Just a week ago the White House scolded Chrysler for relying too much on gas guzzlers, like the Grand Cherokee.
"This is a very important vehicle for us. It's one of the primary legs of the Chrysler stool," Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau said in response to the criticism. "Customers have told us they want this vehicle and that it's the right size."
The 2011 model is 11 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor, powered by a cleaner and more powerful engine. Still, Chrysler's decision to debut an SUV as its only new car at the New York International Auto Show seems like odd timing to say the least.
On March 30, the Obama administration issued a scathing rejection of the company's survival plan and gave it 30 days to secure a merger with another automaker, most likely Italy's Fiat SpA.
Meanwhile, the Treasury Department says General Motors and Chrysler have launched financing support programs for auto suppliers backed by $5 billion in government funds.
The programs provide government guarantees that money owed to the suppliers by the ailing auto makers will be paid. It's funded by the $700 billion bailout fund.
Treasury spokeswoman Jenni Engebretsen says the programs will restore credit in a sector that employs more than 500,000 people. The department said last month it would provide financial assistance to the auto suppliers.
Besides money from the bailout fund, the government is supporting the auto industry with about $25 billion in loans.