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, 02 Jul 2015 12:00:14 +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 Jeep Points to Map of India, Says Let’s Print More Money Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-points-to-map-of-india-says-lets-print-more-money-here/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-points-to-map-of-india-says-lets-print-more-money-here/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104881 More and more automakers are looking at exotic locales to produce their wares (us Canadians can consider Mexico exotic thanks to its ice-free beaches) as they expand their brands and explore in-roads to untapped markets. For Jeep, that means investing in a shared money-printing press with an unlikely partner: Tata, the parent company of Land Rover. FCA […]

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2015 Jeep Renegade

More and more automakers are looking at exotic locales to produce their wares (us Canadians can consider Mexico exotic thanks to its ice-free beaches) as they expand their brands and explore in-roads to untapped markets.

For Jeep, that means investing in a shared money-printing press with an unlikely partner: Tata, the parent company of Land Rover. FCA will put $280 million USD into joint venture Fiat India Automobiles Private Limited which, since 2007, has solely produced Fiat models.

The investment will “support the production of a new Jeep vehicle and is expected to begin production in the second quarter of 2017,” according to statement released today by FCA. Jeep did not give further details on the new model.

With Sergio Marchionne’s hunger for consolidation, this could be seen as a sign of interest in a more formal arrangement between FCA and India’s Tata, especially when you consider the FCA executive’s desire for a Range Rover-esque model.

“We are pleased that this investment will strengthen FCA presence in India and are confident in the ability of the joint venture to produce world class products like those carrying the legendary Jeep nameplate,” Marchionne said.

This announcement is part of a wider expansion by Jeep into new markets. From The Detroit News:

FCA plans to produce 1.9 million Jeeps by 2018 at 10 plants in six countries: the U.S., Italy, China, Brazil, India and one other yet-to-be-announced country. Two years ago, only 798,000 rolled out of four plants in the United States.

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Is Jeep Carrying The Rest of FCA? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/is-jeep-carrying-the-rest-of-fca/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/is-jeep-carrying-the-rest-of-fca/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 19:41:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1102393 Jeep is looking at global growth upwards of 20 percent this year to 1.2 million units and that’s before the brand truly ramps up in China. Could it be possible Jeep’s success is hiding what ails other brands at the newly-formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles? Jeep is on track to record a best ever year in 2015 […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Jeep is looking at global growth upwards of 20 percent this year to 1.2 million units and that’s before the brand truly ramps up in China.

Could it be possible Jeep’s success is hiding what ails other brands at the newly-formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles?

Jeep is on track to record a best ever year in 2015 in terms of unit sales with many of the brand’s models returning higher profit margins than those at other marques under the FCA umbrella. However, there are still problems reports The Detroit Bureau, like the struggles with where to build Jeep’s next generation Wrangler.

“It’s a very important and very sensitive decision,” stated Michael Manley, president of the Jeep brand.

The utility-lifestyle brand is also running at or near capacity at their plants, just keeping up with demand, all the while being leveraged in order to prop up other brands financially. Money once meant to redesign the Grand Cherokee has been earmarked for Alfa Romeo. This seems to be true for other models at Jeep as well. On top of it all, Sergio Marchionne wants a Range Rover rivaling Jeep to conquest even greater transaction prices. If such a model existed, FCA could use even more cash to fuel development of new and redesigned models at other brands, but it seems Marchionne might be counting his chickens before they hatch as he drives Wrangler-loads of cash to Italy before such a Range Rover-ish model can come to fruition.

At some point, FCA’s Jeep gravy train is going to come to a halt, and dumping money into brands that look to only stroke the ego of FCA executives – instead of just dumping the brands themselves – will result in what Marchionne has been saying is the cardinal sin of the automotive industry: wasted capital.

Maybe the best way to save money, Mr. Marchionne, is the reduce the number of brands emblazoned on those dealer signs.

