A New Take on the Faithful Cherokee Six

0603PiperF

0603PiperF

In a move designed to capture what Piper believes is an attractive niche market, the company recently unveiled a pair of upgraded six-place fixed-gear PA-32s. The airplanes' new names pay homage to their Cherokee Six origins. The 6X is powered by a 300-horsepower normally aspirated Lycoming IO-540, and the 6XT is turbocharged.

The airplanes, said Piper head Chuck Suma, are designed to function as "entry-level sport utility vehicles," and the base prices of the airplanes, $336,000 and $356,000, respectively, are designed to compete with some popular four-place airplanes.

Standard equipment includes a Garmin GNS 430 navigator, audio panel, Mode C transponder and a Garmin audio panel. Piper has not yet determined the pricing for a range of upgrades that include air conditioning, premium leather interior and an avionics package with dual Garmin navigators.

Aficionados of the early Cherokee Sixes will appreciate the simplicity of the 6X and 6XT, mostly for the weight savings they bring. The useful loads are impressive. The 6X can haul a whopping 1,440 pounds, and the 6XT can carry 1,335-both figures are for standard-equipped models.

Both models seat six, with the rear four seats in the club configuration. The two farthest rear seats feature a quick-release mechanism, to allow owners to remove them.

Despite the fixed landing gear, the cruising speeds of both new Sixes are impressive: 150 knots for the 6X and 155 knots for the 6XL.

Piper expects to start delivering both new models later this summer.