By on May 14, 2015

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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180 Comments on “Cherokee, Sweetheart...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    If Sergio wants to work on something, he may want to figure out what to do with the Fiat brand in the US. This market isn’t really all that hot for tiny stylish coupes, especially those with poor reliability scores.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Does Fiat have a future? He may have better luck selling Jeeps in Europe than Fiats anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        @CJinSD Fiat has been a joke for as long as I can remember.

        And the joke went something like this:

        Q. What does FIAT stand for?

        A. Fix It Again, Tony.

        Used to try to help an old friend keep her ancient Fiat starting with regularity (an almost Herculean task). As a former owner of both British cars and British bikes, my initial impression was that somehow Lucas Electrics had managed to rebrand all of its old hardware, and unload it onto Fiat.

        It was the first vehicle I ever worked on where I spent more time with my hands on a VOMeter than on a wrench, and that includes three or four years of owning a used Jag, and a half a decade of owning a Norton.

        Never understood how wiring that was less than ten years old could look like it came off a first century Roman grain ship.

        And with the exception of reading about the occasional Abarth that was professionally maintained for racing, I have never heard the word reliability mentioned in the same paragraph with Fiat.

        It would be like trying to revive a fifty year dead zombie, I’m afraid. Fiat’s future will in all likelihood be a repeat of Fiat’s past. That, or it must become a totally new thing, from design through engineering, through production, marketing, dealerships, mechanic and service department training and support…sort of like a 100% transplant, with no trace whatsoever of any of the old Fiat DNA.

        If a Fiat is your guilty pleasure, I’m sorry for dissing your secret dream, but the marque has never been anything but a very limited racing heritage very loosely linked to a terrible decades long run of vehicles held together by duct tape, electrical tape, and access to stores of replacement parts.

        If I had one in my driveway, I’d have it towed away and walk, before putting my rear end in one, and taking a chance it would go up in flames.

        Only the VW Type 4 was a more scarily (mis-)engineered car, in all my years of experience.

        And I can’t remember ever hearing of one with 100K miles on it, though I’m sure having said this, that someone will come out of the woodwork with one that is thirty years old, garage kept and has 128K on it. :-)

        Then again, there may be a few of the two hundred some countries in the world where they haven’t heard of Fiat and its reputation yet. That would be good for at least a few thousand sales annually for a few years, perhaps. Though I’m fairly certain NGO’s would pop up to try to block such a move.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I had a 124 Sport Spider. One time the voltage regulator decided to stop regulating. I took the cover off and inside it did indeed look like some sort of 19th century device. It may have had moving parts. When I put the cover back on, it started working again, which it did until the a front control arm mount broke a few hundred miles later.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          As someone who owned a VW Type 4, I both take offense and concur with what you wrote.

          After 15 years of having a VW in the family that one vehicle turned us all of VW’s.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            I have mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, @Arther Dailey I once worked for a Mercedes-Volkswagen dealer. Our air conditioning mechanic was just barely five feet tall, perfect for doing a/c work on VW’s.

            And as I’m sure you know, good mechanics could and would beat flat rate hours, consistently.

            Randy would consistently top the garage of over a dozen mechanics, clocking upwards of seventy billable hours a week, and some weeks as high as into the nineties, in a standard five day, nine hours a day, including our cherished Friday long lunches.

            A 411 came into the shop, with a frayed a/c belt, while still in warranty. The service manager gave Randy the job. Its flatrate time was in excess of eleven hours! Had to pull the engine and partially drop the transmission in order to R&R the belt.

            And as good as Randy was, it took him a couple of hours OVER the flat rate the first time.

            People who bought them were bringing them in, trying to trade them, before they had owned them a year.

            One of the other problems was that the battery was under the driver’s seat, which had an all metal underframe.

            This feature, pardon the horrible joke, sparked some interesting conversations between type 4 owners and service personnel.

            The “official” fix was to cut a piece of plywood to fit over the battery. And with nothing to hold it in place, you can imagine how well that worked, and for how long.

