the rear end all the way to the back wheels? A new little turbodiesel powerplant would also help. Of course the biggest puzzle to me has been the number of people who drive a 4WD vehicle and never, never use it or need it. My diesel 4WD only comes out of the barn to work and not just to tool around town. I look at gallons per hour rather than mpg.

30th December, 2013 @ 07:21 am PST

Bubble, micro suv... You dare call this a CHEROKEE? I've seen this car in person, pictures are way better.

3rd January, 2014 @ 08:41 pm PST

Can somebody please explain to Grant that "[...] only power is delivered to the front wheels" does not mean at all the same thing as "[...] power is delivered to the front wheels only."? After all, we wouldn't want Grant thinking that perhaps post, or pizza, might be delivered to the front wheels as well, would we? :)

18th January, 2014 @ 02:13 am PST
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