I recently attended a fancy-pants dinner held by Chrysler PR for some Houston-area bloggers. We were wined, dined and introduced to the 2011 Grand Cherokee. While free food and journalistic integrity are a tough combo to swallow, I found something entertaining and inherently blog worthy: the castrated 2011 Ford Explorer is in the new Grand Cherokee’s gunsight. Why? One of the SUV’s most famous nameplates is now a crossover, while another is still an SUV. But neither of them like being called names.
It’s a fair assumption to say that, for the past two years, those buying Explorers are committed to the SUV lifestyle, with loyalty only trumped by fleet buyers of Ford’s Panther chassis. How many of these fans who didn’t jump ship to Ford’s Edge, Flex, Freestyle or Taurus X crossovers are gonna go for their namesake’s new, girly-man reincarnation?
The 2011 Grand Cherokee claims safe haven from the nightmare of crossover ownership. And Chrysler knows it: mentioning the JGC’s off-road friendly removable bumper insert, Cayenne-worthy independent air suspension, Rover-like approach angles, crossover-killing towing prowess and rear wheel drive poise. The original Cherokee proved that body-on-frame isn’t necessary for an SUV, so maybe they are on to something. I might even find out for myself with a PR-sanctioned road test.
Not to mention that this anti-crossover has a HEMI under the hood. Just don’t call it a HEMI, as that goes against Jeep’s (intended) branding orientation. That’s when the conversation went back to the Explorer, and something that journos aren’t supposed to mention: the words “Explorer” and “crossover” in the same sentence. But wait, the Explorer is indeed a crossover. It’s certainly exploring the realm of crossovers. It’s a Ford Five Hundred that explored Dearborn’s parts bin for a crossover-worthy lift kit. Explorer…it’s a crossover.
And the Jeep’s gotta HEMI. Wait, do I hear someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door?
And that’s the question posed to the B&B: is the 2011 Explorer really a crossover, and does that Jeep gotta HEMI?