            To place this all in context, the first Toyota dealer had arrived in town just a year or two earlier. And it was about the same time that the Super Beetle was introduced, and it had a real problem with front end wobble at highway speeds, which didn’t endear it to loyal repeat Beetle buyers.

            And Toyota, very cleverly, introduced models that faced off nicely against VW offerings, only in every case with just a little more hp, a little better handling, a little better mileage…something or things that were just a bit better than the VW similar model.

            You can imagine how foreign car sales numbers started evolving.

            I felt bad for the mechanics who had double digit years in working on VW’s, though more than one followed our former service manager over to the Toyota dealership. I probably would have too, only I decided it was time to go back to college, this time to study for real.

            You had lots of company in your family’s conversion from loyal VW customers to former repeat VW customers.

            And in my mid-twenties, I was on my fourth or fifth VW when I left. I sold my VW bus before I got my bachelor’s degree, and except for two new Rabbits, a carbed 76 and a diesel 82, I have never wanted to dabble in them again. The Rabbits were nice cars, but too little too late for VW. Years later VW has had some real successes, but not before they dug themselves a deep hole that they had to dig themselves out of. And even then, they would turn out a great driving experience, only to dump a turkey into the showroom on the next try.

            The Type 4 was a nicely styled improvement over the squarebacks and fastbacks, but why it never got the kind of raking over the coals that the Corvair got, completely eluded me then, and still does to this day.

        • 0 avatar
          Joss

          Sell Fiat to Google.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          “If a Fiat is your guilty pleasure, I’m sorry for dissing your secret dream, but the marque has never been anything but a very limited racing heritage very loosely linked to a terrible decades long run of vehicles held together by duct tape, electrical tape, and access to stores of replacement parts.”

          That’s a surprisingly moronic and uninformed opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            I’m sure there are more than a couple of people who had good experiences with Fiats in SCCA races and rallies, but I have never known the owner of a Fiat as a daily driver who hasn’t had multiple and costly repairs, if they had them for any length of time, coupled with some weird problem or problems difficult to diagnose and/or repair, which continued to plague them.

            And again, although I am sure that there are some somewhere, I have never even heard of anyone who owned a Fiat who couldn’t wait to rush right out and buy a newer one.

            Maybe that is not true in some part of this country, in another country, or in another universe, but what I have said is what I have seen, over and over.

            The ones that were just finicky were the better ones.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Volando:

            Consider this. I drive a Fiat 500 as a daily driver and have yet to take the car in for anything other than oil changes. It’s quick, agile and remarkably economical for the type of driving I do–almost never getting less than 30mpg in mixed driving and achieving over 42mpg on the open highway. Yes, hilly country does affect it, but even with its automatic transmission, manual override helps me to get the best economy out of it where lazy drivers complain about its “hunting gears”. It consistently surprises drivers around me who expect it to be slow and weak. Then again, I’m also not afraid to let it wind up the revs. It redlines over 7k RPM.

            I like it so much, that I’m seriously looking at buying a Jeep Renegade to replace my ’08 Wrangler, which is quite weak by comparison (the 500 simply runs away from it on the road). I still need the 4×4 capability and the Renegade has demonstrated enough capability to meet my needs, which are for traction in mud and snow, not for hooning around in the rocks. Though I admit I love being able to pop all the windows out and simply enjoy cruising in mild and warm weather. On the other hand, 22mpg average highway (for me–EPA rated 19) compared to the Renegade’s rated 30 (which means I should get 32-34 pretty easily) makes the Renegade a more economical choice while still being a fun vehicle.

            Then again, if the RAM 700 or something similar were to come along, the Renegade would probably drop to second choice.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            “I’m sure there are more than a couple of people who had good experiences with Fiats in SCCA races and rallies, but I have never known the owner of a Fiat as a daily driver who hasn’t had multiple and costly repairs, if they had them for any length of time, coupled with some weird problem or problems difficult to diagnose and/or repair, which continued to plague them.”

