The Truth About Cars » Jeep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 28 May 2015 20:00:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Jeep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com FCA US Reducing Powertrain Warranty To 60K Miles For 2016 Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-reducing-powertrain-warranty-to-60k-miles-for-2016-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-reducing-powertrain-warranty-to-60k-miles-for-2016-models/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 19:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077546 Those shopping for a new Charger, 300, Wrangler or 1500 because of the powertrain warranty may need to pull the trigger soon due to an upcoming mileage cut. According to the following statement, FCA US is cutting the warranty down from the current 5-year/100,000-mile guarantee to a new 5-year/60,000-mile term for the 2016 model year, […]

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21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Exterior-007

Those shopping for a new Charger, 300, Wrangler or 1500 because of the powertrain warranty may need to pull the trigger soon due to an upcoming mileage cut.

According to the following statement, FCA US is cutting the warranty down from the current 5-year/100,000-mile guarantee to a new 5-year/60,000-mile term for the 2016 model year, Automotive News reports:

Following changes already made by competitors, FCA US is adjusting powertrain warranty coverage for 2016 model year vehicles to be more consistent with industry practices. For 2016MY, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram Truck vehicles with gasoline engines will be covered by a 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

An FCA representative says the company’s 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty will remain unchanged, while diesels, Alfas and Fiats are not affected by the policy change; Fiat has its own 4-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The move follows General Motors’ decision in March 2015 to cut-down its 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty for its Chevrolet and GMC products to a 5-year/60,000-mile policy.

[Source: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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Jeep Grand Cherokee To Receive Hellcat Power As Trackhawk http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/jeep-grand-cherokee-to-receive-hellcat-power-as-trackhawk/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/jeep-grand-cherokee-to-receive-hellcat-power-as-trackhawk/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 18:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077482 Looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee with more altitude than the Altitude? How does a Hellcat Cherokee sound? By the middle of next year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will hitting showrooms ready to do to Mid-Ohio and Pomona what the Trailhawk does to Moab, Car and Driver reports. Power for the high-performance SUV will […]

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2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude front

Looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee with more altitude than the Altitude? How does a Hellcat Cherokee sound?

By the middle of next year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will hitting showrooms ready to do to Mid-Ohio and Pomona what the Trailhawk does to Moab, Car and Driver reports. Power for the high-performance SUV will come from either a naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi V8 found in the current Grand Cherokee SRT — good for 475 horses — or an optional supercharged Hellcat V8, whose 707 horses and 650 lb-ft of tire-destroying torque could likely take the Trackhawk from nil to 60 in under four seconds.

The Trackhawk could also do away with four-wheel drive, as engineers are facing difficulties blast-proofing the Grand Cherokee’s driveline against the raw power the Hellcat V8 delivers; electronically limiting torque in lower gears is also under consideration.

Price of admission is expected to begin at $65,000, with competition to include the Range Rover Sport SVR, Mercedes ML63 AMG, BMW X5 M, and Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.

[Source: Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars]

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Hammer Time: Halt and Catch Fire Jeep Cherokee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/this-jeep-cherokee-is-a-show-car-that-wont-halt-and-catch-fire/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/this-jeep-cherokee-is-a-show-car-that-wont-halt-and-catch-fire/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 18:25:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076370 “Extras with cars! This way!” A 20-something assistant to someone else’s assistant guides us to where the next shoot will take place. “You! You! And You! We need you for wardrobe!” Me? This can’t be good. My wife and I were already dressed in early 80’s clothes for the upcoming scene since they emailed us […]

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Jeep Cherokee

“Extras with cars! This way!”

A 20-something assistant to someone else’s assistant guides us to where the next shoot will take place.

“You! You! And You! We need you for wardrobe!”

Me? This can’t be good.

My wife and I were already dressed in early 80’s clothes for the upcoming scene since they emailed us the specifics on the night before the shoot.

Our outfits, pretty much a combination of earthly browns and worn out beige, weren’t too hard to find. Any thrift store will do. Here in the Deliverance country that is North Georgia, nobody pays any mind to what you wear, so long as you’re wearing something.

Unfortunately, for Hollywood standards, we’re both old now. She’s forty, and I’m forty-two. Or to put it another way, we’re both really 42 and climbing too damn fast.

Hollywood doesn’t want us. But they do want our Jeep.

Jeep Cherokee

You see this Jeep Cherokee? It’s apparently the Hollywood version of Michael Caine before he became famous. It’s old enough to play in a variety of movies without ever seeming out of place or out of fashion.

’80s, ’90s, or Y2K era, this Jeep even fits the modern day world of 2015. Even though it’s old enough to buy itself a six-pack and light up an unfiitered Camel at the back of my used car lot, it’s young enough to be appealing to those who enjoy all things that are truly American.

AMC and Chrysler made this Jeep forever and, bless em’, the look hit the bullseye of bullseyes – especially when it comes to show business.

Jack Horner on Jurassic Park 3 set

There are two things that make this Jeep such a workaholic when it comes to it’s booking as an extra car.

The first is the color. Forest green is pretty much the perfect color for blending a vehicle into the background of any given scene. Dark greens may be as unfashionable as MC Hammer pants when it comes to today’s new car market. But in movie scenes, forest green offers the right blend in the background without being too bright.

Red, white, black, and zonker yellow tend to be big rolling no-no nadirs when it comes to using cars for a given scene in the movie world. The director wants the actors and plot to take over, not a 40 year old van that looks like a rolling Cheech and Chong pinata. So it’s the blues, the dark greens, and the grays that usually win out.

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The other big plus for this Cherokee is class. What movie studios want wherever they can find them is cars and trucks that were owned by middle-class Americans.

There must be 27 silver diesel Benzes within a 25 mile radius of every movie shoot. Nobody wants ’em anymore. Lincolns and Cadillacs? There are probably more of them running now than 10 years ago when old-school American bling wasn’t yet retro.

Movie studios aren’t looking for these high-end cars on a regular basis. What they do want are Cherokees, old Camrys, pre-sporty Maximas and Malaise era cars that were designed in the unholy automotive era that covered most of the ’70s and ’80s.

Cars more square than Lawrence Welk – the blander the better. That’s what sells in the movie world if you decide to become an extra who furnishes an extra car.

1980 Chrysler LeBaron

The pay for doing essentially nothing with an old car except parking it is surprisingly strong. $100 per day for the car. Sixty-eight dollars for eight hours, plus time and a half for overtime – just enough to make my wife a habitual extra with a thick reading book for the endless hours of waiting.

My wife was also in the movie business for years before settling down for full-time motherhood. Sadly enough, this ‘job’ represents the best combination of good pay and low stress in her entire show business career. The work is more steady as well.

Halt and Catch Fire

We’re now in the third season of Halt & Catch Fire, a popular show on AMC (the channel, not the defunct automaker) where I furnish old cars on a regular basis. Try to imagine the tech world back in the early ’80s, plots that are designed with intelligent souls in mind, and toss in some sci-fi special effects into the mix. It’s a perfect fit for hopelessly geeky folks like me and my wife.

“Hey Susan! Go ahead and park the Jeep over there.”

She does as told, walks back in the shade, and reads her thick book. For a mom with two pubescent kids, this is heaven.

For me, it’s a matter of making money and buying her happiness while selfishly finding a bit of my own. As many of you know, I have a love for old cars that just won’t quit. It may be the late models that pay my bills, but it’s the modern day classics, like the Jeep, that regularly capture my heart.

Jeep Cherokee

A lot of my writing work beyond TTAC now revolves around the idea of helping folks figure out older used cars. That career path has reached a mainstream audience but, in my soul, I’m still that strange guy who finds a deep sense of joy in reviving old beaters. What better way to do that than to cater to an industry that has the means to make that hobby worthwhile. A paid mini-vacation for my wife? I’ll take it!

Show business is now my side business thanks to Hollywood getting cheap and spreading out across the USA. These days, once I finish buying cars at the dealer auctions in the early afternoons, I like to take a break from what used to be a 16 hour work-day and hang out with my wife at a shoot. Sometimes, if it’s at a movie set like this one, we sit for a while underneath a shady tree, look at all the young people using their walkie-talkies, and watch them move props, cameras, and movie equipment for hours on end. We remember being just like them in our own tough jobs. Trying to get ‘established’, whatever the hell that meant, and just how chaotic and difficult our lives seemed to be.

