NHTSA is probing 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee over fire reports

Article by Anita Panait, on August 26, 2013

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are probing the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee sports utility vehicles after receiving three reports of fires in the headliner of the model near the passenger-side sun visor. The investigation covers around 146,000 vehicles. The probe, however, is not related to a long-running investigation on older Grand Cherokees that caught fire when hit from behind.

In each of the three complaints, the driver detected a burning smell and saw smoke coming from the headliner. When they lowered the windows to clear the smoke, the flames only grew larger. The three fires had to be extinguished since they kept burning even after the SUV was turned off.

In one instance, the fire shattered the sunroof, and in another, the burning visor fell onto the passenger seat, setting it on fire. Chrysler Group maintains that the Grand Cherokee remains one of the safest cars on the road.

A Chrysler spokesman wrote to Automotive News in an e-mail that “customer safety is paramount" at the carmaker. He said that Chrysler engineers are investigating the matter while also supporting the preliminary evaluation by NHTSA.

The US safety regulator usually commences this type of evaluation when consumer complaints or manufacturer service bulletins suggest that there may be a safety-related defect. Following completion of the evaluation, NHTSA either commences an engineering analysis or closes the inquiry. Depending on the results of the engineering analysis, NHTSA may either recommend a recall or close the inquiry.

Each surface of the new offering from Jeep has clearly been treated to improve aerodynamics. The new Grand Cherokee has a design that reveals more fluidity and enhances the fuel efficiency. In addition, when compared to the current version, the new model has its drag improved by 7%. For those who want specific figures, the 2009 Grand Cherokee revealed a Cd of 0.404 while the 2011 model is now at 0.37. Viewed from the side, the profile of this latest version has a profile that is muscular and sporty. On the B-pillars, black appliqués have been applied given the day-light opening, or DLO, a look that is more contemporary and aerodynamic. It also results in a sleek profile.

Door handles and mirrors in chromed can be added to the vehicle’s profile and this is able to complement the DLO surround, which is in full-chrome, for all models. The front section still has the well-known seven-slot grille of the brand. Trapezoidal wheel arches and round headlamps are present as well in the front. The 2011 Grand Cherokee’s lower front fascia is removable and offers enhanced fuel economy while showing off-road capability and delivering on-road performance.

This lower front fascia has large chromed appliqué, though this is only offered for the Overland and Limited models. It is also able to display the tow hooks. According to Giles, unlike the model that it will be replacing, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is more athletic, focused, and refined. The classic style of this model is still there, he added, but it now comes with sculpted athletic refinements on the exterior.

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