            I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I first learned Fiat was re-entering the U.S. Market, as I’d always thought I’d have to renounce my American citizenship to ever have the opportunity to buy a new one again. That’s chiefly due to the very positive experience I had owning the first new car I ever bought – a 1974 Fiat X1/9 – and driving it for nearly 6 years and 100k miles. All I had to do was follow the recommended maintenance schedule (e.g., changing timing belt), which was, sadly, a concept a lot of other folks couldn’t quite understand.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @VolandoBajo,
          Jaguar and LandRover jumped for joy after leaving the suffocating embrace of Ford. Tata poured in the resources they wanted and allowed them the freedom, to innovate and do what they wanted to do. Lack of resources and freedom, were summed up by the miserable Jaguar F1 team. Almost as bad if British Leyland had. Run the team

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @CJ in SD
        You got to read Marchionnes comments in that context. He equates Jeep, as the Global saviour of FCA, so an upmarket Jeep makes sense

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Jack Baruth
      “maximum leader of FCA has shown that he understands the Jeep brand, and its role in America, less than any of his predecessors.”

      He probably understands Jeeps position in a Global context much more than his predecessors. For Jeep to have cred Globally, it needs a vehicle that can compare to the Landcruiser and be as RELIABLE and as effective OFF ROAD as they are. Yes they do take them Offf Road outside NA

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “especially those with poor reliability scores.”

      Are you sure you’re talking about Fiat? From what I’ve been seeing (and experiencing), Fiat’s reliability is pretty good. Meanwhile, Fiat’s other Fiat-designed-and-built product, the Cherokee itself, is doing pretty well, too.

      And by the way, I like hot, stylish little coupes.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        The reliability comment comes via Consumer Reports and is specific to the 500.

        I like little sporty coupes, too, but face it, we’re a minority in the US

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          And that’s why I don’t trust Consumer Reports; they don’t always give accurate ratings due to either internal or external prejudices. The Fiat 500 has very high reliability ratings in Europe by comparison and my current 2014 example seems to be following the Euro reliability much more closely than the CR ratings. In fact, I don’t know of any Fiat 500 owners who don’t absolutely love their little mini-compact coupe.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            C’mon, Vulpine, you can only stand some cockpit error troubles with Blue and Me for so long before the snark rolls off the forked tongue. I’m quite happy with my 2012 Abarth, wouldn’t trade it for anything else in small, fun car class. I once had, oh wait, I still do have, an ’81 Fiat X1/9, with 200k miles, just needs a little love and care from an owner who knows the difference between a car and an appliance.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Knowing the equipment helps, General. Blue and Me hasn’t given me enough trouble to even consider. But then, I’m tying it to an iPhone, not an Android, so I may have an advantage.

            I also don’t consider the infotainment system all that important when I’m reviewing a car. While it has gotten more difficult, you can still get aftermarket units to replace those funky factory models when they finally do crap out. (I’ve repaired enough to know they used to be pretty solid, but even with those older ones the extreme temperature shifts would take them out over time.)

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Don’t misunderstand, I use an iPhone and have had no troubles with Blue and Me. Just highlighting the fact that IT is the scary reliability issue these ponces are referring to when they rant about Consumer Reports contentions.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “decent ownership proposition since the Nineties.”

    Are we sure about this? They seem to have lots of interior trim, body/paint, engine, transmission, AC, and electrical problems. Like all the ones built from 1993 – 2010ish. They also gulp fuel like it’s goin’ out of style.

    The lack of interior space for the exterior size of the vehicle has always bothered me as well. It had seemingly less space than an S10 Blazer but was much larger!