In truth we really weren’t doing much of anything useful except moving things around, big and small, and following the orders of others. We live out our careers where everything is, “Hurry up… and wait!” Just like a movie set, but with people and papers instead of props.

It’s all chaos in slow motion. You solve a crisis that is hopefully suitable for a G-rated sitcom and then, if you’re really smart, you remember to have a shitload of fun before the next unwelcome episode takes place.

When you get older, you also realize careers don’t really matter. Not usually in this life at least. What does matter is that we nourish our souls in the things that bring us true joy and enough unique misery to open our eyes a bit. Kids. Spouses. Friends. Old cars. Whatever makes our boat float as we drift along this long journey.

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Jeep Returns To Tokyo Motor Show After Eight-Year Absence http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/jeep-returns-to-tokyo-motor-show-after-eight-year-absence/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/jeep-returns-to-tokyo-motor-show-after-eight-year-absence/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 20:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073146 The last time the Detroit Three turned up at the Tokyo Motor Show was in 2007. One recession later, Jeep returns to Tokyo to represent the Motor City. Jeep will join Abarth, Alfa Romeo and Fiat on FCA Japan’s stand when the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show kicks off in late October, Automotive News reports. Jeep […]

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2015 Jeep Renegade

The last time the Detroit Three turned up at the Tokyo Motor Show was in 2007. One recession later, Jeep returns to Tokyo to represent the Motor City.

Jeep will join Abarth, Alfa Romeo and Fiat on FCA Japan’s stand when the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show kicks off in late October, Automotive News reports. Jeep will also be sole representative for U.S.-born manufacturers, as Ford, General Motors and Tesla sit out of this year’s festivities.

The off-road brand is currently No. 7 in import sales in the Japanese Domestic Market, having rose 21 percent to 2,298 units between January and April of this year. Though still behind the likes of Mercedes, BMW and MINI, Jeep is outperforming fellow domestic competitors Ford (1,625 units through April 2015), Chevrolet (313) and Cadillac (297).

Jeep’s presence at the show is also a boon for the show’s organizers, seeking to standout against bigger shows across the sea in China; the 2013 edition overlapped the show in Guangzhou, as well as the Los Angeles Auto Show.

[Source: Jeep]

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2018 Jeep Wrangler Not Going Fully Aluminum After All http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2018-jeep-wrangler-not-going-fully-aluminum-after-all/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2018-jeep-wrangler-not-going-fully-aluminum-after-all/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 16:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071514 The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will add diesel and an eight-speed automatic to the mix, but a fully aluminum body is no longer on the agenda. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the upcoming Wrangler would not go the same route as the new Ford F-150, opting instead for specific components — hood, tailgate, doors et al […]

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2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara rear side yellow

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will add diesel and an eight-speed automatic to the mix, but a fully aluminum body is no longer on the agenda.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the upcoming Wrangler would not go the same route as the new Ford F-150, opting instead for specific components — hood, tailgate, doors et al — to be made from the alloy, Automotive News reports. Marchionne said the decision to move away from a fully aluminum model came down to comparison costs, and ease of production:

There will be a large portion of that vehicle that will be aluminum. It will not be all aluminum. We’ve run the numbers and we’ve simulated mileage and the impact. Because of the difference in cost — not just of the material but the actual assembly process — I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum. I think we can get very close.

Were the 2018 Wrangler to have stayed the course, the Jeep facility in Toledo, Ohio would have needed a complete overhaul to manufacture and assemble the vehicle, following a similar action by Ford with the F-150 at its Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich. The Blue Oval invested $843 million to retool the plant and nearby operations, a process taking 10 weeks to undergo; FCA’s new plan would eliminate the need for such action.

[Photo credit: Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars]

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Cherokee, Sweetheart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/cherokee-sweetheart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/cherokee-sweetheart/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 15:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1067874 “When I see a Range Rover on the street, my blood boils, because we should be able to do a thing like that,” quoth the great Sergio, “And we will.” Say what you like about the leadership Chrysler has had since the days of the AMC/Renault Alliance, but with this comment about the need for […]

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gcoverland

“When I see a Range Rover on the street, my blood boils, because we should be able to do a thing like that,” quoth the great Sergio, “And we will.” Say what you like about the leadership Chrysler has had since the days of the AMC/Renault Alliance, but with this comment about the need for a grander Cherokee, if you will, the maximum leader of FCA has shown that he understands the Jeep brand, and its role in America, less than any of his predecessors.


Bloomberg reported on Sergio’s comments at the opening of a Maserati dealership in Toronto last week. At first blush, the man from La Marchionne has a point. There’s a lot of profit to be had in Range Rovers, particularly nowadays. Hard not to look at that money and feel envious. Was it just yesterday that Range Rovers were priced closer to the Mercedes E-Class than the S-Class? And was it just yesterday that you could lease one for $599/month over thirty-six months with a grand out of pocket? Really, tell me it was just yesterday that the Range Rovers for sale in the local showroom came in just one variant, and that variant had been effectively the same vehicle for twenty years.

2016-Land-Rover-Range-Rover-SVAutobiography-106-876x535

No longer. Today’s Range Rover is a thoroughly developed luxury vehicle that bears only a vague resemblance to the country-estate runabouts of the distant English past. The nameplate that once carried noble-born English hounds to the hunt now takes Instagram “models” from the Dubai airport to the penthouses of the sheikhs. If any traditional landed gentry remains in Scotland, France, or the Black Forest, they aren’t buying new SVAutobiography LWB pimp-wagons. The current buyer base for full-sized Range Rovers is all new money, all the time, and unlike their predecessors they don’t pinch pennies or prefer vinyl seats. They have plenty of money.

What they lack, perhaps, is class. As with Aston Martin, Range Rover is in the business of selling some sort of fake Britishness to non-Brits. Those people associate Britishness with class, with social presence, with savoir faire. The people who buy these trucks expect them to convey a certain image, and they want that image to improve theirs. Look at it this way: When Lord Foppington of Stoke-On-Stoke took delivery of a two-door Rangie in ’78, he didn’t expect that people would be impressed by the vehicle. He expected people to be impressed by him. He expected that the prestige of the Range Rover would be lifted by his ownership and operation of one, not the other way around. The Land Rover advertisements of the Eighties and Nineties featured royal and ducal seals to take advantage of those associations. The Queen of England is still the Queen whether or not she gets out of a Range Rover or a Land Rover Series II or a Mini. When people who are not the Queen of England buy a Range Rover, it’s often done with the expectation that the vehicle will speak on their behalf in social situations.

Is there, or was there ever, an American equivalent to Land Rover’s “100-inch wagon”, a nondescript working-class vehicle operated by the upper crust? I think that for many years, the fully-loaded Ford or Chevrolet station wagon filled that role. The 1970 Chevy Kingswood was probably the American counterpart to the 1970 Rangie. It was a family vehicle for affluent families whose social position was utterly secure and therefore in no need of the middle-class status boost that would come from having, say, that new-fangled Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, essentially a Ninety-Eight with a rear door.

1978-jeep-wagoneer

When the station wagon disappeared, the Suburban and full-sized Wagoneer (later Grand Wagoneer) assumed that role, trolling slowly around Martha’s Vineyard and the Outer Banks, dirty and dented and full of picnic baskets. These were vehicles that could belong to that family with the home on the beach or the families of the plumbers and electricians who fixed those homes. They were truly classless, and as a result they were kind of classy because they didn’t attempt to send any particular Veblen message.

In the years that followed, the Wagoneer (later Grand Wagoneer) went out of production, and the Suburban became both oversized and overtly menacing in appearance. The Escalade and Yukon Denali appeared in the marketplace, both of them aimed at people who wanted to spend more money on a Suburban, and the sheer number of these monster trucks on the American road significantly diminished the appeal to the smart set of a full-sized SUV. Suburbans of all badges were much cooler when every soccer mom in Joliet, Illinois didn’t have one, dontcha know.