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Blame Giulia For Jeep Grand Cherokee Redesign Delay http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/blame-giulia-for-jeep-grand-cherokee-redesign-delay/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/blame-giulia-for-jeep-grand-cherokee-redesign-delay/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 14:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101073 The next iteration of the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been delayed to 2018 or 2019 and, according to reports from The Detroit Bureau, it’s all Giulia’s fault. Speaking with reporters at Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Ground during the annual Chrysler Model Preview event, Jeep head honcho Mike Manley stated the brand’s top model won’t be seeing a new […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004

The next iteration of the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been delayed to 2018 or 2019 and, according to reports from The Detroit Bureauit’s all Giulia’s fault.

Speaking with reporters at Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Ground during the annual Chrysler Model Preview event, Jeep head honcho Mike Manley stated the brand’s top model won’t be seeing a new generation for the next three to four years, but that FCA’s merger rumor mill had nothing to do with the delay.

Reports from the other side of the pond may show the real reason for the delay: Alfa Romeo. Supposedly, the money needed to redesign the Grand Cherokee in the near term has been earmarked for the premium Italian marque which needs $5 billion over the next 10 years.

Manley also reiterated, “There will be only one vehicle” when it comes to the Jeep Compass and Patriot, though Jeep has not made a final decision on which will get the axe.

 

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FCA Australia Can’t Locate $8M Worth of Loaned Jeeps http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-australia-cant-locate-8m-worth-of-loaned-jeeps/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-australia-cant-locate-8m-worth-of-loaned-jeeps/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099097 Under the leadership of stellar executives Clyde Campbell and Veronica Johns, FCA Australia loaned out “hundreds” of vehicles, all of which the company would like returned. That’s too bad as FCA doesn’t know exactly where they all are. Australia’s Daily Telegraph (via Automotive News) is reporting that FCA is still trying to find the vehicles […]

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2015-jeep-wrangler

Under the leadership of stellar executives Clyde Campbell and Veronica Johns, FCA Australia loaned out “hundreds” of vehicles, all of which the company would like returned.

That’s too bad as FCA doesn’t know exactly where they all are.

Australia’s Daily Telegraph (via Automotive News) is reporting that FCA is still trying to find the vehicles that were part of the company’s ambassador program, meant to put popular individuals in the seats of their products, valued at $10M AUD ($7.75M USD).

As reported earlier, records on the vehicles are shaky, with many of them given away without anyone at the company tracking their whereabouts.

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HEMI Engine Family Receiving Upgrades To Fuel Economy, Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hemi-engine-family-receiving-upgrades-to-fuel-economy-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hemi-engine-family-receiving-upgrades-to-fuel-economy-power/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 20:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097977 Changes are coming to FCA’s HEMI engine family, ranging from increased fuel economy, to higher horsepower. Though details are scant, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 could receive direct injection to increase its fuel economy, Allpar writes. In turn, the upgrade would be enough to reduce or remove the need for FCA to buy CAFE credits. Meanwhile, […]

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Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine produces 707 ho

Changes are coming to FCA’s HEMI engine family, ranging from increased fuel economy, to higher horsepower.

Though details are scant, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 could receive direct injection to increase its fuel economy, Allpar writes. In turn, the upgrade would be enough to reduce or remove the need for FCA to buy CAFE credits.

Meanwhile, the Hellcat’s development splits two ways. One modification — for the upcoming Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk — would be tuned for greater refinement to better match the character of both SUV and driver, likely leading towards less horsepower under the bonnet.

The second modification is in response to Ford and Shelby bringing to market an engine said to be more powerful than the Hellcat. Thus, for 2017, FCA are looking to push the Hellcat beyond 707 horsepower against the Blue Oval’s twin-turbo 5.0-liter with direct injection and a potential 740-plus horses pushing the 2017 Shelby GT500 down the highway.

Beyond what is known, no models have been discovered as recipients for the upgrades, while said upgrades may not be ready in time for the 2016 model year’s start.

