Chrysler Group pulled the cover off the all-new Jeep Cherokee SUV last week, ahead of the model’s official unveiling at the New York International Auto Show later this month. Many publications, including Kicking Tires, acknowledge the Cherokee as the replacement for the Liberty, which was produced through August 2012. The Liberty debuted as a 2002 model and was a replacement for the last Jeep Cherokee. 

In a press release, Chrysler Group says the new Cherokee will offer “exemplary on-road driving dynamics, and fuel economy improvements of more than 45 percent versus the outgoing mid-size SUV model.” The 2012 Jeep Liberty achieved EPA fuel economy ratings of 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined. A 45 percent increase means the Cherokee could achieve a combined fuel economy rating of about 26 mpg.

The Cherokee is entering a hotly-contested segment, and will compete with popular affordable compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4. All three of these models are capable of achieving an EPA-combined rating of 26 mpg.

WardsAuto spoke with Ralph Gilles, Chrysler Group senior vice president of product design and SRT president and CEO, regarding the design of the new Cherokee, citing a commenter on Twitter who called the new design “a travesty.” Gilles acknowledged that the new Cherokee is “a huge departure” from the Liberty, but said the design holds true to the evolution of Jeep designs in recent years.

Since it hasn’t officially debuted yet, few technical details about the new Cherokee are known. However, Car and Driver believes that the Cherokee will be available with four-cylinder and V6 engine options, as well as a nine-speed automatic transmission and optional all-wheel drive.

Chrysler Group says that the new Jeep Cherokee will hit showrooms in the third quarter of 2013 as a 2014 model. 

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