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First official pics of 2014 Cherokee

Contrary to what most people believe, there is an art to building ugly cars - and it doesn't happen by accident. If you simply cover a workable chassis with sheet metal, you'll get something resembling an early Land Rover, a Chev Nomad or the infamous Toyota TUV.

The point is, none of those was actually very ugly.

To achieve real ugliness (and we're not talking about something that just looks unfinished), you have to work at it, and it's more difficult to achieve than you'd think - just ask the designers responsible for the Fiat Multipla.

Well, by those standards, Jeep deserve an Oscar for their all-new mid-size SUV, which revives the celebrated Cherokee nameplate as a replacement for the late, unlamented Liberty, and which is due to make its public debut at the New York motor show, opening to the public from 29 March to April 7.

DAMAGE CONTROL

These four publicity shots, beautifully staged and lit to minimise the OMG effect of the new Cherokee's stunning antipulchritude, have been released this far ahead of the launch as damage control after motoring website Jalopnik posted a set of spy shots of the new Cherokee that make it look a whole lot worse than it does here,

But it's still obvious that the Chrysler style studio haven't missed a trick, from the splayed, out-of-proportion grille to the lumpy bonnet, slit-eyed headlights, silly two-tone plastic cladding, out-of-scale spoiler and a wonky waistline that goes up, down and sideways in all the wrong places.

The interior, however, is apparently quite conservative.

For which we should all bow our heads towards Toledo, Ohio and give grateful thanks.

Chrysler hasn't revealed any mechanical details (they need to have something to talk about in New York!) beyond saying that “the no-compromise 2014 Jeep Cherokee has best-in-class capability, exemplary on-road drivability and fuel consumption 45 percent lower than the Liberty.”

Insiders are expecting to see 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.2 V6 petrol engines, with the possibility of two-litre and three-litre turbodiesels (maybe sourced from Fiat?) for European market.

COMING TO SA

The new Cherokee will be built in Toledo on the same CUSW platform as the Dodge Dart, so it's likely front-wheel drive will be standard, although all-wheel drive will have to be an option. North American sales are scheduled to start in the third quarter of this year and Chrysler SA is expecting the 3.2 and 2.4-litre petrol derivatives to land in South Africa in the first quarter of 2014. The diesels, as ever, remain doubtful starters due to the dubious quality of our fuel.

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