(Photo credit: Dodge)

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FCA Defects from Takata, Finds Solace with TRW for Airbag Inflators http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-defects-from-takata-finds-solace-with-trw-for-airbag-inflators/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-defects-from-takata-finds-solace-with-trw-for-airbag-inflators/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097793 FCA, looking a 4.1 million unit recall in the face thanks to defective Takata airbag inflators, will source replacements from a rival, ZF-owned TRW Automotive. The Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram parent will be the first company to refuse to toe the line. While the announcement has not yet been made official, The Detroit News obtained “copies of the written […]

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FCA US HQ

FCA, looking a 4.1 million unit recall in the face thanks to defective Takata airbag inflators, will source replacements from a rival, ZF-owned TRW Automotive.

The Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram parent will be the first company to refuse to toe the line.

While the announcement has not yet been made official, The Detroit News obtained “copies of the written testimony from the executives ahead of Tuesday’s hearing” before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Scott G. Kunselman, FCA U.S. senior vice president and head of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance, said in written testimony the company is “replacing all driver-side inflators involved in the recall with an alternate and permanent design provided by TRW,” effective June 8.

That does not mean FCA is leaving Takata full stop. The two companies are working together to improve passenger airbag inflators, says the report.

A total of eleven automakers have been affected by the recalls.

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2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Given The Green Flag http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2017-jeep-grand-cherokee-trackhawk-given-the-green-flag/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2017-jeep-grand-cherokee-trackhawk-given-the-green-flag/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 18:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095993 Per inside sources, the green flag has been given for the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, with testing already underway. The Trackhawk — codenamed Project K — is undergoing powertrain testing using 2016 Grand Cherokee bodies, Motor Authority reports. Said powertrain will be none other than the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 found in the Charger […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Per inside sources, the green flag has been given for the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, with testing already underway.

The Trackhawk — codenamed Project K — is undergoing powertrain testing using 2016 Grand Cherokee bodies, Motor Authority reports. Said powertrain will be none other than the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 found in the Charger and Challenger Hellcats, good for 707 horsepower. A ZF eight-speed auto will funnel the raw power to all four corners, with zero to 60 coming in 3 seconds, topping out at 200 mph.

For those whose hearts aren’t hardy enough for the most brutal and metal of all Grand Cherokees, the same sources state the Grand Cherokee SRT would gain a new name and a revised 6.4-liter HEMI V8 set to generated 490 horses.

FCA remains mum on the subject for now, of course.

(Photo credit: Jeep)

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The Last Cheap Four-Seat Convertible Left Is a Jeep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/the-last-cheap-four-seat-convertible-left-is-a-jeep/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/the-last-cheap-four-seat-convertible-left-is-a-jeep/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094609 Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to mourn the loss of the four-seat convertible. We have known for a while that its time was coming. First, they came for the Pontiac G6. Then, they came for the Toyota Solara. Then, they came for the Mitsubishi Eclipse. And when it was time to come for the […]

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2015-jeep-wrangler

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to mourn the loss of the four-seat convertible. We have known for a while that its time was coming. First, they came for the Pontiac G6. Then, they came for the Toyota Solara. Then, they came for the Mitsubishi Eclipse. And when it was time to come for the Chrysler 200, nobody cared, because nobody buys these cars anymore.

But surely some people still buy them. I mean, there are still millions of people out there having midlife crises, looking for the last modicum of driving excitement before they start ranting about how mobile apps are tearing at the fabric of our society. But sadly, the fun is over: there are no reasonably priced four-seat convertibles left.

Yes, I admit, you can still buy the Volkswagen Beetle, if you’re into that kind of thing. But one of the principal selling points of the Solara and the G6 and the 200 was that you didn’t have to get some odd-looking retromobile in order to get a convertible. You were just buying a normal ol’ car, but it happened to have a removable roof. Or, in the case of the enormous Solara, an infield tarp.

You can also still buy the Camaro and the Mustang. But reasonably priced, they are not: the Mustang Convertible starts above thirty grand, and for that money you’re still manually moving your seats. (“It’s a lever right in front,” the Hertz guy will tell you.) The Camaro is even more expensive, and it doesn’t have any more stuff. It also has blind spots the size of New Hampshire.

