What the hell is wrong with Jeep?

Due to a couple comments by my Father, and seeing a few running around town, I’ve been thinking about Jeeps a lot lately.  So I wandered over to Jeep’s official brochureware site to take a look at the line up.

Jeep doesn’t have one.

Jeep makes the WRANGLER, which is a stand alone icon of the brand.  And then they make two others with two other slightly smaller versions.  This isn’t a Line Up of Vehicles, this is a dramatic lack of imagination and vision for the Jeep brand.

You have the Jeep Liberty, and it’s slightly smaller twin the Patriot.  Then you have the Grand Cherokee and the little brother “Compass”.  None of these vehicles are explained.  It’s up to you to figure out what they are for.  I’ve owned a couple Jeeps.  A regular Cherokee (Jeep XJ) and a full sized old Wagoneer with an Earth Gobbling V-8 engine that loved to overheat and explode.  Very different vehicles that needed no explanation.  With these new Jeeps, at best I can come up with is that these are for His and Hers kits.
I enjoyed our old Cherokee XJ.  We drove that rig to hell and back and most everything under the hood was worked on by Yours Truly until my mechanical prowess no longer was enough.
“Huh, hitting it with this rock didn’t fix it this time.”
I miss that old Cherokee.  It had Character.  It was unique.  It started out as a 4X4, then I put in a 4 inch lift and then broke the transfer case so it was only a 4X2… but that didn’t stop it.  It was still a mountain goat.  What a great little truck.  You never questioned what it was… it was a Jeep.
Since that time, Jeep has come out with some odd ones… the original Jeep Liberty from 10 years or so ago, looked like a Wrangler and a Grand Cherokee did the Naughty and this little Baby thing crawled out… Like a hard top Wrangler, squished and rounded.  I test drove one, with a Diesel Engine.  I hated it.  Not because it’s engine was truly guttless and just felt tired… but because the rig felt like it wanted to fall over.  On it’s face.  Especially under braking.  I was grabbing on to things because I thought the Liberty was going to do a forward somersault.
Evidently the Liberty is the Spiritual Successor to the Cherokee XJ.  It’s grown up from the little baby Jeep it was, into a more well rounded, and by that I mean Squared off and Squared Away Jeep.    But then you have the Patriot, the smaller version of the Liberty that looks exactly the same, but you just parked it a little further away.  The Patriot must also be a step child, being build on the same factory line that builds the Dodge Caliber, but it doesn’t get any of the Dodge Caliber’s Machoness.  (Not that there was enough to share)
Okay, the Grand Cherokee… I like them well enough.  There is the base version, the more comfortable version, and the “I don’t want it to get dirty” version.  For Grins, there is the Evil Twin version that they call the SRT8.  I have no problem with that, but where is the serious Off Road Oriented version?  Where is the Grand Cherokee with the Lift and the bigger knobbier tires and the Lockers?  A Grand Cherokee Rubicon if you will.  Where is that version?   Don’t talk to me about the TRAIL RATED sticker when the damn thing has 20 inch polished wheels and Street Tires.
Then there is the Compass.  WTF?  “I wanted the Grand Cherokee, but not so Grand.  How about a Trial Size?”  This is a Patriot with a different face on it.   It might look like a little Grand Cherokee, but it even has the same engine options as the Patriot.  I don’t care if you have one and like it… it’s useless.  You could have had the Patriot and at least got a little more room inside.  This isn’t a Ute of any sort… Not a Sport Utility, not a Cross over, it’s just a Car.  (spit after reading the word “Car”)  Jeep branding on a Car.  That’s just freaking sad.  Do you know what they made on the line before the Compass?  The Dodge Neon.

Jeep needs to bring back the Gladiator and the Scrambler.  Actual Jeeps crossed with Trucks.  Don’t think that would sell?   AEV builds the Brute for 100 thousand dollars, and they sell every one they build.  Why the hell can’t Jeep build this?



Even though the Jeep company has lost its vision and purpose almost entirely, I’d still love one. A Rubicon Unlimited… a real Jeep. And if I was going to get one, I’d have to get one before they are built in China. Jeep was once a proud American icon. And it could be again, if the Brand was to stay in the US and pull it’s head out.

23 thoughts on “What the hell is wrong with Jeep?”

