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Originally produced by Willys-Overland Motors as a light four-wheel-drive car for the US Army and allies during the World War II, the iconic brand is now owned by Chrysler. While more refined than in the past, Jeeps continue the traditional design and off-road capabilities of their predecessors.
Buyers of the first generation KJ Liberty fell into two camps: those who appreciated the trucklet for its off-road, severe weather and towing capabilities; and those who thought it was adorable. Let’s face it: the oh-isn’t-it-darling? brigade made the Liberty a star; they drew it to their collective bosom like a Hollywood starlet clutching the only real friend she ever had (a Chihuahua). The Liberty became one of America’s hottest selling mini-SUVs. As fashion dictates, those days are gone. Upon the redesigned Liberty, dubbed the KK, Chrysler’s cute ute comeback hopes reside. But this time its neither fish nor foul.
Jeep Liberty Review Car Review Rating
Every morning at 4:00 am, I’m woken by an automotive alarm clock. It’s the sound of my neighbor beginning his daily commute, firing-up his 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel Dodge Ram. The oil burner nestling in the pickup’s snout embodies all the characteristics that American car buyers of a certain age associate with Rudolph Diesel’s powerplant. It’s loud, dirty and smelly. Its rattle makes the vehicle vibrate like a cheap motel bed. Is in any wonder Jeep’s website doesn’t go out of its way to advertise the diesel option in its Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland? Yes and no.
Grand Cherokee Overland Diesel Review Car Review Rating
High gasoline prices, foreign wars in oil producing nations and fears of global warming have made fuel efficiency the new patriotism. Yet many Americans reject clown-sized economy cars and suppository shaped CUV’s and minivans. They cling to the outdoorsy lifestyle and the go-anywhere freedom embodied by rough-and-tumble SUV’s. In a second attempt to address these shifting values, Jeep has unveiled the Patriot. It's an SUV for gas conscious Americans! Actually, never mind all that. Please, oh please, just let it be better than the Compass.
We’re sitting in Jeep’s newest Wrangler pointed up a steep hill. Freak December rain has turned the ground into goopy glop. The transmission is in 4-Low, both axles are locked and the front sway-bar has been disconnected. A light tap of the gas slowly but oh-so-steadily begins to motivate our Trail Rated off-roader up the treacherous path. And then… we’re at the top. Huh? Too easy. We circle back down, turn off the lockers, reattach the sway-bar and put the Jeep into two-wheel drive. A moment later we are once again atop the hill. I’m saying it right here: the Wrangler Rubicon is the most capable vehicle ever badged a Jeep.
No vehicle represents America’s can-do spirit as authentically as the Jeep Wrangler. Born from the conflict that defined our Greatest Generation, the Jeep embodied our nation’s core values: simplicity, honesty and never-say-die durability. That was then. Now, not one but two badge engineered CUV’s are dragging the Jeep brand’s hard-core off-road rep through the [ankle deep] mire. Which puts a lot of weight on the ’07 Wrangler Unlimited’s elongated shoulders. Does the new Wrangler have enough talent and gumption to make up for the sins of the sons?
Since Chrysler acquired AMC from Renault in ‘87, the Jeep brand has been the domestic manufacturer’s canary in the coal mine. When Jeep’s done well, Chrysler’s done well. When Jeep’s languished, Chrysler’s tanked. Chrysler’s German masters are not blind to this correlation. Jeep's new corporate parent has shortened product development cycles from decades to six years. And now Doktor Z und ze Boyz are looking to grow DaimlerChrysler by expanding Jeep's model lineup. Does the Compass point the way to a bright future for "America's sports car"?
A certain Mr. E. Ferrari used to refer to Jeep as 'America's only real sports car.' I never fully understood the Italian automaker's claim until I handed the keys to my Cherokee to my SUV-hating girlfriend. As my liver busied itself processing bourbon, she kicked the Jeep's 4.0-liter straight-six into life. Carving through the Silver Lake hills, the Jeep's right-now acceleration, scrappy handling and elevated driving position pleased her almost as much as I did. Enzo was right: Jeeps are a buzz. When DCX lent me the new Jeep Liberty Renegade, I slipped on my steel-toed Wolverines and readied myself for a good 'ole thrash in America's redneck Ferrari.
The model replacing Jeep's venerable Cherokee exchanges the Cherokee's near-perfect two-box design for something that looks like a VW Bug after a visit to Barry Bonds' doctor. Macho dignity is upheld (literally) by the Renegade's seven slot grill and its over-sized, over-compensating wheel arches– attached by marble-sized bolts as garish as diamond teeth. Rock rails and fog lights (disguised to look like KC lamps) reinforce the strong man aesthetic. That said, as I admired the Renegade on my drive, a desperate homemaker walked up and commented, 'That's cute.' Yes, well, the Liberty's UniFrame construction makes it stiffer, lighter and more crashworthy than the body-on-frame construction used by truck-based competitors. So it's still as tough as nails (the metal kind).
You can't blame Jeep for launching a retro-styled seven-seater at a time when dealers' forecourts have become sport utility tar pits. The Dark Lords of DCX pulled the trigger on the Commander when the petrochemical sun was shining, hay was being made and the word "hybrid" applied to orchids, vegetables and farm animals. The logic was sound: build a more commodious SUV to keep fecund followers of Jeep's trail rated trucks within the fold. Something that would also lure lifestylers helming less venerable vehicles. But the execution is inexcusable. Even if Shell V-Power was free, you wouldn't want to waste it on the new Jeep Commander.
Jeep's latest ads ask SUV buyers to believe that the new Grand Cherokee is a pleasure to drive on-road. It's a stunning example of "the big lie" (people are more likely to believe a massive deception than a little one). If there's one thing that the heavily revised Grand Cherokee does badly– like any two-ton SUV– it's handle on-road. The SUV floats alarmingly over dips and crests, shudders disturbingly over bumps and holes, and leans precipitously through the twisties. I'd no sooner blast a Grand Cherokee around a sharp corner than I'd drive an Enzo on the Rubicon.
Ah, the Rubicon. Also known as the McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road, the unpaved trail runs 12 miles through California's rugged High Sierra Mountains. On the official off-roaders' difficulty scale of one to 10, the boulder-strewn, gully-infested Rubicon rates a 24. (As one veteran mud plugger puts it, the only part of a vehicle that's not likely to break on the Con is the radiator cap.) To qualify as "trail rated", a Jeep product must have enough traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and water fording to tackle the Rubicon.