So what do you do, if you want a four-seater convertible without spending thirty grand? The answer is, you do nothing. You’re screwed. All the normal stuff is cancelled, so you have to either buy a Beetle, pony up for a Camaro or Mustang, or start measuring your garage to see if it can fit a used Solara. The four-seat convertible is dead.

Or is it?

Enter the Jeep Wrangler, which isn’t on any automotive website’s list of modern convertibles even though it is, in fact, a convertible. The Wrangler has everything you need. Un-weird styling. A powerful V6. Reasonable dimensions. And a starting price you can afford: just $24,000 with shipping. This thing is the Chrysler LeBaron of the modern era.

But it’s so much better than a LeBaron, because you can do so much more with it. For example: in a LeBaron, you would only remove the doors when you wanted to get all the water out of the cabin that had leaked in through the convertible top. In the Wrangler, you can pop off the doors whenever you want! Cruising on the beach? Take off the doors! Off-roading? Take off the doors! Driving to your local post office to mail a bag of human waste to your ex? Take off the doors!

And then there’s the off-road capability. Most human beings do not take their four-seat convertibles off-road, because the trail is no place for a four-seat convertible. The Red Robin parking lot is. But with the Wrangler, you don’t HAVE to choose! You can go to Red Robin AND you can hit the trails. You can go to the nail salon AND the mountains. The Wrangler is at home just about anywhere, from the Kappa Sigma parking lot at the University of Alabama to the Kappa Sigma front lawn at the University of Alabama.

So to those of you mourning the loss of the four-seat convertible, may I just say: it ain’t over yet. And the Jeep Wrangler is proof.

Of course, there is one small problem with the Jeep Wrangler. Namely, it isn’t very easy to remove the roof. In a normal car, you just unlatch the roof and you push it down, or you just press a button and it folds right into your trunk, or, in the case of the Solara, you hit a switch, and the FAA gives you airspace clearance, and then you go inside to watch an episode of Friends, and eventually the top is stowed.

But in the Wrangler, it’s a two-person job. One person to loosen the fasteners and the other person to complain about how annoying it is that the roof in a Jeep Wrangler weighs as much as a canoe.

But the simple truth is with all the other decent four-seat convertibles gone, the Wrangler is all we have left. And if you really don’t like the cumbersome top, my suggestion is you buy two Wranglers. One to park in the garage with the roof off. And one to park outside with the roof on. You will still probably end up spending less than one single Volkswagen Eos.

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Please Make a Business Case for Hand Grenade Gear Shifters, Jeep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/please-make-business-case-hand-grenade-gear-shifters-jeep/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/please-make-business-case-hand-grenade-gear-shifters-jeep/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 15:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085961   Jeep has this whole concept car thing figured out. Whereas most manufacturers use concept cars as a glimpse into the near future (or not, See “NSX, Acura”), Jeep makes weird-ass, proof of bad-ass concepts like this Chief, a 2012 “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” Wrangler turned surf-weirdo-baby blue-SUV that goes to show how […]

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The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief" is an homage to the full-size Cherokees of the 1970s.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief” is an homage to the full-size Cherokees of the 1970s.

Jeep has this whole concept car thing figured out.

Whereas most manufacturers use concept cars as a glimpse into the near future (or not, See “NSX, Acura”), Jeep makes weird-ass, proof of bad-ass concepts like this Chief, a 2012 “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” Wrangler turned surf-weirdo-baby blue-SUV that goes to show how much lead Jeep designer Mark Allen has nothing to do all day.

(Allen once told me his job with the Wrangler is done every year when nothing changes and that’s how it should be.)

Part of the package Jeep brings out every year for Easter Jeep Safari, the Chief is a one-off with a 2-inch lift, Dana 44s, Fox shocks and massive BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains with 17-inch slotted mag wheels. It’s an homage to the full-size Cherokee, because the current Cherokee isn’t exactly a direct successor anyway.