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      While they certainly have had a fair smattering of trouble, especially loaded up 4.7 PowerTech variants of the WJ owing to the sheer number of things that can go wrong (HVAC blend doors, engine trouble from the 4.7), I think the ZJs were mostly solid trucks excepting some transmission and transfer case issues on the V8s. 4.0L WJs are also perfectly fine for the most part, I can think of 3 people off the top of my head that ran such trucks upwards of 200k miles without any catastrophic problems, although they Jeeps were definitely pretty used up after much deferred maintenance over that high mileage. A coworker recently dumped his WJ, a V8 with fulltime 4wd and 170k miles. It had accumulated a list if issues, many of them no fault of the Jeep’s (cracked windshield, whiny differential that never got serviced). It had a leaking heater core, and an intermittent no start issues. For a non car person that just needs to get to work, it was game over. But I wouldn’t exactly call that a horror story.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      And the WK didn’t even work for traditional Grand Cherokee buyers. Sales collapsed in 2006, right when they shouldn’t have.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      Yeah. My in-laws had a late-90s model, it was an unmitigated POS with numerous electrical and drivetrain problems and it got about 5MPG in the city. They dumped that thing as soon as they could for….a Lexus LS.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Every single GC I have known someone to have, from the mid 90s through the mid 00s, has had something seriously wrong with it constantly.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          I know several people with them and had few problems. They even use them off road, for real. One did have a seal issue in the transmission but that was a minor fix. It also happened out in the desert traversing some pretty major stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      01 WJ owner with the 4.7. Problem with the Jeeps is they require as much maintenance as a BMW and are very particular about what fluid you put in them. Most GC buyers 93-04 were new to SUV and trucks having previously owned fwd cars. Most owners never changed differential fluid (recommended every 20k)or transfer case fluid (30k) as they never had one before. If you don’t keep up the maintenance on them they fall apart. Also if you take it to Jiffy Lube, they will change the TC and Diff fluid for you but they don’t have the right fluid and they die a slow death 20k miles later. All WJ’s will suffer a blend door and heater core failure at some time after 10 years, mine gave up the ghost at the 13 year mark. No excuse for the bad door locks, and window motors though. I know many people with over 200k miles on theirs and take min off road about once a month and never left me stranded. Oh and they eat brake rotors and calipers.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Never heard this about XJs, could the high maintenance and special fluid demands be Daimler influence?

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          28 days, the XJs never had fulltime transfer cases with viscous couplings, let alone something as complex as quadradrive (variable locking diffs that are extremely sensitive to fluid). A high end WJ was quite a technological tour de force back in the day, and those chickens come to roost at high mileage. The XJs are stone age simple by comparison, which pays dividends as things age. Of course XJs aren’t exactly paragons of build quality themselves either. While the a is in transmission is a total trooper, and the mighty 4.0 I6 mostly lives up to its reputation, a lot goes wrong on them. Thankfully almost always cheap and easy to fix.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Daimler did more harm than good while they ‘owned’ Chrysler.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’ve heard that the current Martha’s Vineyard conveyance of choice is oftentimes a Toyota Land Cruiser, be it 10 years old or brand new, any truth to this?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      In today’s edition of Ask Rich White People…

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I subscribe so I don’t miss an edition.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I’ve been stuck on this concept ever since reading Doug’s article about Toyota’s vast SUV array:

        linkhttps://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/does-toyota-really-need-seven-suvs/

        “and the Land Cruiser, which is bought solely with cash by people who don’t understand why it’s socially awkward to ask the salesman: “So, where do you summer?””

        I also used to always see the progeny of the NorthEast’s well to do driving around Cornell’s campus, behind the wheel of their parents’ old Land Cruiser as a hand-me-down. Always totally filthy and unmaintained :( “oh it’s my parents’ crappy old car.” Of course I also saw the fraternity set texting and driving behind the wheel of X5s and Cayennes, but it was the unwashed Land Crusiers that really stung :(

        • 0 avatar
          sproc

          Go Big Red. At least in my day the thought of a BMW or Porsche SUV was sheer lunacy and no one had ever sent a text. The hand-me-down Land Cruisers were there already, but at least we still had that crowd mostly bottled up in West Campus.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The really, really, really old money still drive old Range Rovers and original Grand Wagoneers/Cherokees (if they are not driving Mercedes and Volvo wagons), at least here on the coast of Maine. Land Cruisers don’t get a look in.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            People who’ve had the misfortune of leasing a Range Rover rarely lease another one or buy one. They look elsewhere,.. once bitten, twice shy.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @gtemnykh
          In Australia they use them primarily as an Off Road vehicle, even the nice shiny ones that spend most of their time on City streets, all of. them have done a bit of Off Roading

