Jeep still working to improve Cherokee's 9-speed auto

Fiat Chrysler is hoping an upcoming software update will stem the tide of consumer complaints surrounding its nine-speed automatic transmission. Owners of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee have reported a number of problems on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, since the new model and its troubled gearbox arrived way back in October 2013.

The software update is " intended to keep the vehicle performing as intended, and to prevent durability issues from occurring in the future," an FCA spokesperson told Automotive News, and will be available to owners of both the 2014 to 2015 Jeep Cherokee and the 2015 Chrysler 200, which also uses the 9AT. While FCA will be notifying consumers of the update, owners can also request the software reflash if they happen into their dealer before then.

Despite the widely documented problems with the transmission, the only complaints on NHTSA's website relate to the 2014 Cherokee – neither the 2015 Jeep nor the 200 have received any complaints. That bodes well as FCA prepares to begin deliveries of the 2015 Jeep Renegade and launch the Fiat 500X, both of which pair the 9AT with the 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder.

"We have had to do an inordinate amount of intervention on that transmission, surely beyond what any of us had forecast," FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told Automotive News. "There are things that we have done – that we continue to do. Our proactive customer care intervention has actually increased in intensity on these vehicles in 2014, especially in the second half."

What's fascinating about the 9AT's problems are that they haven't been the fault of manufacturer ZF, but have related to software that wasn't "mature" and had "teething problems," Marchionne has said previously, AN reports.

With the lack of criticism for the 9AT in 2015 models and this pending software update, though, here's hoping that FCA has finally figured out its fuel-sipping gearbox.

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