Armchair Quarterbacking: JEEP.

I’ve not come to terms that Jeep is now owned by the Italians.  Fiat of all things.  Who could have guess that would happen 20 years ago?  Fiat, the makers of cars that break down more often than cars from Jaguar.  Fix It Again, Tony… now has Jeep in it’s pocket.  This is the automotive equivalent of Jennings owning Browning.   It’s an absurd notion… But Fiat made some good moves and positioned themselves to buy Lancia, Alpha, Ferrari, and Maserati… Unbelievable.  Now they own Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.  Boggles the mind.

I think that this is the reason that Jeep is probably the most Bi-Polar of automotive brands.  When one says “Jeep” it invokes a mental image.  One of rugged outdoorsiness.  A majestic warrior off-roading rig perched on a mountain ledge like the Lion King, chin into the wind and looking stoic.

That’s “Jeep”.  That’s what we think about.  We think about taking Jeeps through deserts and mountain trails hunting Orc and Adventure.  And that’s been The Jeep Thing for decades.  But unfortunately Jeep has become this:


The new Jeeps, the Patriot and the Compass are a pair of Dodge’s trying to look butch.


This is Automotive Evolution gone wrong.  While some companies are making better and better vehicles all the time, Jeep is kinda… going the wrong way.   These butch little Mall Hunters are not keeping in the spirit of the brand.  The Identity.  I swear to heaven that I saw “It’s a Jeep thing” on the back of a Compass.  Do you know why?  Because people are forgetting what a Jeep thing is.  This is an utter failure of the Brand.  To keep up with the Lion King train of thought – this is most fitting:

Jeep needs to Remember.  They need to kill off the Compass and the Patriot.  Get rid of these pathetic little Cute-Utes and return to it’s core.   To do this, they need to bring back two vehicles in updated versions.  First.  The Wagoneer.


Jeep has defecated on the Wagoneer badge… Used it like a Trim Package that just put terrible wood patterned vinyl on the sides of Cherokees and Grand Cherokees.  I’m talking about bringing back the real thing in an updated version.  A real honest Wagoneer.  Full sized, no apologies.   Jeep doesn’t think this can work, so they have not done anything of this sort.  But it does work.  And I can prove it as evidenced by exhibits A, B, C, D, E… I could go on, but you get my drift now.   Jeep had that.  A full sized, luxurious, commanding vehicle that could carry people and cargo and tow just about anything that needed towing.    I still see them on the road once in a great while… and they are beautiful.  I had one once… and letting it go was a huge mistake.  It was awesome.  Jeep needs to bring this back.  Do some Retro Styling on it for the sake of Identity, but build it on a RAM 1500 platform.  Body on Frame.  Give it some off roading chops.  And give it three engine options.  The 6.4 liter “392” Hemi for the Petrol Guys.  The 3.0 Liter V-6 EcoDiesel, for those family guys wanting economy and room.  And for those that need to tow heavy things… the 6.7 liter Cummins Diesel.   Give it three Jeep trim levels.  The Limited, the Overland and the Summit in keeping with current Jeep SOP.


And maybe a stripped down version for the Die-Hard off roading Jeep Enthusiasts.  Keep it simple, straight forward, honest and truck-like and guys will cheer and sell their houses to buy it.  Ram does this with a version of the 1500 truck and it sells well to those guys wanting to hotrod it out.

The new “Cherokee“?  I hate it.  It may be a decent all roader and something people are wanting – vehicle class wise.  But come on.  For the love of all that is holy at least make it look like a Jeep.  Make it look like a smaller Grand Cherokee with similar styled lights and grills.   What you have now is alien and disgusting.

Not in a good familiar and hot way.Avatar-bug-eyed-alien-1

You get my point?

The other vehicle you need to bring back… Is one of your pick up trucks.  There was the Comanche and others… and they didn’t sell well, because Jeep was owned by people who didn’t know what they were doing.  But they did make a solid truck.  They just didn’t know how to market it.

1980 Jeep truck

People want Jeep Trucks.  And they are willing to pay for them.  Do you want to know how I know?  See the Brute and tell me people don’t get weak in the knees like that.   You guys tried with the Comanche. But that failed because quite frankly, that was a stupid idea.  Cutting down a unibody into a pickup?  Who’s idea was that?  It was so bad, that your Dealers had to ask you to stop it.  But the Brute shows us something.  The Brute shows us that Gladiator Concept was a good idea.   The problem with the Brute is that it’s expensive as hell.  Too expensive.   As is everything with a Jeep badge these days… but the Brute is just stupid expensive.   You get what I’m saying.  Make the Gladiator and make it simple.  If you did that… Adventurers would be applauding around the world.



22 thoughts on “Armchair Quarterbacking: JEEP.”

  1. Nothing like rolling thru a Jeep dealership and having your wife get violently angry that it is full of soft utes and mall cruisers.
    I think she punched a kitten that day… or a Compass, same thing.


  2. My cousin, who’s a pretty good off-road racer took us out rock-crawling one summer night, onto the slopes of Heavenly Valley in Tahoe – where we were ~NOT~ supposed to be – in my Aunt’s 1980’s-era Grand Wagoneer. Same color etc. as the one in the pic… Surprisingly capable.

  3. Unfortunately Jeep needs to sell those “cute-utes” to meet CAFE regulations. Their entire fleet must meet some bureaucrats convoluted formula of average gas mileage. Everyone else can get away with it because they also sell cars.

