TTAC has a new project car and it’s a beauty. Thanks to my dad who volunteered to drive from Austin to San Jose, I’m now the proud second owner of a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with 151,500 miles on the clock. If you’ve been following us on Facebook, then you might have guessed this project would involve a Jeep, but up till now I have kept the depth of the planned Jeep perversion secret. What I’ll be attempting over the next few months might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done: converting a perfectly good unibody SUV into a “pickup.” Say what?
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the Jeep Patriot was the Cherokee reincarnated; the last utilitarian Jeep with solid axles, four doors and a real back seat. Instead, this boxy “baby Jeep” is the most unlikely offspring of the Chrysler/Mitsubishi alliance that gave birth the “plastastic” Caliber and the Compass (aka the Lady Jeep). Unlikely how? Because the Patriot is as attractive as the Caliber is ungainly. (Read More…)
Having re-birthed themselves at the taxpayers’ expense, one of Chrysler’s top priorities is restoring the brand equity that has bled out since the Daimler takeover. First up was the move to spin “Ram” off as its own brand, and now it seems that no-one is safe from “re-birth,” as UPI.com reports that Chrysler are rethinking their strongest brand, Jeep. Unfortunately, one man’s brand rebirth is another man’s brand betrayal. Chrysler want to replace all of Jeep’s products, except for the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, and the idea is to utilise Fiat’s experience of fuel efficient engines as the basis for it. That means Jeep is likely to become smaller, more fuel-efficient and less off-road capable [rumors of a Fiat Panda 4×4-based Jeep (rendered above) date back to the earliest days of the Fiat-Chrysler alliance]. If you had to boil the proposed shift into a single word, UPI figures it would be “soft.” And the markets have reacted to this news in pretty much the same way you’ve probably just reacted: they think the idea is bad. Very bad.