Chrysler Group is suspending production of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango at its Jefferson North Assembly plant for three weeks starting December 22 to upgrade its paint shop. The upgrade will allow the shop to create paint vehicles with more complex exterior colors.
Due to the suspension, Chrysler also suspended dealer orders of the Grand Cherokee and Durango in any color other than grayscale -- black, white, silver or gray -- until at least February. The production suspension will be the first time that the Jefferson North Assembly plant will stop operations for such an extended period since the carmaker collapsed into bankruptcy in 2009.
According to Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson, the upgrades at the paint shop will pave way for a new painting process that will enhance the way the Grand Cherokee and Durango are painted, adding that more colors could be created eventually and would slowly become available.
The Grand Cherokee has been available in black, white, silver, gray tan, brown, red, blue and maximum steel, depending on the trim level. Only around 19 percent of the almost 24,500 unsold 2015 Grand Cherokees listed on jeep.com were painted a color other than grayscale.
Durango, meanwhile, has been available in black, white, silver, gray, blue, tan, bright red, dark red, green and maximum steel. Only over 8 percent of the 719 unsold Durangos listed on dodge.com were painted a color other than grayscale.
Grand Cherokee posted a 6-percent jump in sales in the United States in the first 10 months of 2014 to 151,303. Dodge Durango also logged a 6-percent leap in US sales in the same period to 52,866 units.
The Dodge Design team worked to give the Durango a new exterior that communicates its advance nature, while still retaining its assertive personality and muscular body.
Up front, the new Durango is marked by a new, slimmer "split crosshair" grille with mesh textures distinct to each trim level. This -- along with the raised bumper and redesigned projector-beam headlamps – allows the new 2014 Dodge Durango to sport a more menacing appearance. Likewise, the vehicle’s sculpted hood and grille lend the Durango a forward-leaning profile that continues through its deeply browed headlamps.
Both the Rallye and R/T variants of the Durango are fitted with dark-tinted headlamp bezels, body-colored front and rear lower fascias, as well as body colored grille, wheel flares and sill moldings. In addition, the ride height of R/T is now lower by 20 mm, giving this version sportier dynamics and looks. Dodge has equipped the 2014 Durango with projector beam headlamps, with the R/T and Citadel sporting bi-xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) units.
The Rallye, Limited, RT and Citadel versions, meanwhile, feature LED daytime running lamps, forming a distinct "hockey-stick" shape as they run horizontally on the lower border of the headlamp. Thanks to auto-leveling technology, the headlight beam adjusts even on slight changes in elevation.
The front end also sports new projector fog lamps, fog lamp surrounds as well as matching crosshair grille texture. The new lower fascia -- along with the taller front bumper – lends the new Dodge Durango a wider and more assertive appearance.
As designed, the new Durango features a side profile which resembles a coke bottle, as it is accented by muscular fender arches as well as curves flowing back through the doors. In addition, the passenger compartment blends smoothly into the body. The new Durango also features body-colored rear spoiler that doesn’t just make it more visually aggressive, but also helps cut down aerodynamic drag.