The Tiki-style shifter is perhaps the best touch; the “Magnum P.I.” sticker in the back is a close second. The Hawaiian-style seats aren’t entirely awesome.

 

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief" sports a tiki shifter that would be cooler if it were a hand grenade.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief” sports a tiki shifter that would be cooler if it were a hand grenade.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief" is apparently Magnum P.I. approved. Says so right on that sticker.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief” is apparently Magnum P.I. approved. Says so right on that sticker.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief" is apparently Magnum P.I. approved. Says so right on that sticker.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief” is apparently Magnum P.I. approved. Says so right on that sticker.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief," which may or may not come standard with Beach Boys soundtrack.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief,” which may or may not come standard with Beach Boys soundtrack.

The Moab models very rarely make it onto dealer lots — and if they do it’s mostly trims like the Renegade Desert Hawk — but they do offer a tantalizing glimpse ahead.

 

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari Renegade dubbed "Desert Hawk." Because "Desert Fox" was something completely different.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari Renegade dubbed “Desert Hawk.” Because “Desert Fox” was something completely different.

This year’s Wrangler Africa sported a 2.8-liter diesel, something that may or may not make it into the next generation Wrangler. Although Jeep is hedging on whether there is a business case for an oil-burning Wrangler, it’s clear the current 21 mpg fuel economy won’t pass muster in 2017 or beyond. A diesel with an 8-speed could be a tempting solution.

One thing that should be available immediately: dealer installed hand grenade shifter. Awesome.

 

The hand grenade gear shifter on the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Staff Car" should be hitting dealerships soon — I hope.

The hand grenade gear shifter on the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Staff Car” should be hitting dealerships soon — I hope.

These cars are drivable (sometimes barely) and mostly functional, but live very short lives.

Chances are good the concept crop for next year, which is Jeep’s 75th anniversary, are already under construction. It’s possible that Allen is cooking up all kinds of weirdos to take to southern Utah, or that he’ll bring back some of the greatest hits like the Lower Forty.

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2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Meets Moab: A Desert Duel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-jeep-cherokee-trailhawk-meets-moab-desert-duel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-jeep-cherokee-trailhawk-meets-moab-desert-duel/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1086081 Jeeping in Moab isn’t only a neologism — it’s also a tradition. Like most traditions (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) it’s hard to pin when the rites began, why they started, or – most importantly – why they continue. For people who live in and around Moab, Jeeping is a mostly tolerable exercise that pours money into […]

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2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab

Jeeping in Moab isn’t only a neologism — it’s also a tradition. Like most traditions (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) it’s hard to pin when the rites began, why they started, or – most importantly – why they continue. For people who live in and around Moab, Jeeping is a mostly tolerable exercise that pours money into the small, southern Utah town that welcomes more its hikers, bikers and frequent hitchhikers to its two spectacular national parks than any rolling convoy of rock-crawling muscle.

I’m guessing very few people in the town can remember why the first person took a motorized vehicle up a beautiful geological formation and into the sand behind it.

Jeeping is also mildly entertaining for locals, up until the moment someone rolls up the hill in a car that looks like it has very little business being there. Then it becomes wonderfully fascinating for everyone.

As we began to climb, the tourists in Hummers peered over their canopied seats to witness firsthand something they may watch again later on YouTube. Jacked-up Suzukis and Wranglers pulled to the side to let us pass as their drivers looked on in disbelief. Wonderful.

And weird, which is how I felt creeping up on the slick rock and hopelessly male-affirming high-five gauntlet of “Hell’s Revenge,” a trail named far-too manly for something so desperately pretty. I guess calling it “Gorgeous Rock Formation” doesn’t get the same number of high fives.

I could see the looks on their faces at the top: No one brings a new Cherokee up here.

2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab

The miles of winding sand, slick rock and brush is hailed as a beginner’s rite of passage for off-roaders, a necessary challenge before tackling hairy-chested boulders drivers routinely tumble down.

