“So, I ordered myself a Jeep.”
“Awesome! What did you end up getting?”
“Loaded Sahara Unlimited, Gecko Green, tan leather, six-speed manual, just like you suggested.”
“Well, that is what I suggested alright… but…”
“I didn’t think you were actually going to do it.”
Back in the day, the Jeep Wrangler was only for serious off-roaders. Posers might visit, but assaulted by the SUV’s sluggish acceleration, clumsy handling, rough noisy ride, and spartan hose-out interior they weren’t likely to stay long (or return after leaving). But Chrysler has worked steadily to eliminate these downsides and render the Wrangler fit for everyday use. Back in 2007 the Wrangler grew in size and became available in extended wheelbase four-door Unlimited form. Last year its interior was substantially upgraded. And this year the unloved 202-horsepower 3.8-liter “minivan” V6 has been replaced by a 285-horsepower DOHC 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6. Meanwhile the chassis has been tweaked repeatedly to improve on-road ride and handling. So, with all of these improvements, is the 2012 Wrangler Unlimited as suitable as any other SUV for running the kids to school and then dropping by CostCo?
Jeep has released the first pictures of its next refreshed product, the 2011 Jeep Wrangler, but the changes don’t exactly jump out. That’s because, besides a new body-color hardtop and five new exterior colors, the changes have all taken place on the inside. You know, where they’re most needed. Have they done the job? Hit the jump for the first peek…
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 4x4-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.
In the past, Jeep’s done it up big for the NAIAS, unveiling wild concepts, driving new production models through plate glass, and the like. This year though, things are a bit tight. Instead of throwing a booze-soaked bash around some miles-from-production concept, Sergio Marchionne is going to lay out some saltines and Tang and let visitors paste some cheap decals he picked up in China on a Wrangler. All this in celebration of Jeep’s first new products in ages: the Unlimited Mountain and Islander edition Wranglers. Featuring the cheapest, most gimmicky-looking graphic decals and upholstery ever foisted upon the buying public (random latitude/longitude readings? really?), these “special” editions need to keep Jeep gasping along until ChryCo can get the suppliers lined up for the new Grand Cherokee. Meanwhile, stand by for more special editions from Chrysler, hinted at in the firm’s five year plan. This is going to get even uglier before the actual Fiat products show up later this year.