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Chrysler ships new Cherokees

Oct. 23, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

DETROIT -- Chrysler began shipping the new Jeep Cherokee on Tuesday, giving dealers a long-awaited entry in the fast-growing compact crossover SUV market.

Distribution of the Cherokees had been delayed while Chrysler engineers tinkered with the new nine-speed automatic transmissions to make them shift more smoothly.

Company spokesmen confirmed that trucks hauling Cherokees began leaving a Toledo, Ohio, factory on Tuesday morning, heading for Jeep dealers across the nation.

At Golling Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Bloomfield Township, Mich., north of Detroit, employees waited eagerly for the first truckload of Cherokees to arrive Tuesday afternoon.

Owner Bill Golling said the delay in shipping probably cost Chrysler hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue because the company books the sale when it ships cars to dealers.

Cherokees are far more sleek-looking than the boxy model they replaced, the Jeep Liberty. That will help them go head-to-head with the top sellers in the compact crossover market, the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape.

The compact crossover segment is among the fastest-growing in the U.S., with sales more than quadrupling in the past 13 years to more than 1.6 million, according to LMC Automotive, an industry data and research firm.

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