    As to the ridiculous premiums Jeep asks to own one of their new vehicles, thank soccer moms. You can’t get a stripped to the bone Wrangler anymore, no base model Cherokee and forget getting a Grand that’s not loaded with options. All three, even at their lowest option level, still have far more crap than you need.

    A Jeep for off-road? You must be kidding. The only thing they build now that is truly capable are variants of the Wrangler. The old Grand Wagoneer, the XJ Cherokee, ZJ/WJ Grand Cherokees and even the lowly Comanche still had live axles front and rear. They had manually shifted 2 speed X-cases and recirculating ball steering.

    What do they offer now? Front and rear independent suspension with little travel. Throw in rack and pinion steering that could never hold up to the forces generated off-roading anywhere but the local mall parking lot. Yeah, they killed the “Jeep thing”.

  4. All this and more are why I have to somehow make my TJ last for the rest of my life… And why I already have a 1970 CJ-5 stored away for my 2 year old son and I to rebuild in a few years.

  5. JEEP = Just Empty Every Pocket. Don’t get me wrong. I love my Cherokee. Both my mechanic and I cringe when my shadow darkens his threshold. If only the new Cherokee had more in common with my 1996 Cherokee than its name might I be inclined to trade up.

    1. You feel the disappointment of almost everyone who has ever owned an Original Cherokee.
      It’s a shame that there isn’t a Mexican Factory still making the original Cherokee like there was one making the original VW Beetle until just 7 years ago or so.. There was a factory in Brazil that only just stopped making the VW Hippy Van.

  6. The problem is insane .gov “safety” regulations have gone far in excess and are based on “continuous improvement” we are now so protected we can’t afford to drive!
    Who looks at an F-150 and cringes at the sticker and the EPA! So I’m driving a Honda FitS.

  7. Agree whole-heartedly except for 1) no “maybe” on the stripped down version and 2) they will never launch a full-size pickup because it will compete with the Ram line.

    There definitely needs to be a stripped down version of everything. Don’t compromise on drivetrain; rather, strip down the interior. Vinyl, drain plugs, and a stereo are all you need. Return the Wrangler to its former status as the AR-15 of the automotive world.

    As to the pickup, the Brute and the Gladiator (the concept vehicle, not the predecessor to the J-series pickups) are really modern Scramblers, which have no competitor anywhere. You could even revive the name.

  8. Ogre –

    Owner of a ’13 jkRub 6spd. I promise you jeep still has some real engineers…..somewhere. I’ve never been more impressed with a stock vehicle ( other than the first time I took an unburdened humvee to the back 40 at ft Carson). It works it’s tail off, with the swaybar disconnect and e-lockers and 290hp its a get’r done vehicle. I pulled a 2500 ram up a 30deg embankment and back onto the highway in 8in of snow. I would only add a Diesel engine, ctis system and bead locks for the ultimate off roader bar none.

    1. Oh I agree… Which is why I didn’t speak of the JK. I love the JK and lust after one.
      But I do think that the JK could benefit from some engine options. The Pentastar V-6 is the best the Wrangler has had. But there is room for some improvement. It could also use a V-8 option. Which is the most common engine swap aftermarket. And of course that Diesel that has been promised.

      1. Meh…. My friend has a JKL, which my brother and I helped him upgrade. The chassis is solid (they fixed some of the TJ’s weak points), but it’s physically larger than the TJ, and the way the electronics run everything leaves me cold. If you are a fatass and can’t fit in a TJ I can see the appeal, but otherwise, no.

  9. So, this thread has got me looking at Jeep’s concept cars. I LOVE the J12 and the Nukizer. I just wish they were made on a truck frame instead of the Wrangler frame.

    On the other hand, have you seen the 2015 Renegade? If Jeep continues on this trajectory, the next jeep (small ‘j’ intentional) will be a Fiat 500 with a slotted grille. My flatfender shakes its head in shame.

  10. Hey! I happen to own a Patriot, and I possess no delusions of what it is or that I can convince you that it isn’t an enormous camel toe that Jeep slapped their name on. So why did I buy it? I was an E3 with student loan debt and acquired a family and the dang thing was cheap, really cheap. Plus I’m not enough of a hippie to buy a Subaru… 140k miles later that includes SC mud, icy CO trails, AZ desert and everything in between, it hasn’t broken on me yet.

    Besides they killed it and the Compass and replaced it with this: Ugh. Don’t worry, a JKu is in my future when I can justify it financially.

    louie the lumberjack

  11. I want my ’77 CJ-5 back. That was a real Jeep. Yeah, rough, no creature comforts beyond a heater, but that thing would go anywhere. That’s what Jeeps are supposed to be. It was lifted 4″ and ran Superswamper 36s with a locker in the rear and had a Ford (yes, Ford) top loader granny gear1st (over 5:1) 4 speed one ton tranny (same bell housing pattern) between the engine and the transfer case. Straight six engine, warmed over with big carb, high flow intake and headers, huge torque. 8,000 lb. Warn on the front. Lots of corner protection diamond plate and undercarriage skid plates. Real off-road lights, not the garbage that pretenders put on their trucks.

    It was beat up, dented, scratched and absolutely reliable. If something broke, you could fix it with a few ordinary had tools you carried with you and some baling wire. It would get you to bad places and get you back.

    That is what Jeeps are supposed to do.

    That was my woods/hunting rig for many years. I miss it and could not possibly find anything like it at a Jeep dealer. Simple is better.

  12. Is that your wagoneer? Looks great. Would you mind telling me wheel and tire size as well as lift?

    1. I HAD a Wagoneer like that, but that one isn’t mine. Also – I don’t remember what wheels and tires it had. Sorry about that.

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