The 2015 Jeep Cherokee, for all its grumblings and detractors, has mostly wriggled its way into the American consciousness, helping Jeep sell more cars last month than ever before (many of them were Wranglers) and finding traction in suburban parking lots all over the U.S.

Moab felt like a frontier the Cherokee should finally conquer, albeit carefully.

(Jeep brought a steady stream of international journalists to Moab to taste firsthand how an American icon crawls up another American icon. Most of the assembled foreign journalists were unaware, when it was announced, the Cherokee went over like a proverbial turd with hardcore Jeep fans — or, you know, the type of people who take their Jeeps to Moab — in the states screaming all the while. I wanted to find out if that fuss was entirely accurate. Also, there’s probably uncomfortably close-up footage of me eating salmon on Korean TV.)

A personal note: I learned how to drive in a 1984 Jeep Cherokee when I was 13 years old. The four-speed, two-door Cherokee had less power than a UN resolution and its plaid seats reeked of stale cigarettes and sweat. The driver’s seat was also broken, which made stamping the clutch impossible. I loved it.

To be fair, we weren’t exactly driving 1986 Toyota Camrys down “Fins and Things” (another famously tricky spot out in the desert). These were stock Cherokee Trailhawks, which are supposed to be tough, ready to crawl and conquer anything, and wear shirts without sleeves – or something. Jeff Hammoud, who is a Jeep design manager, talked us through the approach and departure angles of the Trailhawk (29.9 and 32.2 degrees, respectively) that translated to most of us as: “If you can see it, try it.”

2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab

The Trailhawks given to us were 3.2-liter V6 specimens with 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque, which are splendid smaller-bore versions of Chrysler’s Swiss Army engine, their Pentastar V6. What differentiates the Trailhawk from other models – aside from the bright red tow hooks that look like nerdy suspenders – are the unique front and rear fascias aggressively cut back toward the wheels for better climbing angles, a 1-inch factory lift, locking rear differential (that we used exactly once) and marvelous 17-inch Firestone Destination A/T shoes that could take more torture than the entire SEAL Team Six. Those are wonderful tires.

Of course, beyond the Cherokee’s aero-friendly looks, detractors have pointed to the impossibly complicated 9-speed automatic transmission as reason enough to never buy a new Jeep again. The busy 948TE ZF box, which has been called here “as calm as Robin Williams,” has stumbled out of the gate — and that’s putting it kindly. The question on my mind was whether the box could get out of the way fast enough and let me get to banging on the Trailhawk’s skid plates.

At least, I hoped that thud was a skid plate.

Through two days and a couple hundred miles of more punishment than any vehicle should be asked to handle, the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk soaked up horrendous heat and pounds of dust to deliver us from one postcard setting to another. With the A/C blasting, ventilated seats prohibiting pervasive, smelly man-ass from staining the cabin (and our souls) and satellite radio piping in Ed Lover, I quickly discovered this is how every explorer should traverse the desert from now on.

IMG_1051

I was reminded Jeep offers the Cherokee Trailhawk with a smaller engine – a 2.4-liter four – that I would have liked to try on the trail, but we didn’t drive those. Flogging that engine through dusty roads and up small mountains would have sent me 20 years into the past, diving through the back roads of Montana with my dad in the Bathroom Beige Jeep, which I lovingly dubbed “The Heep.”

For nearly $40,000, the Cherokee should be able to at least meet expectations — which aren’t high for most people — but the Trailhawk exceeded mine. Yes, Jeep Jamboree staff meticulously handled the trails, and the lines over technical areas were clearer than a desert sunrise, but the Cherokee can crawl over seriously tricky stuff with or without help. No, really. It can.

And the Cherokee’s only significant flaw out here wasn’t its 9-speed transmission — off-roading with low-range selected keeps it in low gears all the time, and that’s just fine — but rather its electric power rack.