  1. We bought a 2006 Jeep Commander. We took it everywhere off road. During elk hunting season, we used it for hunting and had snow coming over the hood, and never got stuck. In fact, our hunting party wanted to video our trips because they could not believe where we took our Jeep. It had 2nd and 3rd row theater seating and the front seats allowed full leg room for my 6ft3in tall husband. Adults with rifles, coats and backpacks sat in the middle seat very comfortably. Every time we took it in for an oil change, the employees were shocked to see that it had been off road. Our answer was always, “of course we take it off road. It is a Jeep.” Just recently we had to trade it in due to a reduction in our income and we needed better gas mileage. Our Jeep averaged 14mpg. If we could have managed to get better gas mileage, we would never have traded it in. This was our 3rd Jeep, in a row . At one time, my extended family boasted 4 Jeep Cherokees. We had the 1990 Jeep Cherokee, which we loved. Then a 2004 Jeep Liberty. It was cute and worked great until our kids got to tall to sit in the back seat. Then the Commander. Unfortunately, not everyone was in love with the Commander like we were and it has now been discontinued.

  2. I have a 2012 Unlimited on 35 and I love it. The Fiat motor really does a great job on the road and Mercedes did a lot for the interior.

  3. They’re obviously adapting the Jeep line to prepare for the electric models until Al Gore has his way and they become pedal powered.

  4. I’ve got a 2012 Wrangler Sport and I love it. Everything the common man needs to go broke and get the hell out of town.

  5. Jeep has been going down hill sense they were rolled in with Dodge/Chrysler. They let them have some identity, put shitty engines and running gear in most. Now with Daimler/ Mercedes in charge they will be the next Pontiac. Sorry to say it but, put Dana 60s under them and a GM small block in them and then they work good.

  6. I want one of those 4 door AEV Brutes pretty bad. I wish they had built it on the TJ instead of the JK, but they have to use what is currently available, since trying to source used rigs would be a nightmare.

    I will grant Michael that some of the running gear has been shitty (although one must note that the design for the YJ wrangler was basically finalized before Chrysler entered the picture), but the Jeep engines have always been fine. Going from the 4.0 straight six to the 3.7 chrysler minivan engine was a step in the wrong direction, that is only now being remedied with the introduction of the Pentastar. And the 4.7L V-8 that’s in my wife’s Commander is a great engine, that needs to be available in the Wrangler. AFAIK, that started out as a Jeep division engine, regardless of what rigs are using it now.

    And the running gear has gotten consistently better under Chrysler. AMC designed the YJ with the crummy Peugot transmission and wimpy model 35 rear axle. Chrysler ditched that tranny after only a couple years, and they brought back the Dana 44 as an option with the TJ. The main weakness of the NP231 transfer case is the slip yoke rear output, which is really only a problem with modified off-road rigs, and not too difficult to address with a fixed output kit.

  7. I thought that the Jeeps that are going to be built in China were for the China/Asia market.
    They aren’t really going to try to sell them here to Americans, are they?


  8. Google “Jeepster” and “Commando” if you don’t think Jeep should produce a car.

    But regarding what the hell is wrong with Jeep… I miss inline sixes and solid axles. They’re getting way too urbanized and cute-ute to last much longer. They built their reputation on rugged off-road performance and they’re going to destroy that by making the vehicles unsuited to, well, off-road performance.

    I’ve owned four Jeeps, a ’79 Cherokee, an ’85 J10, an ’86 Grand Wagoneer and a ’94 YJ. I felt comfortable taking any one of them offroad and beating the brakes off of them, know that they can probably handle it and come back home just fine. The newer cute-utes are more suitable to making it through snowy intersections than they are real four-wheeling or mudding.

    1. I know exactly what a Commando is. My brother in law had one and I drove it for awhile. I wouldn’t call them cars.
      Take a very basic truck… strip out everything that could possibly be comfortable… and then bolt in chairs from a DMV office, and that’s a Commando.

    2. I agree with too urbanized and cutesified, unfortunately that is happening with most pickups now also. Try to find a rubber floor, roll up windows, and a standard with cruise control. Or a diesel with any more than one of those options. Back to Jeep, are they putting parts in the aftermarket? I know Dodge didn’t, a $60 headlight switch made me say, no more of this crap. Toyota parts are cheaper and a whole lot less necessary. 85 Four Runner is one of the best “Jeeps” ever made.