So what vehicle has assumed the title of America’s Classy Yet Classless Chariot? You know the answer without even thinking hard. It’s the Grand Cherokee. Not only is it a great SUV, it’s arguably the finest American car on sale today. Competent in all aspects, available as a vinyl-seat workhorse or a chrome-lined Overland or a racetrack-munching SRT-8, the Grand Cherokee has something for everyone. At the low end, it doesn’t cost much more than a six-cylinder Camry, while at the high end it rips twelve-second quarter-miles and features exotic interior appointments. While it’s generally obvious where each model sits in the overall hierarchy of Cherokee-dom, there’s nothing obviously poverty-stricken about the Laredo and there’s none of the “Autobiography” crassness to the Overland.

Few vehicles on sale today are as satisfying as the Grand Cherokee, and few of those can point to what is basically an unblemished record of being a good value and a decent ownership proposition since the Nineties. You can find them at Moab and in a country-club parking lot, on the beach at Venice and on the manicured lawns north of New York City. Owning a Grand Cherokee says almost nothing about you. You could be wealthy, or you could be someone in a small house with a decent-ish job. You could be single, or a parent, or a retiree. The appeal of this particular Jeep has virtually no boundaries.

Critical to the Grand Cherokee’s market positioning is the fact that it sits atop the Jeep hierarchy, even though you can spend less on a Laredo 4×2 than you’d pay for a loaded Cherokee or Wrangler. The reason the short-lived Commander was short-lived was twofold: it was a terrible vehicle to operate, and it was tough for people to understand that it was “better” than the GC. Everybody knows that you can spend a fair amount of money on an Overland, but everybody also knows that the prices of the Overland don’t reach into Range Rover ridiculousness. So buying an Overland is acceptable to wealthy Americans who follow the Protestant ethic because it has no superior in the lineup yet it doesn’t bespeak nouveau extravagance.

Adding a “Range Rover” to the Jeep range would alienate the customers for high-end Grand Cherokees, many of whom would be loath to purchase something that, like the RR Autobiography, is described as “very expensive” by its own manufacturers but at the same time would not want to be seen in a vehicle that was “junior” to it in the lineup. It would court the fickle tastes of Russian oligarchs and Arab oil money at the expense of Jeep’s loyal and dependable American customer base. But most of all, it would be an unforgivable slight against the very idea of Jeep.

“Jeep” is a contraction of “General Purpose”, or “GP”. The Jeep idea is that of a vehicle that earns its keep, that is valued for its capabilities, that shares the same work ethic as its customers. To take that name and plaster it on some despicable Lexus LX470 competitor would be a travesty. Such a vehicle wouldn’t be a GP. It would be an SP: a vehicle with the single purpose of demonstrating its owner’s wealth. We should leave stupidity like that to the Indians who own Range Rover, not the Italians who own Jeep. Classless, satisfying, tasteful, capable; the current Grand Cherokee is all of these things. Shouldn’t that be enough?

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While You Were Sleeping: Worthersee GTI Meeting, Gilles Sits at Head of Drawing Table and Jeep Wants to Build a Range Rover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-worthersee-gti-meeting-gilles-sits-at-head-of-drawing-table-and-jeep-wants-to-build-a-range-rover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-worthersee-gti-meeting-gilles-sits-at-head-of-drawing-table-and-jeep-wants-to-build-a-range-rover/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 10:47:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1067962 Our European correspondent, Vojtěch Dobeš, is at the 34th Annual GTI Meeting in Worthersee this week. Hopefully he will have some interesting stories to share if he isn’t too distracted by Austria’s fräuleins. Here’s your news from overnight. Ralph Gilles, the new head of design at FCA (The Detroit News) The former head of now […]

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34th GTI Meeting, Worthersee

Our European correspondent, Vojtěch Dobeš, is at the 34th Annual GTI Meeting in Worthersee this week. Hopefully he will have some interesting stories to share if he isn’t too distracted by Austria’s fräuleins.

Here’s your news from overnight.

[Photo: GTI Treffen am Wörthersee]

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While You Were Sleeping: Jeep GC Pickup Render, Brilliance V3 Debut and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (Or a Lack Thereof) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-jeep-gc-pickup-render-brilliance-v3-debut-jobs-jobs-jobs-lack-thereof/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-jeep-gc-pickup-render-brilliance-v3-debut-jobs-jobs-jobs-lack-thereof/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 10:11:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064017 As trucks ride a heat wave of interest from consumers, I look at this Grand Cherokee render and think, “That’ll do.” Jeep Trailhawk (Theophilus Chin) Self-titled Automotive Manipulator Theophilus Chin has put together a compelling image of a Jeep Grand Cherokee pickup. Exclusive: Honda Australia pensions off Civic diesel (GoAuto) As car enthusiasts scream for diesel […]

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Jeep Trailhawk Truck Render

As trucks ride a heat wave of interest from consumers, I look at this Grand Cherokee render and think, “That’ll do.”

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BREAKING: Worker Crushed To Death At Grand Cherokee, Durango Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/breaking-worker-crushed-death-grand-cherokee-durango-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/breaking-worker-crushed-death-grand-cherokee-durango-plant/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 13:23:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062082 UPDATE: Previous incident at Jefferson North included at bottom. UPDATE 2: Added name of worker and clarified details. A worker was crushed and ultimately succumbed to his injuries this morning at Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango plant. At around 6:30 a.m., 53-year-old Donald Megge, of Sterling Heights, was crushed in a press and declared dead […]

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Jefferson North Assembly Plant

UPDATE: Previous incident at Jefferson North included at bottom.

UPDATE 2: Added name of worker and clarified details.

A worker was crushed and ultimately succumbed to his injuries this morning at Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango plant.

At around 6:30 a.m., 53-year-old Donald Megge, of Sterling Heights, was crushed in a press and declared dead at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit. The accident happened during the day’s first shift, confirmed a FCA spokesperson speaking with CBS affiliate WWJ in Detroit. He was performing preventative maintenance duties at part of the first shift of the day starting at 5:30 a.m.

“A plant employee was killed at the waste water treatment plant. The company is currently working with local officials to investigate the incident. All of the FCA family extends its deepest sympathies to the employee’s family during this difficult time.”

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

This isn’t the first time a death has befallen Jefferson North in recent years. As Automotive News reports, a worker was stabbed by another worker at the plant in 2012 during a dispute over a woman. The attacker later took his own life off-site.

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Fate Of Jeep In Toledo Rests On Supplier Park, Partnerships http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fate-jeep-toledo-rests-supplier-park-partnerships/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fate-jeep-toledo-rests-supplier-park-partnerships/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 11:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043698 The fate of Toledo, Ohio holding onto the Jeep factory may be decided not on incentives or land acquisition, but by what happens with the supplier park. The Detroit News reports the deciding factor on whether Jeep stays in Toledo involves the current business arrangement with the factory’s supplier park. Back in 2006, the park […]

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Jeep Wranglers Coming Down The Line In Toledo

The fate of Toledo, Ohio holding onto the Jeep factory may be decided not on incentives or land acquisition, but by what happens with the supplier park.

The Detroit News reports the deciding factor on whether Jeep stays in Toledo involves the current business arrangement with the factory’s supplier park. Back in 2006, the park came about when FCA US — then DaimlerChrysler — didn’t want to spend too much capital on building the then-new four-door Wrangler Unlimited. Thus, it struck a deal with suppliers Mobis North America and Kuka Systems to build the body and chassis, which would then be handed off to Magna International to be painted, and then onto Jeep for final assembly. FCA US bought the paint operations from Magna in 2012, and may wish to buy the rest of the process from Mobis and Kuka.

In the meantime, city officials have presented FCA US and its CEO Sergio Marchionne with a so-called “aggressive” incentive plan to keep the Wrangler in Toledo, which includes unspecified state and local tax credits and other financial incentives to expand or build a new facility on 100 acres of land purchased and cleaned by the city for over $7 million. The plan was presented in mid-March, and FCA US is expected to make the final decision on Toledo’s fate by June of this year.

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Jeep’s Extraordinary March 2015 Sales Performance Sets Records http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/jeeps-extraordinary-march-2015-sales-performance-sets-records/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/jeeps-extraordinary-march-2015-sales-performance-sets-records/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:22:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039409 Everything was coming up roses for Jeep in March 2015. During a period in which it seemed highly likely that FCA/Chrysler Group would fail to report their 60th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases – five years of growth without a pause – a slight 2% increase across the company’s large number of brands helped […]

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2015 Jeep Renegade redEverything was coming up roses for Jeep in March 2015.