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Likewise in Russia, especially in Siberia. What started off as JDM right hand drive imports into Vladivostok in the 1990s turned into brand new LC200s as the new class of business owners emerged, people who had gotten a taste of the Toyota goodness in the form of older 80 series trucks. There’s certainly a mind bending amount of uninhabited space to explore out there, and very few paved roads. It’s almost a sign of prestige to be able to drive your 4×4 out farther into the wilderness to set up camp or out onto a beach away from the proles in lesser cars.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      My guess is that the true old money is still driving their two 300D’s from the sixties or seventies, probably totally rebuilt/refurbed at least once or twice.

      The Land Cruiser would be for those who can’t justify spending half the price of a Land Cruiser on a vehicle overhaul every thirty years or so.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      You were writing your comment at the same time as mine. Rich people drive a lot of stuff, but the wealthy still drive Land Cruisers.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I’m from CT. Wealthy people drive MB E-classes (that they keep for 10 years) and American and Japanese large SUVs (GCs, Tahoes, Suburbans, Land Cruisers, etc). If they have a third car it’s an old Porsche, Jag, or MB convertible that they bought new and it’s in the garage with 3k miles on it and it’s driven thrice a year.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        On the LCs being used, Toyota nailed it with this ad.

        http://youtu.be/isC32ev4Lw4

    • 0 avatar

      The Land Cruiser seems to have a certain appeal to a certain group of wealthy. It’s a 70k vehicle that only a certain group of people realize is a 70k vehicle, which is an amazing way of signaling that you are wealthy, but only to other wealthy people, and also signaling that you don’t want to show off your wealth.

      The other vehicle that seems to fit this category is the Defender 90. They go for absurdly high prices (as do grey-market imported Defenders), but few people outside of a small group of enthusiasts realize how expensive they are. Nothing says “I’m so wealthy I don’t care” like paying 50k for a used truck that they had to stop selling here because it didn’t meet US safety requirements because it didn’t have passenger air bags.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        “which is an amazing way of signaling that you are wealthy, but only to other wealthy people”

        Kind of like a Mercedes G-Wagen.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          The vehicle of the non-costal discrete wealthy is the Suburban LT/LTZ and it’s been since 1992.

          Roll into any city in middle-America in a $60k BMW 5-Series. Everyone and their brother will think you are some “Wall-Street Multi-Millionare snob”. Try it in a $60k Suburban LTZ and no-one will bat and eyelash.

  • avatar

    The current Grand Cherokee gets things right and a newer more expensive model will be troubling and unnecessary. What they need to focus on is cutting down on some of the fluff and getting rid of things like the Patriot.

    Even if they are to build this new lux SUV, another problem will be the dealer experience. Are Jeep dealerships set up to give the same kind of experience as a Range Rover dealer?

    I think money would be better spent on a Hellcat GC. They also have that Maserati SUV coming so they are kind of covered in the area.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      When I see folks in my area driving late model Range Rovers, I keep thinking of the current mobile phone TV ad featuring the “Stupid Rich”. Just how many years of continued shabby reliability reputation does Land Rover need to present before we stop envying our neighbors who have one in their driveway. Sergio should thank his lucky stars that with all the challenges he faces to keep FCA running, one of them is not dealing with a Range Rover reputation. And, isn’t the Grand Cherokee based on Mercedes architecture or platform? Somehow, more of the public needs to be reminded of that fact, as well. I know of the wife of a dealer principal I formerly worked with who was adamant that she get to keep her cherished Discovery(I think because it afforded her a measure of status at the Nordstrom mall parking lot), when she could be driving a new Navigator every year. Boy did I feel sorry for her husband in an effort to keep peace in his home.

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        “Sergio should thank his lucky stars that with all the challenges he faces to keep FCA running, one of them is not dealing with a Range Rover reputation.”

