Last year, the Chrysler Corporation exhibits at the Detroit Auto Show were just plain sad. There were no new product offerings, and the only “Concept Vehicle” didn’t even have a name. The whole thing reminded me of a funeral. This year’s show could not have been more different. The atmosphere was upbeat and almost every vehicle on display was either all new or significantly updated.
The crown jewel in the Chrysler display was the all new Jeep Grand Cherokee (photo 1) and its sister vehicle the Dodge Durango (photo 2). So far, every review that I’ve seen has had nothing but praise for both vehicles. That’s really not such a surprise since the basic platform that both vehicles ride on is essentially the same platform as the new Mercedes M-Series vehicles. This vehicle was in the “pipeline” before Mercedes and Chrysler separated in 2007 and benefits from the engineering expertise of Mercedes and Chrysler as well as Fiat, the new owner of the Chrysler brand.
I had the one shown in this article for three days and had an absolute ball with it. The only negative impression that I got while driving it was from a very sour looking guy in a tiny “Smart Car” in the other lane at the drive-up teller at my bank. If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be here to write this article. I wonder what he would have thought if he knew that both his vehicle and the one that I was in were engineered by the same company?
“Keyless Go” Ignition
The new Grand Cherokee and Durango both come standard with the new “Keyless Go” system. This system uses a proximity transponder system that allows the user to lock and unlock the doors as well as to start and drive the vehicle without ever having to take the fob out of their pocket or purse.
The heart of the system is a new FOBIK (Photo 3) that is virtually identical visually to the older FOBIK with the exception of this cryptic symbol (Photo 4) on the tip of the device. So far, I have not found out what the symbol stands for other than it is an identifier of a FOBIK with proximity capabilities. Some locksmiths have already started referring to this new FOBIK as a “Type-2” Fobik, but to the best of my knowledge, Chrysler just refers to it as the “Keyless Go” Fobik.
I found the Keyless Go system to be a very clever way of introducing new technology with virtually no learning curve for new users. The system can be used just like the older FOBIK system if the owner chooses, or the owner can choose to use the new features if he or she wants. Even the installation of the pushbutton start is left up to the owner.
When the vehicle is delivered, the pushbutton module for the ignition (Photo 5) is packaged in a plastic bag inside the glove compartment. At the time of delivery, the new owner is supposed to be briefed on its usage so he or she can decide whether to use a pushbutton ignition. The pushbutton module snaps easily into and out of the ignition assembly without the use of any tools other than your fingertips. Photo 6 shows the pushbutton module about to be inserted, and photo 7 shows the dash after the pushbutton has been inserted. Once installed, the user can start and stop the engine by pushing the button as long as a correctly programmed FOBIK is in range of the system. As a safety measure, the user must also have the brake pedal depressed before the vehicle can be started.
If the user chooses not to use the pushbutton, the vehicle is started in the normal fashion by inserting the FOBIK into the socket in the dash and then turning it like a key. Like other FOBIK vehicles, a FOBIK Hybrid key, sometimes known as a “Pod-Key” such as the one shown in photo 8, can be programmed into the vehicle if desired, assuming that you have the proper equipment and software.
Since my vehicle was a rental, it did not have the pushbutton module installed. (It was “hidden” in the spare tire compartment along with the owner’s manual.) I quickly learned that I could press in on the center of the FOBIK socket with my finger to start the car as long as I had the FOBIK in the vehicle and my foot on the brake. Being a practical joker at heart, I had great fun with my friends with this trick!
GM models such as the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, GMC Terrain plus Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Camaro use similar locks and can be serviced in the same manner.
These new Strattec high-security 2-track locks are intended to become the standard lock system for future GM vehicles.