During a period in which it seemed highly likely that FCA/Chrysler Group would fail to report their 60th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases – five years of growth without a pause – a slight 2% increase across the company’s large number of brands helped to propel the U.S. auto industry to a narrow 0.5% year-over-year gain.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US produced the company’s marginal gains despite a 24% drop in sales at Dodge, a 5% decline at Fiat, a 58% plunge in minivan volume, and the first Ram pickup truck decrease since April 2010.

The responsibility for growth was thus placed on commercial vans, a specific passenger car trio, and the high-flying Jeep brand.

FCA currently competes with three different vans targeted at the commercial market: the soon-to-disappear Grand Caravan-based Ram Cargo Van, the full-size Ram ProMaster, and the small Ram ProMaster City. Their combined sales increased by 1481 units, or 76%, to 3428 in March 2015.

FCA USA auto sales chart 2015 Q1The Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart reported best-ever monthly sales for the respective nameplates, and together with the Dodge Challenger doubled the trio’s sales to 34,872 units in March. This counteracted passenger car sales declines from the Chrysler 300, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Charger, Dodge Viper, and the Fiat lineup. (Combined 200/Avenger sales were up 19% in March but fell 5% in the first-quarter of 2015.)

Jeeps, however, were the real difference makers last month. The Cherokee and Patriot posted best-ever sales months, combining for 30,882 sales, a 39% jump compared with March 2014.

Last month also resulted in best-ever March results for the Wrangler and Compass. Year-over-year, that duo’s sales rose 16% to 22,944.

The Grand Cherokee’s March volume was up 5% to 16,815 – the Grand Cherokee is on pace to make 2015 the best year since 2005.

The Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex used to produce Jeep Cherokee in ToledoJeep also began selling the Renegade, which is expected to be a hot ticket in the near future. Only 943 were sold in its abbreviated first month, but inventory levels are rising rapidly. Expect to see a long period of Renegade growth before any levelling off.

Put it all together – the best-ever months for two nameplates, best-ever seasonal sales for two more, growth from the Grand Cherokee, an all-new model – and it’s not difficult to conclude that U.S. Jeep sales were at the highest level ever in March 2015. Not just the highest March level, but the highest level regardless of month.

March 2015 Jeep sales broke the previous brand’s record, set in May 2014, by 1381 units, or 2%. That record was set in a month, which in terms of overall auto industry volume, was 4% larger. Thus, Jeep’s market share last month, 4.6%, was a meaningful improvement compared with the 4.4% from the previous record-setting month.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Georgia Jury Orders Jeep To Pay $150M For Role In 2012 Fatal Accident http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/georgia-jury-orders-jeep-pay-150m-role-2012-fatal-accident/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/georgia-jury-orders-jeep-pay-150m-role-2012-fatal-accident/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 14:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039121 After two weeks of deliberation, a jury in Decatur County, Georgia has found Jeep liable for the 2012 death of a 4-year-old involving a 1999 Grand Cherokee. Reuters reports the decision puts the loss of Remington Walden at Jeep’s feet as a result of the automaker failing to warn consumers of a potential risk for […]

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1999 Grand Cherokee Launch-12

After two weeks of deliberation, a jury in Decatur County, Georgia has found Jeep liable for the 2012 death of a 4-year-old involving a 1999 Grand Cherokee.

Reuters reports the decision puts the loss of Remington Walden at Jeep’s feet as a result of the automaker failing to warn consumers of a potential risk for fire in a rear-end crash due to the positioning of the SUV’s fuel tank. The jury also ordered the brand to pay 99 percent — $150 million — of the damages to the Walden family, with the motorist who rear-ended the vehicle to pay the remaining 1 percent.

The decision follows a 2013 recall by FCA US — then-known as Chrysler Group — of 1993-1998 Grand Cherokees, a customer satisfaction campaign for 1999-2004 models, and a recall of 2002-2007 Libertys over fuel-tank positioning concerns.

FCA representative Michael Palese says the company was disappointed by the outcome — its lawyers putting all of the blame on the driver on the other vehicle — and is considering appealing.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-jeep-wrangler-unlimited-sahara/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-jeep-wrangler-unlimited-sahara/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1026617 In the darkest depths of the Cerberus era, nobody at Chrysler could have predicted how popular the all-new “JK” Jeep Wrangler would be. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the incredible cross-section of people buying the Wrangler. Everyone from suburban parents, white-collar upper management types and my own mother. This, by the way, is a vehicle that still […]

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2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara side yellow

In the darkest depths of the Cerberus era, nobody at Chrysler could have predicted how popular the all-new “JK” Jeep Wrangler would be. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the incredible cross-section of people buying the Wrangler. Everyone from suburban parents, white-collar upper management types and my own mother. This, by the way, is a vehicle that still utilizes a full frame and live axles!

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara front yellow

In my own opinion, the Wrangler’s success comes from several different factors. The most obvious is the availability of the long wheel base Unlimited model, which offers 4 doors and a proper rear seat. Second, the JK and JKU have been significantly improved over the TJ; in addition to a stronger frame and a better body, things like the roof options were greatly improved, while creature comforts like the heater were brought into the modern era. Third, it has been continually improved since its introduction; a new interior in 2011, an all-new engine in 2012, and various features, options, and trims over the years. All of this was done without taking away the Jeepness of it; removable doors, drain plugs, folding windshield, and unmatched off-road capability. Think about it, it has a freakin’ folding windshield! In 2015!

The JK is now in the autumn of its years, but it is as young as the day it was born. It can be configured as a base short soft-top model with steel wheels all the way up to a fifty thousand dollar four-door Rubicon with heated leather seats, Alpine audio, roof liner, climate control, and remote start. You can have half doors or full doors and three different tops in nine different trim levels. Take your pick of a proper six-speed manual or a pretty damn good five-speed automatic. There are catalogs thicker than 1989 phone books filled with accessories. AEV will drop a HEMI V8 and convert one into an awesome pickup truck for you. How much money you got?

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara interior seats trunk

One of my hard-core-ish Jeep buddies (clean TJ with 3” lift, wheeled in summer) said that it’s sacrilegious to have some of these options on a real Jeep and something about Jeeps being built not bought. My other Jeep buddy (fuel-injected ’84 CJ-8 on 33s, wheeled very often) loves how the Wrangler has evolved and would buy one if he had the money. Search any Jeep internet forums and it is evident that people who off-road their Wranglers love them as much as those who haul kids in them. 33s can be stuffed in without a lift kit, 35s with a $200 spacer kit. A winch can be hidden behind the factory bumper, and fenders can replaced for high clearance ones with a few hours of work. The Rubicon comes from the factory with Dana 44 axles, locking diffs, and electronically disconnecting sway bars for increased axle articulation. I don’t understand why idiots risk illegally importing Land Rover Defenders when the Wrangler is just so good.

There is no denying that the Wrangler drives like a truck on the street. It doesn’t like sudden maneuvers but it was not dramatic when I needed to avoid a moron who couldn’t see a huge yellow Jeep in his side mirror. The seating position is high, so look far ahead and drive defensively.  Respect the Wrangler, and it will make a fun daily commuter. Or you can go buy the idiot-proof Grand Cherokee. Highway ride is much less tiresome than it was in older Jeeps but ain’t no Range Rover.

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara interior dash steering wheel

Wranglers are a ton of fun, but they are not for everyone. The doors are small, the front seats lack lumbar support, rear seat backs are near vertical, and the hatch is kind of a pain. Wranglers are loud, tall, bouncy, and thirsty (16 city/21 hwy). None of that really matters, as you have either already stopped reading this or you are busy planning a weekend for the semiannual ritual of hard-top to soft-top swap. It’s a perfectly imperfect vehicle for winter snow and summer sun alike, and in my opinion all enthusiasts should own one in their lives.

