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Jeep delays Cherokee introduction to fall

Jeep\'s new SUV has been pushed back several months so engineers can fix some assembly and transmission issues.

Jeep has indicated that its new Cherokee won't go on sale until at least September, a delay of several months the automaker says it will need in order to address some issues it is having with both the vehicle's new nine-speed automatic transmission and with its newly-overhauled Ohio assembly plant.

"September, October, November is where it's going to start contributing to our sales," Chrysler sales chief Reid Bigland told Automotive News.

That somewhat cryptic statement appears to indicate that Cherokees won't begin arriving in dealers until sometime during September. Chrysler has been without a vehicle between its entry-level Patriot and Compass models and its increasingly upmarket Grand Cherokee since it dropped the Liberty from its lineup last September.

Jeep is building the Cherokee in an all-new body shop using what spokeswoman Jodi Tinson called "a whole new process."

Specific calibration changes to the nine-speed automatic transmission - a new unit for Chrysler - have not been detailed. At its debut in March at the New York International Auto Show, the automaker had indicated that the Cherokee would be on the market this summer.

Despite the production setback, Jeep has already indicated that the Cherokee will sticker for a hair under $24,000 when it does finally go on sale.

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