        I think FCA has plenty of reliability and image problems to keep Sergi busy for awhile. See the Dodge Dart and every Fiat ever made.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          No, not EVERY Fiat that was ever made…they managed to turn out just enough that did well in various competitions, in the hands of those who could and did provide them with frequent stroking in the form of repeated, frequent and skillful wrenching.

          Then just enough of that panache would wear off to get “sporty””young at heart” midlifers to run out and buy one.

          Around where I used to be from, the Fiat of yore was the early Miata of its day. Underpowered, but unique. A “statement” car, or perhaps better put, an “understatement” car.

          Or sometimes, a sports car for those who couldn’t afford, or didn’t recognize the inherent superiority of an Austin Healey 3000-6.

          In fact, for a couple of years during the gas crisis in NYC, I developed a small following of Fiat owners who paid me to overhaul their carburetors, as I had gotten good at the task, cleaning crappy gas out of the float bowl of Rabbit.

          But the carburetor problems of the Fiats went far beyond just small pieces of gravel in the float bowl.

          I helped pay for my grad school, in part, because of the carburation and electrics, or lack thereof, on two seater Fiats back in the seventies.

          Never really that difficult if you had a shop manual, some decent tools, and a bit of an analytic mind, but certainly not the kind of car you could use as a daily driver, or afford unless you were either wealthy or mechanically inclined.

          Fiats of that era were a bit of a shell game…great or at least good enough on the track, a real con job in your driveway.

          YMMV. But I saw what I saw.

      • 0 avatar

        A lot of it is about status and I would guess that a very small percentage know anything about their RR other than the fact that it has an RR badge

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “…one of them is not dealing with a Range Rover reputation.”

        FWIW, the flip side RR’s rep of sub par quality is their rep for being the luxury SUV of choice for the rich and famous. From where I’m sitting, the latter is more powerful than the former.

        Even with the quality issues they continue to sell. And if most people are leasing there’s a very good chance that that the quality gremlin won’t pay them a visit.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    My friend’s cousin drives an Autobiography. That’s what she calls it. Her boyfriend bought it for her. He is always driving a black Maranello with black wheels and limo-tinted windows when he comes here. The blacked out windows are because he’s a private person, supposedly. Considering they’re both professional wrestlers, I’d say they’re exactly the market for Range Rovers. Will they buy a Jeep if it costs enough? Most of my friend’s cousins and brothers are multimillionaires in their 20s and 30s that made their money the old fashioned way. When they come over to watch football, it looks like a beige Yukon Denali club meet.

  • avatar
    probert

    Apart from the massive increase in jeep sales under fiat ownership, I have to agree – what does he know about jeeps.

    • 0 avatar
      Jgwag1985

      What did Alan Mulally know about building cars? What did he do for Ford?

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        What Mulally did for Ford: on the credit side of the ledger, reduced overhead, focused engineering in high margin (trucks) and halo (Mustangs, HO/SHO vehicles). Got some new platforms on the road, ones for this century. Not all great successes, but all going in the right direction.

        On the debit side: killed the Mercury brand, there was some loyalty there that could have been spread to a younger generation. Killed the Panther platform, engineering and design costs minimal, tremendous body of loyal customers, to this day. Still floundering in the Lincoln arena.

        And yes, he had to get rid of a lot of assets, both to survive and to focus his company on their core strengths. But he kept Ford from the fate of GMC (Government Motors) and Chrysler (FCA, but hey, we have (some of) our offices in Detroit, because we are an American car company.)

        At worst, he deserves a B+, considering the seas he had to sail in. At best, an A-, as he has allowed missteps on his watch, but has never ended up lost or going in the wrong direction overall.

        He didn’t and doesn’t have to be an automotive engineer to be able to provide the overall leadership of a global auto company. He just has to have enough of a feel for what is going on, and an overall sense of the market, in order to know who to let run with their projects, and who to reel back in.

        I wish he could have kept Jaguar and restored it to its glory from earlier times, but it wasn’t worth getting sidetracked while the main show was in dire need of fixing. Land Rover, given that he couldn’t get a Jeep-y Defender approved and under the CAFE wire, probably, just as well he let it go. And that was the best of what the hand he was dealt.