The Wrangler starts at around $23,000 and the Unlimited around $27,000. The very Baja Yellow pictured Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, which comes standard with color-matched fenders, power windows and doors locks, and side steps starts at $32,295. The Sahara offers options that may not be available on other models, such as leather heated seats for $1300 and body-colored hard-top for $1895, remote start $495, Alpine audio, which sounds really good considering the fact that it is in a tin can, is $795. The Uconnect system with nav, hard drive, SiriusXM, and a USB port is $1895. Throw in a connectivity package, automatic transmission, and a destination change and you’re looking at $41,515. That is a lot, but it is still a lot cheaper than any beat up Defender 110.

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara rear side yellow

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. His first vehicle was an ’84 CJ-7. One day he met a cute chick who was driving a black TJ with a manual transmission. He married that chick and now they have two kids who love Jeeps, but sadly don’t own a Jeep!

FCA US LLC provided the bright yellow vehicle for the purpose of this review. Seriously, the yellow body with yellow top and yellow fenders is a bit much. I tried to get it muddy but my favorite construction site was fenced off, so I only managed to get it salty. 

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Nissan Qashqai Points The Way For Next Jeep Compass, Patriot http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nissan-qashqai-points-way-next-jeep-compass-patriot/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nissan-qashqai-points-way-next-jeep-compass-patriot/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:15:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028057 With the arrival of the Jeep Renegade, the Compass and Patriot twins – awkwardly slotted above the Renegade in size, but lower in price – are officially overdue for a replacement. The Jeep twins have more in common with the Dodge Caliber than anything else in the brand’s lineup, and will be replaced with a […]

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2014_Nissan_Qashqai_Right_Side

With the arrival of the Jeep Renegade, the Compass and Patriot twins – awkwardly slotted above the Renegade in size, but lower in price – are officially overdue for a replacement. The Jeep twins have more in common with the Dodge Caliber than anything else in the brand’s lineup, and will be replaced with a single, all-new model.

Reports in auto media out of the United Kingdom have talked up the replacement CUV and how it will be positioned against the Nissan Qashqai. Nissan’s CUV, which has been wildly popular in Europe (some even credit it for kicking off the CUV trend on the continent, and rescuing Nissan from irrelevance in that market) has never been sold here, largely because the Rogue made it redundant.

At nearly a foot shorter than the current Rogue, the Qashqai would be awkwardly positioned between the Juke and the Rogue. But in Europe, it’s just right, nestled between those two vehicles in a market where a smaller footprint is actively desired. Since the Qashqai is about the size of a Compass or a Patriot, give or take an inch or two in each dimension, the new CUV will stay close in size to the current Jeep twins. Our Rogue, known as the X-Trail, is considered to be a full size larger, and comes with three row seating. Meanwhile, the Qashqai and its upcoming rival are considered to be the standard size CUV, the same way American buyers consider the Rogue and Cherokee to be an acceptable size.

There will also be a Fiat variant, similar to the shared platform of the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X. Expect a Trail Rated model to accompany the rest of the lineup, which will likely be similar to the rest of the Jeep models, with several trim variants increasing in content and price point. For Jeep, this will be a crucial product. Roughly three quarters of Jeep sales originate in North America, and FCA is keen to increase the brand’s reach in world markets. Currently, the EU makes up about 8 percent of Jeep sales – the replacement for the Compass/CUV will be just as important as the Renegade – and probably more important than the Cherokee – at increasing that figure.

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Jeep Unveils Concepts For Easter Jeep Safari http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/jeep-unveils-concepts-easter-jeep-safari/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/jeep-unveils-concepts-easter-jeep-safari/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 17:21:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025281 The latest crop of Jeep concepts for the Easter Jeep Safari have dropped. My favorite is the Wrangler Africa, which should finally settle the question of whether it’s worth lusting after the Land Rover Defender when we get the Wrangler (my own feeling is “no”, but tell me why I’m wrong. Aside from the 2 […]

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The latest crop of Jeep concepts for the Easter Jeep Safari have dropped. My favorite is the Wrangler Africa, which should finally settle the question of whether it’s worth lusting after the Land Rover Defender when we get the Wrangler (my own feeling is “no”, but tell me why I’m wrong.

Aside from the 2 inch lift and Dana 44 axles, there’s a 2.8L diesel engine under the the hood.

001-2015-easter-jeep-safari-concepts

A close second is the “Chief”, which pays tribute to the 1970’s full-size Jeeps. Like the Africa, it has the lift kit, axles and Fox shocks, along with a 3.6L Pentastar V6.

For me, the combination of a modern chassis and classic looks is hard to surpass. But I’ve also only ever known fuel injection, power brakes and 5-star crash test ratings.

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FCA Axes Chrysler Brand In UK, Sheds Light On New Jeeps http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/fca-axes-chrysler-brand-uk-sheds-light-new-jeeps/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/fca-axes-chrysler-brand-uk-sheds-light-new-jeeps/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:30:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023689 By 2017, the Chrysler brand will no longer be offered in the UK, following a move by parent company FCA to pull Lancia products (largely rebadged Chrysler vehicles) from other European markets. While the Chrysler 300 and Ypsilon supermini never saw much fanfare in Europe, the Chrysler minivans did enjoy a following in Europe throughout […]

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1024px-Lancia_Voyager_2.8_MultiJet_16v_Gold_–_Frontansicht,_10._März_2012,_Düsseldorf

By 2017, the Chrysler brand will no longer be offered in the UK, following a move by parent company FCA to pull Lancia products (largely rebadged Chrysler vehicles) from other European markets.

While the Chrysler 300 and Ypsilon supermini never saw much fanfare in Europe, the Chrysler minivans did enjoy a following in Europe throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, though sales have tanked, down 21 percent from 2013 levels.

But FCA isn’t giving up on Europe for its American brands. The auto maker will be investing money into Jeep as it pushes for the brand to become a global player akin to an American Land Rover. According to Auto Express a Nissan Qashqai rival (presumably the replacement for the Jeep Compass/Patriot) and a full-size Grand Wagoneer are in the cards for introduction within the next three years.

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Next-Gen Jeep Wrangler To Have Diesel, 8-Speed Auto Combo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/next-gen-jeep-wrangler-diesel-8-speed-auto-combo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/next-gen-jeep-wrangler-diesel-8-speed-auto-combo/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1016634 We’ve said the next Jeep Wrangler would have diesel power, as well as an eight-speed auto. Now, both will be paired with each other. Autoblog reports the specific combo is a 3-liter EcoDiesel V6 mated to a ZF eight-speed auto, following similar pairings in the Grand Cherokee and the Ram 1500. When asked for official […]

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2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

We’ve said the next Jeep Wrangler would have diesel power, as well as an eight-speed auto. Now, both will be paired with each other.

Autoblog reports the specific combo is a 3-liter EcoDiesel V6 mated to a ZF eight-speed auto, following similar pairings in the Grand Cherokee and the Ram 1500. When asked for official confirmation from the brand, however, representative Gabrielle Schulte said that her employer does not comment on speculation.

As for when one might be able to battle the Rubicon — or the Rubicon Outlet Mall — in a diesel-driven, eight-speed automatic Wrangler, Autoblog‘s source couldn’t confirm the model year such a beast would appear in showrooms.

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Chart Of The Day: A Decade Of January Market Share Improvement For Winter’s Auto Brands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chart-day-decade-january-market-share-improvement-winters-auto-brands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chart-day-decade-january-market-share-improvement-winters-auto-brands/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 13:17:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009394 Subaru and Jeep are consistently two of America’s fast-growing auto brands. Aided by expanding portfolios and clearly understood branding, Jeep volume jumped 41% in 2014; Subaru sales shot up 21%. Are any two auto brands more easily identified with winter than Subaru and Jeep? As the U.S. auto industry grew 14% in January 2015, Jeep […]

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Jeep Subaru market share chartSubaru and Jeep are consistently two of America’s fast-growing auto brands. Aided by expanding portfolios and clearly understood branding, Jeep volume jumped 41% in 2014; Subaru sales shot up 21%.

Are any two auto brands more easily identified with winter than Subaru and Jeep?

As the U.S. auto industry grew 14% in January 2015, Jeep sales were up 23%; Subaru volume rose 24%. Together, they accounted for 8% of all new vehicle sales in America in the first month of 2015.

