Short Shift: Jeep Cherokee 9-speed Automatic Gets Second Update for Rough Shifting

Jeep Looks To Improve 9-Speed Shifting in Cherokee

We’re not the only ones finding problems with Jeep’s nine-speed automatic transmission. Owners of the 2014 Cherokee have complained loudly enough that Chrysler is reflashing the ZF-sourced ’box a second time to fix rough and delayed gearshifts.

According to Automotive News, Jeep dealers will update the transmission software on all unsold 2014 Cherokees and for any owner reporting transmission problems. Vehicles built after May 5 already have the new software. At least 12 out of 30 complaints submitted thus far to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cite poor shift quality, including transmissions that held gears for too long or suddenly shifted into neutral. Some dealers have already replaced transmissions and are stocking about a dozen of them per week.

Chrysler delayed the Cherokee’s launch last fall by several weeks to make last-minute fixes to the new transmission and then released two technical service bulletins in November and December, including an entire step-by-step process to recalibrate the adaptive software to better match the owner’s driving style. Dealers have also been asked to train “Qualified Subjective Shift Quality Auditors” to evaluate new and customer cars. Among other fixes, the update is supposed to smooth out shifts from first to second and second to third.

In our reviews of a four-cylinder and various V-6 Cherokees, we noticed erratic behavior from the nine-speed. It would deliver crisp, well-timed shifts on some occasions, yet on others would respond with slurred and delayed changes. Perhaps even more frustrating are eighth and ninth gears that rarely if ever engage—even with manual override.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk V-6 Tested: Jeep’s Sensitive Modern Man
Tested: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4

About Clifford Atiyeh