After the first day, our Cherokee developed a sick front suspension (my best guess was an out-of-whack lower control arm or something, I’m not much of a wrench) that sounded like hell but drove just fine. Absolutely none of the suspension’s trauma came through the steering wheel, which led me to believe we could have completely lost the wheel and never been the wiser. It’s hard to believe the new generation Wrangler could have the same rack, but I sincerely hope not.

2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab

After two days and 14 hours of hard banging, scraping and scrambling up slick rock, we exited the trails and passed a supreme Wrangler Unlimited with an LS3 swap up front, a child seat in the rear and out-of-state plates. The woman driving, who looked to be in her late 50s, stared at our train of foreign journalists driving roughly 20 Cherokees down the red rock like a Labrador retriever stares a ceiling fan.

No one brings a new Cherokee up here, I could read on her face.

Well, they can. And I think that’s the point.

2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab

2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab 2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab

 

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Chart Of The Day: Here’s How Jeep Reported An All-Time Monthly U.S. Sales Record In May 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-heres-jeep-reported-time-monthly-u-s-sales-record-may-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-heres-jeep-reported-time-monthly-u-s-sales-record-may-2015/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084785 Four out of every ten new vehicles sold in May 2015 in the United States by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were Jeeps, ten years after Jeep accounted for just 20% of Chrysler Group’s U.S. sales. The automaker’s 4% year-over-year improvement was powered in large part by Jeep’s 13% gain. FCA volume improved by 8,000 units despite […]

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USA Jeep May 2015 sales chart

Four out of every ten new vehicles sold in May 2015 in the United States by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were Jeeps, ten years after Jeep accounted for just 20% of Chrysler Group’s U.S. sales.

The automaker’s 4% year-over-year improvement was powered in large part by Jeep’s 13% gain. FCA volume improved by 8,000 units despite a 58% decrease in minivan volume. How’d they do it?

FCA’s midsize car volume more than doubled, Ram sales rose 12% (including an 8% pickup improvement), and Jeep volume jumped 13% to an all-time high of 79,652 U.S. sales with nearly across-the-board increases.

That 13% Jeep jump represents a 9,449 unit increase for the brand, helped along by the Wrangler’s own all-time monthly record (and an increase of 3,089 sales compared with May 2014), another all-time record from the Cherokee, and improved Grand Cherokee and Patriot sales.

The Renegade contributed, too, with 4,416 May sales. Since March, 9,573 Renegades have been sold in America. Yet even without the Renegade, Jeep sales in May still broke the previous record set in April, and the record set before that, in March.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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2019 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Possibly Set For Dealer Show Reveal In Vegas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2019-jeep-grand-wagoneer-possibly-set-for-dealer-show-reveal-in-vegas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2019-jeep-grand-wagoneer-possibly-set-for-dealer-show-reveal-in-vegas/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 15:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1087545 Jeep dealers heading out to Vegas for the brand’s biennial show in August may have a grand surprise waiting: the 2019 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The revived nameplate will grace an SUV set to be the most expensive Jeep-branded SUV ever, according to Automotive News, and is aimed at those customers who normally shop for high-end […]

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1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Circa September 2008

Jeep dealers heading out to Vegas for the brand’s biennial show in August may have a grand surprise waiting: the 2019 Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

The revived nameplate will grace an SUV set to be the most expensive Jeep-branded SUV ever, according to Automotive News, and is aimed at those customers who normally shop for high-end SUVs from Range Rover, Porsche and BMW.

The speculated Vegas debut also contradicts FCA’s recent announcement of delaying key models to reduce overall investment into the products, which include the Grand Wagoneer and its platform sibling, the Grand Cherokee. The two SUVs were scheduled to hit showrooms in the fall of 2017 and 2018, but the introduction of the Grand Cherokee may be delayed up to a year, while the Grand Wagoneer may miss its own deadline, as well.

The previous Grand Wagoneer left the assembly line for the last time in 1991, having been in production relatively unchanged since 1962, aside from numerous facelifts and other necessary adaptations for the time.