Since January may be the most Subaru and Jeep-like month of them all, the accompanying chart showcases their market share improvements in the month of January over the last decade.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Review: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude 4×4 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-jeep-grand-cherokee-altitude-4x4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-jeep-grand-cherokee-altitude-4x4/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008770 The current Grand Cherokee has been a huge success for the Jeep brand. The handsome vehicle is available with four engines, five drivelines, and in many trims, best of which can give the Range Rover a run for its money. The Altitude, introduced for 2014, is an interesting model, where Jeep takes many desirable features, […]

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The current Grand Cherokee has been a huge success for the Jeep brand. The handsome vehicle is available with four engines, five drivelines, and in many trims, best of which can give the Range Rover a run for its money. The Altitude, introduced for 2014, is an interesting model, where Jeep takes many desirable features, wraps them in a monotone exterior with sporty black wheels, and prices the package well.

In the past I have reviewed Grand Cherokees with V8 and diesel engines. The Overland V8 felt like a hot-rod with tons of instant power but the fuel economy was predictably poor. The EcoDiesel is a smooth operator with a ton of torque and great gas mileage, but it comes at a high price. Could this nicely optioned V6 model be the happy medium?

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude front

The Pentastar 3.6-liter generates 290hp, which is more than the hot rod 5.9 Limited did in the late 90s, and 260lb-ft of torque. In this configuration it is mated to a new-for-2014 eight-speed transmission and the base Quadra-Trac I 4WD system with a single-speed transfer case. The EPA rates this combination for 17mpg in the city and 24mph on the highway, with 19mpg combined. Those numbers are very close to the ones I got real world driving, where I averaged about 18mpg with somewhat of a heavy foot around southern Florida.

This engine is surprisingly smooth, quiet, and has plenty of power on tap. Acceleration and highway passing are effortless and it loves to cruise. The transmission has a regular mode, which makes things a little lethargic until you really stomp the gas pedal, and a sport mode which magically quickens the throttle response and changes shift points to where they should really be. There also an evil Eco button which is suppose to save more fuel when engaged but in really it just makes things slower.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude interior details

The Pentastar-powered Grand Cherokees are rated to tow a maximum of 6200lbs. Unless towing is a serious buying objective, or you have a perfectly understandable diesel fetish, there is really is no good reason to select any of the other engines for the basic purposes of getting to work or hauling the kids around. The EcoDiesel and V8-powered Grand Cherokees, including the SRT, are rated to tow up to 7400lbs (7200lbs for 4×4 models).

The black twenty-inch wheels, which are wrapped in 265/50 GoodYear Fortera HL rubber, don’t exactly scream “Trail Rated” but the ride is surprisingly smooth and quiet. A tire’s side profile is the percentage of its width, so despite this being a dub, there is still a good amount meat to absorb potholes. I know a handful of people who own the JGC with twenty-inch wheels and none of them has bent a wheel yet. I reviewed the EcoDiesel Grand Cherokee with similarly sized wheels in the winter and that Jeep got through deep (6″-8″) fresh snow surprisingly well. The Altitude has the base coil-spring suspension with conventional shocks, unlike some other models that have the height adjustable air suspension. Like the V6 engine, for a vast majority of people this setup offers a very nice blend of ride comfort, handling, and payload.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude side profile

The dash is cleanly laid out with the minimum amount of buttons and just the right amount of knobs. The gauge cluster consists of center screen which is configurable in a multitude of ways via steering wheel controls. The seats are comfortable but could use more support overall, and the headrests have a nice tilt feature which can support your neck on long drives without putting you to sleep. The center console has a cubby for your phone with all connections, two cup holders, and a large segregated closed compartment. The rear seats recline and are split 60:40, but don’t have a center pass-thru. The rear window does not pop up like it once used to.

The touchscreen Unconnect is one of the most user-friendly systems on the market, with soft buttons for all major functions and auxiliary audio controls on the back of the steering wheel. If there is a downside, it’s that the heated seats/wheel controls are also hidden in it. The system streams music over every phone app imaginable, including Pandora and IHeartRadio. Your phone can be connected via Bluetooth, USB, or auxiliary input. There is also an SD card slot. The system even has a hotspot (subscription required) to stream music independently of your phone data program.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude other details

The interior is not perfect, however. The visibility is not great and there are blind spots in the back as well as in the front due to a large A-pillar, big side mirrors, and mirror mounts. Being picky, I noticed some wiring and not covered metal body under the seats, visible when you drop something, for instance, and uneven trim around the sunroof when looking from the outside in. The biggest annoyance is the electronic shifter which toggles like a joystick, requiring a look down or at the gauge cluster for gear indication.

The Altitude is priced and positioned between a loaded Laredo and Limited with some options. For $37,095 the Altitude offers SRT-like body-colored claddings, fascia, and grill, glossy black badges, black light trim, and black wheels. Inside are black heated leather and suede seats (the only color choice) and a large 8.4″ Uconnect touch-screen, sans nav. The driver gets a power seat but it lacks the memory feature. Power hatch, 115vAC receptacle, and a remote start round out the Altitude package. Sunroof is $1095 extra, 506-watt audio is $495, back-up camera with sensors is $395, and the destination charge is $995, for a total of $40,075 as seen here.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude wheel

The Altitude has many desirable features and it certainly looks good. It is priced well by skipping the features that the majority of buyers won’t care for, but it lacks some things, such as the roof rack. Some options are not available on it, specifically blind spot detection and the active forward collision warning and crash migration which can literally save your life – those are only available on the loaded Limited and higher models. Other versions of the Grand Cherokee provide some very impressive off-road hardware and/or road performance but no one will buy the Altitude for its power or off-road abilities but rather for the peace of mind and functionality that an all-wheel-drive SUV provides.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude side rear

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. In the past he has owned two Jeeps, a CJ-7 and a TJ Wrangler. His mother just bought a new Wrangler which he may have started modding. 

FCA US LLC provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review while I was thawing out in Florida. 

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Jeep Is Selling More Wranglers Than Ever, Needs Toledo To Build Many More Wranglers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/jeep-selling-wranglers-ever-needs-toledo-build-many-wranglers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/jeep-selling-wranglers-ever-needs-toledo-build-many-wranglers/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 13:32:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002946 After averaging 7500 Wrangler sales in the five Januarys leading up to 2015, Jeep sold 11,683 Wranglers in America last month, a January record for the nameplate. Record-setting figures are nothing new for the Wrangler, of course. Chrysler Group/FCA broke their annual Wrangler one-year-old sales record by 13,833 units in 2013 and then smashed that […]

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2013 Jeep WranglerAfter averaging 7500 Wrangler sales in the five Januarys leading up to 2015, Jeep sold 11,683 Wranglers in America last month, a January record for the nameplate.

Record-setting figures are nothing new for the Wrangler, of course. Chrysler Group/FCA broke their annual Wrangler one-year-old sales record by 13,833 units in 2013 and then smashed that with a 19,826-unit, 13% improvement in the 2014 calendar year.

Year-over-year, the pace of U.S. Wrangler sales expansion is even more impressive of late.
Over the last four months, Wrangler sales are up 17%.

The Wrangler was certainly not unpopular a decade ago, but with a more family-friendly four-door Unlimited now the Wrangler of choice, the jeepiest of Jeeps is now firmly entrenched in the mainstream.

The Wrangler was America’s 18th-best-selling utility vehicle in 2005; the 17th-best-selling in 2006. But with a four-door model, it became the tenth-best-selling SUV/crossover in 2007. It moved up to eighth in 2008, slid back to tenth in 2009, fell out of the top ten in 2010, moved back up to ninth in 2011, eighth in 2012 and 2013, and then claimed the ninth spot in 2014.

The big figure? Over the course of the last 109 months – January 2006 to January 2015 inclusive – 1,067,125 Wranglers were sold in the United States.

More than one million Jeep Wrangler sales in less than a decade.

Yet with growing global demand, FCA boss Sergio Marchionne demands greater production. The Toledo, Ohio, plant where Wranglers are assembled currently has capacity for 240,000 units, according to the Detroit Free Press, and very nearly that many were sold around the world last year.

U.S. Jeep Wrangler sales chartCanadians alone snapped up a record-setting 23,057 Wranglers in 2014 in addition to the 175,328 sold in the U.S.