      1. I’ve been foaming at the mouth for a diesel Wrangler for years. Canada and Mejico get them, why can’t we?! Damn EPA…

        I’m with you. I like dirt simple trucks that you can clean out with a fire hose. The more complicated stuff gets, the more likely it is to break.

        I usually use internet wholesalers or a local auto parts place if I need replacement parts for a Jeep. A few exceptions include the four point harnesses and aluminum radiator. I can’t remember the last time I replaced anything on a Jeep with a real OEM part, unless you count swapping in a junkyard engine or transmission.

        1. I do like cruise control for the 1000 mile each way trip, to see the in-laws, and work on the wife’s rental property, but other than that I want it simple. I have loved diesel for a lot of years prob sense my dad brought home his Toyota diesel. I have looked at all the damn good vehicles sold all over the world, except in the US, that are diesel. A friend out bid me on a 80’s Isuzu truck, and another just retired his diesel Luv truck. I wish that the diesel motorcycles, and ATVs were not so stinking expensive…

  9. The problem with Jeep is they are a part of Chrysler. Chrysler won’t let them build a pick up truck because it might hurt the sale of the RAM trucks. Jeep is currently unable to meet the demand for the Wrangler with their current production line so good luck getting them to take on new designs and projects. The world car philosophy might work for some brands but its a bad fit for Jeep.

  10. George, CryCo bought Jeep. Any other questions? Geoff Who has had two Dodges to WAY TOO MANY PROBLEMS with CryCo.

    1. Dodge =/= Jeep. My TJ was a direct factory order, I’ve been driving it since October of 2000, and it just turned 119,000 miles the other day. Most of the problems I have had with it are directly attributable to hard use off road, or the 60 mile, lane and a half gravel road that I drive at high speed regularly during the summer. I’ve had a couple radios die due to dust ingestion. I’ve replaced the radiator twice and probably will again this year (neither “heavy duty” aftermarket unit has lasted as long as the OEM radiator did). The steering box probably died because the hydraulic winch has first dibs on the pump’s output. Lost the rear hardtop window once because a rock bounced off the trailer I was towing down the gravel road and hit it. Other than that, just normal wear, and the occasional switch, bulb, or sensor.

      The bottom line with Jeeps is if you play, you will pay. If you just drive them on the street and treat them like a car, they are as trouble free as anything. But take them off the road, and you will eventually break stuff. That is true of any vehicle. A lady I work with has a real clean, stock LJ Rubicon. She drives it and puts gas in it; she hasn’t had to do anything else to it from what she said. When she gets tired of it, I may try to buy it off her for the extra space over my TJ.

      A friend of mine has a JK Unlimited… He loves it, but I don’t like it at all (and he hates my TJ). The JK is wider than the TJ, which is great if you are a bat fastard (like my friend), but I’m not and the TJ/LJ fits me fine. And on the TJ, the computer runs the engine, and that’s pretty much it. On the JK, the computer has its fingers in just about everything. No thanks.

  11. RE: the Jeep in that photo.

    I got two words for you George: HELL YEAH!!!

    Back in the day I owned a pretty nice little CJ-7 with all the perks, finally sold it off from having nowhere to enjoy it around here since they closed the Trinity River bottoms between Dallas and Fort Worth. All we had left were a couple of MX parks. F that.

    I still miss Ol’ Yeller. That thing was a stress reliever that got me and a couple of my close buds through some trying times in our lives.

  12. The biggest problem in American mobility is “Consumer Reports” TM (and they MEAN it!)
    They demand 4x4s which act like cars for “safety” reasons. Cross reference the Suzuki Samari.
    I would have bought one, but the local Suzi dealers tacked on a $2K “Fair Market Adjustment” because the hard tops were selling so well. Let’s face facts folks, a “real” Jeep is only needed in certain areas of the country, Boardman NM comes to mind, the western parts of route 66 and side roads. Parts of Utah.
    Who tries to drive and buy by common sense, my car is a Honda Fit S, in the flat land of North Florida.

  13. Is it worth buying a 2008 jeep patriot for 5000.00 with just over 110,000 mi ? New transmission and all new wheels.

    1. I’d probably shy away…. Because within 110,000 miles it already needed a new Transmission. For 5,000 you could probably find something a bit more rugged. That said though if you dig that Patriot – have a mechanic check it out and see if it’s worth your money.

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