[Photo credit: ericncindy24/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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Ssangyong Planning Jeep Wrangler Rival For US Market Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/ssangyong-planning-jeep-wrangler-rival-for-us-market-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/ssangyong-planning-jeep-wrangler-rival-for-us-market-debut/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 15:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083513 Mahindra & Mahindra’s Ssangyong is looking to enter the U.S. market, with a planned rival to the Jeep Wrangler leading the charge. The Wrangler fighter would be based upon the recently introduced Tivoli compact crossover while styling would be greatly influenced by the Ssangyong Korando, a vehicle whose life began as a licensed Jeep CJ-7 […]

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Ssangyong_Tivoli

Mahindra & Mahindra’s Ssangyong is looking to enter the U.S. market, with a planned rival to the Jeep Wrangler leading the charge.

The Wrangler fighter would be based upon the recently introduced Tivoli compact crossover while styling would be greatly influenced by the Ssangyong Korando, a vehicle whose life began as a licensed Jeep CJ-7 clone, Autocar reports. Power for the proposed model would also come from the Tivoli, which includes 1.6-liter gasoline and diesel engines, as well as an EV variant.

Ssangyong’s first entry into the U.S. market follows years of avoiding said market due to the huge investment it would have needed to make in order to build models aimed at attracting American consumers, per one company source:

The company has never cracked North America because it requires a huge investment, and because the distributor model that we use in other territories wouldn’t really work in the USA. But a Wrangler-style high-design 4×4 could create the waves we’d need in order to make a mark over there. At the same time, it’d work really well for us in the UK and Europe at a time when building profile is absolutely key.

The Tivoli-based model would follow the long-wheelbase version of the Tivoli set for 2016, and would be produced alongside the crossover.

[Photo credit: Minseong Kim/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0]

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FCA Delaying Dozen Model Introductions, Redesigns Across Product Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-delaying-dozen-model-introductions-redesigns-across-product-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-delaying-dozen-model-introductions-redesigns-across-product-range/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 16:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1082089 Suppliers close to FCA and its plans say production for a dozen new and redesigned models have been delayed, including key Jeep and Ram offerings. While high-margin products like the Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Ram 1500 wait for their redesigns, Alfa Romeo may be the only brand in FCA’s portfolio to receive its awaited […]

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2015 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition

Suppliers close to FCA and its plans say production for a dozen new and redesigned models have been delayed, including key Jeep and Ram offerings.

While high-margin products like the Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Ram 1500 wait for their redesigns, Alfa Romeo may be the only brand in FCA’s portfolio to receive its awaited models much sooner than planned, Reuters reports.

The suppliers stated a number of reasons behind the delays, including last-minute design and engineering changes, especially those whose changes could reduce the automaker’s overall investment in its products in the short-term as CEO Sergio Marchionne continues seeking a partner for consolidation. FCA held a net debt of €8.6 billion ($9.6 billion USD) at the end of Q1 2015, while cash and marketable securities fell €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) over the same period.

Despite the automaker’s focus on updating its most profitable models, redesigns of said models are being pushed back. The redesigned Ram 1500 was to hit production by the middle of 2017, but the suppliers say the pickup will begin its trip down the line in November 2017. Meanwhile, the Jeep Wrangler is set for a July 2017 introduction instead of earlier in the year, the Grand Cherokee may be delayed by as much as a year from its autumn 2017 launch, and the Grand Wagoneer — which is expected to share its underpinnings with the Grand Cherokee — may not make its autumn 2018 production date.

Other models to see delays in introduction or redesign include: a Jeep compact crossover to replace the Patriot/Compass siblings (pushed back six months from spring 2016); Dodge Dart and Journey (full redesign set for 2019-2020); Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger (new designs to now come in 2019 or later); and Chrysler full-size and mid-size crossovers (postponed/shelved from 2017 and 2018 introductions).

[Photo credit: Jeep]

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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.

94ba94e08bcd1db95b18790bc7e8fb55

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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