We’ll know soon enough whether Toledo and FCA can come to an agreement. One thing remains more easily confirmable: every month, Jeep will continue to sell more Wranglers than they did in the same period one year earlier. Year-over-year, U.S. Jeep sales increased in each of the last 16 months.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Next-Gen Jeep Wrangler To Keep Its Solid Axles After All http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/next-gen-jeep-wrangler-keep-solid-axles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/next-gen-jeep-wrangler-keep-solid-axles/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 15:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002122 The next-gen Jeep Wrangler may have aluminum panels and hybrid power, but one more thing is now certain: the iconic vehicle will retain its solid axles. Automotive News reports the Wrangler will receive tweaks to its suspension for improvements in ride comfort and fuel economy, but the floating solid axles will remain to maintain its […]

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The next-gen Jeep Wrangler may have aluminum panels and hybrid power, but one more thing is now certain: the iconic vehicle will retain its solid axles.

Automotive News reports the Wrangler will receive tweaks to its suspension for improvements in ride comfort and fuel economy, but the floating solid axles will remain to maintain its ability to climb hills and rocks among those who actually do hit the Rubicon.

Other features for the upcoming vehicle include an eight-speed auto, fixed windscreen, and body-on-frame construction. Power will likely come from smaller turbocharged units instead of the current 3.6-liter V6, per FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.

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Editorial: Who Needs Quality? Or, the Myth of Brand Loyalty http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-needs-quality-myth-brand-loyalty/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-needs-quality-myth-brand-loyalty/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:24:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989858    Quick question: what was the number one factor in your most recent new vehicle purchase? Was it styling? Performance? Features? Financing? Price? Comfort? Practicality? Or that old stalwart, quality? If you answered in the affirmative to that last suggestion, you’re part of a shrinking bloc. There were a lot of winners in the 2014 […]

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Quick question: what was the number one factor in your most recent new vehicle purchase? Was it styling? Performance? Features? Financing? Price? Comfort? Practicality? Or that old stalwart, quality? If you answered in the affirmative to that last suggestion, you’re part of a shrinking bloc. There were a lot of winners in the 2014 auto sales race, but quality wasn’t one of them.

Consider the top 5 market share-gaining brands in the 2014 calendar year. They were Maserati (up 171%), Jeep (up 41.2%), Ram (up 27.5%), Mitsubishi (up 24.8%), and Subaru (up 21.0%). If we leave out the ultra-luxe niche brands and those purchased exclusively by the brain-eating undead, we have Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Lincoln (up 15.6%), and Audi (up 15.2%). If we re-organize once more and focus on groups with a wide variety of offerings, it’s Subaru at the head of the line, followed by Fiat-Chrysler (up 16.1%), Nissan Motor Group (up 11.1%), Kia (up 8.4%) and Mazda (up 7.7%).  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the results of J.D. Power’s 2014 Initial Quality Study.

jdp-iqs-survey-1

                Hmm, that’s interesting. Of the non-luxury brands that gained the most market share, only Kia beat the industry average for defects per 100 vehicles. Ram tied the average, Nissan slipped below it, and Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Jeep are all slumming it near the bottom. How about J.D. Power’s 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, which looks at the number of problems experienced by owners of 3 year old vehicles in the previous 12 months?

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                Things are looking a little better for Subaru and Mazda now, who both beat the industry average by a statistically meaningless margin. Nissan and Kia slipped below it, and Ram, Mitsubishi and Jeep are again in the basement. So there you have it: 2014’s biggest market share gainers were solidly mediocre to poor in J.D. Power’s quality studies. Of course, there is bound to be an outcry here that J.D. Power can’t possibly represent everyone’s lived experience, and that’s fair. But perusing the likes of TrueDelta and Consumer Reports won’t poke any big holes in J.D. Power’s reports; they’re all more or less the same, with a few minor variances. More importantly, perennial quality mavens Honda and Toyota posted year-over-year sales gains of 1.0% and 5.8%, respectively. For Toyota, it was a solid if uninspiring year buoyed by strong performance at Lexus. For Honda, it was the kind of year that makes upper management start to look around for parachutes. What gives?

In the press release for the Initial Quality Study, there’s this interesting nugget about how vehicle defects impact brand loyalty:

Combined data from previous years’ IQS results and the Power Information Network® (PIN) from J.D. Power show that 57 percent of owners who reported no problems stayed with the same brand when they purchased their next new vehicle. Brand loyalty slips to 53 percent among owners who reported just a single problem and to only 48 percent among owners who reported two or more problems.

So according to J.D. Power, there’s only a 57% chance that owning a car with zero defects will lead to trading in your vehicle for the same make the next time around. If you have two or more problems with it (and keep in mind, we’re not talking about weighting these stats to reflect severity in any way), it slips to 48%. Those two numbers both have something in common: they’re F grades. The popular meme says that those who own ultra-reliable cars will return to dealerships like migrating geese, but the data says otherwise. Billions and billions of dollars spent on quality control, and the customer loyalty reward is little better than a coin flip. The Power data is the most compelling evidence yet that the “there are no bad cars anymore” chestnut has really penetrated the mainstream. If even the owners of the best-made cars are largely up for grabs, then what does that say about the conventional wisdom that quality conquers all?

Even if you don’t believe it, assume for the sake of argument that it’s true that it’s not that difficult to build a reliable car anymore. Even the most problem-plagued models are likely to have faults more of the annoying variety, with serious mechanical failures few and far between. Most consumers will have their expectations of reliability met, unless they get a statistically rare lemon. If’s that’s the case, then how long can quality endure as a selling point? This is analogous to the problem Volvo is facing right now in regards to safety. Safety has been a key selling point for Volvo for decades. But who makes unsafe cars anymore? Safety standards are stringent, and even cheap cars have an increasing number of whiz-bang safety technologies. Take away safety, and suddenly Volvo loses what little distinctiveness it had left. Volvo’s only hope now is to become the Chinese answer to Audi in the United States. Good luck with that.

There is at least one man in the auto industry who firmly understands that quality isn’t the make-or-break proposition it once was: Carlos Ghosn. As the other manufacturers choked on their passenger cars in 2014, Nissan grew sedan sales 15%. Of full-line brands including trucks, only FCA had a better year. All of this came on the back of a brand which, quite frankly, has shrugged its shoulders at quality for most of the last decade and a half. Nissan’s quality record in the United States is mixed, but looking back through the last couple of years of J.D. Power studies tends to support the conclusion that the company has been solidly below average since around the turn of the millennium. Clearly, there is something besides quality that is pulling people into Nissan dealers. Maybe it’s styling. Maybe it’s value for the money. Maybe it’s performance, or fuel efficiency. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter; all that it demonstrates is that it’s possible to build sales success on the back of supposedly subpar quality. FCA’s sales data says much the same thing. Inversely, the recent success of the brands with iffy quality means that Volkswagen’s sales disaster can’t be traced to reliability woes alone. Weak or missing product, poor marketing, and an infamous dealership experience are all more salient factors. Perhaps it’s time to question the value of endlessly harping on quality as the sole determinant of success. Or at least, devise better statistical tools to understand reliability. That last point is especially important, given how automobile technology has changed so much since the introduction of these surveys.

Like safety, quality is rapidly disappearing as an independently marketable category. The days where squishy, bland cars could be counted on to generate sales by virtue of quality alone are numbered. Toyota has certainly realized this, which explains the direction of much of their new product. The racy new Camry and the pseudo-premium flavor the Corolla both speak to a changed mentality. The FR-S is an attempt to bring some pizzazz back to showrooms, and even the “We ain’t got no room for boring” Highlander commercials are an attempt to push back against the brand’s staid image. Then there’s the un-blanding of Lexus, as that brand heads in a more Germanic direction. At Toyota, quality is still a priority, but in the marketing department it’s already taken a back seat to other virtues. And if Toyota won’t rest on quality alone to sell its vehicles, then who will?

