Editor’s Note: Yes, yes, I know there weren’t many reader submissions posted this week — but fear not! We are working our way through the wave of emails. Thank you all for sharing. Next up: Justin Hughes of RightFootDown.com wringing every last horsepower possible out of a rental Compass. Enjoy! —Mark
What do you do with a car that wants so badly to be an off-road vehicle, but can’t actually go off-road?
Take it to a rally.
On Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne will update investors on his long-term plans and fourth-quarter profits — namely, how many Jeeps it sold — during his scheduled earnings conference call.
It’s widely expected that Sergio will address the near-certainty that Jeep will build a pickup based on the Wrangler, as well as the future for the Jeep Compass that’ll likely survive from the Patriot/Compass twin billing, and Jeep’s potential to keep afloat fledgling FCA brands such as Maserati and Alfa Romeo.
Analysts say FCA’s ambitious target of $5 billion profit by 2018 would be almost unattainable at this point.
“‘Ambitious’ is not really an adequate word to describe it, ‘fantasyland’ might be more appropriate,” Bernstein’s Max Warburton told Automotive News.
If you didn’t know it was Jeep’s 75th anniversary this year, it’s your fault for not paying attention. Pretty much all of the automaker’s SUVs are rolling billboards for its “Since 1941” branding, and now Jeep is officially doing something to celebrate.
Jeep launched its 75th Anniversary lineup Wednesday, which includes special editions for all its models. All of the Jeeps are candied in some sort of “macho” green — Jungle Green, Sarge Green or Recon Green — with bronze wheels, some sort of opening roof, and available cloth.
Oh, and there are a bucket-full of badges everywhere so you can feel special edition too.
In something of an ironic twist for an off-road brand, Jeep has had trouble figuring out which path to take lately. Jeep was late to the soft-roader party last decade, and got off to an “interesting” start when a focus group (allegedly) indicated the need for a Patriot to appeal to men and a Compass for the ladies. Most companies would have simply picked one, but the temptation to attract female shoppers to an overtly masculine brand proved too strong and Jeep decided to make both. The result is a product line that offers two similarly-priced and similarly-capable vehicles. This might have been a passable set of circumstances, had the Compass not been saddled with both a cartoonish exterior and interior plastics that even Rubbermaid would have rejected. Instead, the Compass became a symbol of how lost the go-anywhere brand had become. But after a Fiat-led makeover, an updated 2011 Compass is making a bid to rescue Jeep’s small CUV reputation… is it up to the task?