Tag Archives: Jeep

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.
Jeep_King

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:

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

WTF?

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-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.

Jeep_Wagoneer_Lifted

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.

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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.

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Jeep Noob

One morning recently I was on my KTM 525 MXC sitting just below the trail head to “SUPER SECRET TRAINING LOCATION 2″.  To get to SSTL2, you pop off Highway 121 where there is a narrow looking trail going up rather steeply to the top of the hill.  It looks daunting, but it’s really no problem.
I was sitting there adjusting my neck strap and gloves after having to stop to take a cellular call when a Jeep Wrangler Safari pulled up.  It hurt my eyes it was so shiny new.  The driver and his girl (smokin hot redhead) were wondering if they could make it up that trail as it looked too narrow, so they asked me if I thought they could make it up.
I told them it was plenty wide enough if they take it easy.  I explained how I used to go up it all the time in my Chevy 2500.  The driver… the boy… was unconvinced.
At this point a pair of Ford F-350’s came down the trail.  The second truck was pulling a trailer with a Bobcat on it.
I looked back at the boy, winked at the girl, flipped my visor down, and took off down the highway.  A mile later I looked back.  There was the Jeep.  The boy didn’t sack up and try it.

Top SUV’s

As I said before, I have a Top 3 list of SUV’s.  I’ve studied the current market in detail, and compared all the vehicles in this segment.  I’ve dismissed the Cross-Utes out of hand as they are not true SUV’s.  This does not mean that I’ve dismisses a Unibody construction, but vehicles bases on car platforms and then swollen into a taller hatchback.   So here is my top 3, but not in any specific order.

Number 3:  The Toyota 4Runner.
2012-Toyota-4Runner-Trail-Front-Angle

This is one of the last true Truck based SUV’s in it’s class.  This is a real Body On Frame rig here, and that gives it some some advantages over the rest.  Towing, off roading, and otherwise not being ever mistaken for a Girly-Ute.  Just look at it… It looks pissed.
4.0 Liter V-6, 270 Horses, room for 5, and rolling 17 City/ 21 Highway.
While the 4Runner is under powered, it’s high degree of off roading chops give it an advantage.  But it loses points for not being made in the US when Toyota is making other vehicles here.

Number 2.  Dodge Durango.
2012_dodge_durango

The new Durangos look awesome.  Aggressiveness personified.  A lot of the stuff under the skin is actually Mercedes developed.  This gives it some advantage over the older Durangos.  In fact, the new Durango shares nothing more than the name with the older rigs.  These are now unibody rigs, which is not a bad thing.  Dont call them a cross-ute though, as the platform is shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  In fact, they are coming out of the same factory.  Unlike the JGC, the Durango doesn’t pretend to be an Off-Road Warrior.   These are build for streets, with occasional Soft-Roads.  Most SUV’s live on pavement only anyways.   I didn’t pay the new Durangos any mind because of this… at first.  Then I saw one in person.  A local LEO friend drives one now, and It is 100% Bad Ass.  His is the R/T version.  I really love the looks.  It makes me question just how often I would go off road… the answer is probably more than the Durango would be comfortable with.

Number 1.  Jeep Grand Cherokee
2012-Jeep-Grand-Cherokee

The new JGC is that guy you always hated… You know that guy, the one that is good looking with the trophy wife and everything always falls into place for him and he always wins everything… that guy.  The JGC is that guy in automotive form.  It does everything pretty damn well, and it looks great.  The V6 version does good on gas too, for a vehicle in this class.  The V-8 version can tow 7400 pounds…. enough to pull a Senator’s arrogance.  And it can off-road very well.  Not really Moab rock-crawling, but you can easily go trail exploring.  The SRT version though, it goes around taking lunch money from sports cars… sports cars built in Italy.  But the one I like the best is the upcoming diesel variant.  That gives you over 700 miles range per tank.  That’s amazing to me.  The only problem I have with it, is I like the looks of it the least.  And there are a million of them around town.

All three have solid good points.  All three have downsides… well… except for the JGC.  I’m still trying to find actual faults.

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.