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General Motors Discussing Jeep Wrangler Challenger For GMC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/general-motors-discussing-jeep-wrangler-challenger-gmc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/general-motors-discussing-jeep-wrangler-challenger-gmc/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989898 Remember when we told you about GMC’s Duncan Aldred wanting a “professional-grade” Jeep Wrangler? General Motors thinks it’s a good idea, too. The Wall Street Journal reports GM recently sought feedback from its dealers regarding the market viability of a Wrangler challenger joining GMC’s lineup of trucks, crossovers and SUVs, the idea of which has […]

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2015 GMC Sierra

Remember when we told you about GMC’s Duncan Aldred wanting a “professional-grade” Jeep Wrangler? General Motors thinks it’s a good idea, too.

The Wall Street Journal reports GM recently sought feedback from its dealers regarding the market viability of a Wrangler challenger joining GMC’s lineup of trucks, crossovers and SUVs, the idea of which has been “kicked around real hard” according to one insider. The automaker’s growing interest comes as 150,000 units of the iconic vehicle left for the Rubicon or college in 2014, some of them going for as much as $50,000 fresh out of Ohio. The Wrangler also boasts one of the highest resale values around, second only to the Toyota Tacoma in 2015 per Kelley Blue Book.

As for what a GMC Wrangler would look like, GM said its Jeep would take cues from Hummer’s orphaned offerings; Hummer joined Pontiac, Saturn and Saab in the afterlife back in 2009 during the dark days of the Great Recession. The new model — still in the discussion phase without a name or a green light — would also help GMC capitalize on the brand’s own success, with sales rising 11 percent on the backs of the Sierra and Yukon in 2014 to 501,853.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Jeep Renegade http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-jeep-renegade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-jeep-renegade/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987530 When the Jeep Renegade made its official debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, I initially described it as “… a Panda 4×4 dressed up in Carhartt jeans and Red Wing boots.” With a Fiat platform, powertrain and assembly plant, the Renegade isn’t the first CUV to come from the Fiat Chrysler braintrust – but […]

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When the Jeep Renegade made its official debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, I initially described it as “… a Panda 4×4 dressed up in Carhartt jeans and Red Wing boots.”

With a Fiat platform, powertrain and assembly plant, the Renegade isn’t the first CUV to come from the Fiat Chrysler braintrust – but represents the most ambitious attempt to create a global crossover suitable for all markets. And it’s also FCA’s best effort yet.

The Alfa Romeo – excuse, Compact U.S. Wide – platform underpinning the Jeep Cherokee ended up providing the mid-size Jeep with some sub-optimal packaging characteristics, namely inadequate rear seat space and a dearth of cargo room. While I happened to like the controversial styling, the Cherokee’s look polarized many observers. For the Renegade, Jeep has played it safe, with a slab-sided exterior that looks like a “super-deformed” version of a Wrangler Unlimited.

Although the Renegade’s footprint is about the same size as a Nissan Juke or Kia Soul (which FCA had on hand as competitive vehicles), the Renegade is far heavier. While the Juke weighs in on either side of 3,000 lbs depending on spec, the Renegade starts at 3,300 lbs, and can approach 3,500 lbs at its heftiest. And you feel every additional pound behind the wheel.

In a vacuum, it’s not such a bad thing. The extra el-bees lend a substantial feel to the car, which makes it feel like a more solid vehicle than a B-segment crossover that shares a common ancestor with the less-than-stellar Fiat 500L. Half of the drive route consisted of winding, Northern California backroads, which we tackled in a fairly simple 1.4T equipped Latitude FWD model. While the 6-speed Renegade is no speed demon, it felt as lively and responsive as a Nissan Juke – which is a pretty fun vehicle in its own right. The long, EPA-optimized gearing of the 6-speed box means constant shifting between second and third to keep the buzzy little 1.4 motor on the boil, but it only adds to the fun of whipping the boxy little Jeep through switchbacks. The clutch is easy enough to modulate and the shifter is decidedly mid-pack in the “transverse shift quality” sweepstakes.

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Driving the Renegade was such a hoot that I completely forgot to take pictures of the interior. The photo above, borrowed from Auto Express, shows what a well-equipped Renegade looks like on the inside. You will get a smaller version of UConnect, and Cherokee-like HVAC knobs and an electronic parking brake. Lower trim models get a more stripped down version of UConnect, with a less intricate display unit. Both of our demos had light fabric interiors which were quite handsome, especially when paired with the earth tone exterior colors. Avoid the black and heavier hues, lest you be mistaken for a Patriot owner.

The other half of the drive route was set up on an off-road course at California’s Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area. In addition to the 2.4L/9-speed Renegade, we also took out a Soul, a Juke, (both of which had been tested not long ago) and a Buick Encore. And holy hell does the Jeep feel like a porker. Despite handling the twisty roads with aplomb, the weight penalty over the competition (including the 3200 lb Encore) was immediately noticeable when getting out of the AWD 2.4L Renegade. Between the need for a diesel engine, a stout, Trail Rated 4×4 system, five-star crash test ratings on multiple continents and the appropriate “macho” looks, FCA engineers had to juggle numerous competing requirements that conceivably led to the Renegade weighing as much as 200 lbs more than a brand new Honda CR-V. Still it’s hard to wrap your head around such a porky figure for a B-segment CUV.

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While Jeep laid out two different off-road courses for us to test the Renegade Trailhawk on, it’s difficult to evaluate its prowess, namely because I’m a city kid who thinks that a gravel driveway calls for switching into 4WD. With a five-mode selector switch and a first-gear low range (ala the Cherokee Trailhawk), the automatic only Trailhawk version of the Renegade easily handled the rocks and whoops on the Jeep designed course. A more qualified off-road driver is a better source of impartial information. On road, the 9-speed seems to have become a smoother, more civilized gearbox than the frenetic iterations found in other FCA vehicles.

Starting at $17,995 for a bare bones Sport (and we’re talking A/C as an option), the Renegade slots in between the $16,995 Patriot and the $18,995 Compass, which are vastly outdated, less visually appealing both inside and out, and likely unable to match the Renegade’s off-road abilities. But they represent a greater hurdle for the Renegade, even more so than the Juke, the Soul or any of the upcoming compact CUVs from Honda, Mazda and Chevrolet. Just as the qualitatively inferior Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger torpedoed sales of the Dart, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where heavy incentives and a dealer body eager to move the older CUVs could push prospective buyers into a Patriot or Compass – especially if they want an automatic vehicle but don’t want to pony up for the 2.4/9-Speed versions. Assuming the two older vehicles are phased out (or replaced by a single model), volumes in the USA should rise from our initial estimates of between 60,000-70,000 units. FCA didn’t mention a number during their briefings, but that’s our best guess.

In any case, North America is hardly the most important market for the Renegade. China, India, Brazil, Russia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East…these are the locales where the Renegade must really make it happen for Jeep. The B-Segment CUV is the hottest segment in the world market, and the combination of Fiat diesel engines, Jeep styling and brand image and a global manufacturing base will help the Renegade achieve FCA’s long desired push to turn Jeep into a global SUV brand – and a premium one at that. Don’t bet against it.

 

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Jeep Renegade Pricing Leaked, AWD 6-Speed Manual Confirmed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/jeep-renegade-pricing-leaked-awd-6-speed-manual-confirmed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/jeep-renegade-pricing-leaked-awd-6-speed-manual-confirmed/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:01:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987314 Although driving impressions for the Jeep Renegade are still embargoed, pricing has leaked on a third party site, and we can confirm that a 4×4 model with a  6-speed manual will be available – but not on the top trim Trailhawk version. The 1.4T Multiair 4-cylinder turbo engine will be available with a 6-speed manual […]

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Although driving impressions for the Jeep Renegade are still embargoed, pricing has leaked on a third party site, and we can confirm that a 4×4 model with a  6-speed manual will be available – but not on the top trim Trailhawk version.

The 1.4T Multiair 4-cylinder turbo engine will be available with a 6-speed manual exclusively, while the 2.4L Tigershark I4 will come with 9-speed ZF automatic. Both configurations can be had in either FWD or AWD, while the TrailHawk gets an uprated AWD with 20:1 crawl ratio, five different modes and a low range mode in first gear, similar to the Cherokee Trailhawk.

Per the Jeep Renegade Forum:

Sport: $17,995
Latitude: $21,295
Limited: $24,795
Trailhawk: $25,995

4×4 adds $2,000

Our review will go live tomorrow.

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