        Better to get out of all the “prop” bets, and focus on being Ford, and making sure everyone inside and out of it knew and knows what that is.

        He is almost certainly the right person at the right time, doing the right job in the right way. He is one of the main reasons I remain optimistic for the future of Ford, and why overall I think it is a far better brand than either GMC or FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      Being who he is and where he’s from undoubtedly has a lot of influence on his view of what a Jeep is. In the US, Jeep is (supposed to be) a rugged and reliable, middle class grocery-getter that can also look good covered in mud. At least that’s the image that they’ve always projected here. In Europe, Jeeps are more of a status symbol, just as RR is on our shores.

      I seriously hope that Sergi doesn’t forget (or learns) what makes a Jeep desirable in the first place. Hint: It’s not the exclusivity dictated by its price tag.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        You do realize that Sergio is Canadian, don’t you?
        Canadians buy Jeeps for the same reasons Americans do (only slightly more so, on a per-capita basis).

        That being said, why shouldn’t he sell a few hyper-expensive Jeeps in Berlin, Dubai and Shanghai? They wouldn’t move in the US (not without a Maserati badge), but there’s no great harm in having foreigners take Jeep seriously, for once.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @E30gator
        No they are not a status symbol, but a ” 4×4″ and are used appropriately. Status symbols are Hyperfast Sportscars or Rolls Royce, Bentley etc

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    In the contemporary economy, all goods must be Veblen goods, as it is socially unacceptable to present a non-consumption based narrative to your audience, lest they attack you in defence of their own narratives.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Wow, you need to find some better friends!

      Seriously.

      Most people obsess about something. Find some friends who obsess about something sensible sensible, and move on with life.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Good article, and Fiat’s own experience with the old and new 500, and the relative lack of success of the 500 Magnum or whatever its called should scare them away.

    I think the other truly classless vehicle is the Toyota Land Cruiser. If you bought one, you’ve Escaladed the ladder to the top and have no need to shout your wealth. The Land Crusier is the most discrete $80k+ vehicle by a mile and most people can’t tell it apart from a Highlander.

    The few actual Land Cruisers around my parts seem to be driven by doctor types with lake homes.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      The LC might be “classless” in a sense but its too expensive to be driven by poor people unless it’s completely decrepit. GCs can be bought reasonably new off-lease for $15-25k, so they’re in reach of many; LCs are pretty beat by the time they’re that price so they aren’t a casual choice for anyone, just enthusiasts.

      • 0 avatar
        slance66

        In America, yes. But I’m just back from Ireland, where beat up, dirty Land Cruisers (and quite a few Defenders) littered the rural areas. It was fascinating to see the vehicle we know as the Lexus GX460 used in a manner that most Americans reserve for very old pickup trucks.

        So blame Toyota (or Lexus) for treating the LC brand as upscale here, because it isn’t anywhere else.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    Jack, your range and erudition never cease to amaze. And while I can understand that you have probably hacked off more than one manufacturer, either they do, or should, listen carefully to what you say about automobiles and their markets.

    As a former Cherokee Sport (95) owner, I’d be curious to know what you have to say about its disappearance from the Jeep lineup, as well as its possible viability in the future.

    In particular, it seemed that it had an outstanding amount of interior space for its overall size, and in many ways was more reliable than its Grand “father”.

    I also used to be a designated driver for a friend and former colleague who had a GC from about 04, and while I found that there was a bit more of car-like luxury in it, that the Sport was easier to drive, and handled better. I am still at a bit of a loss as to why the Cherokee “bit the dust”, unless it was because of the general lack of direction of Chrysler over the last two decades.

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    It will not happen, but why doesn’t he use the Chrysler part of the brand portfolio, and make his Escalade-cum-Rover as either an Aspen or an Imperial?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think the Aspen was a too recent failure to use. And I don’t want the memory of Imperial sullied by anything past that 93 K-Car. And that would also erase the beautiful Imperial Concept from 08 which they should have made but didn’t.

    • 0 avatar

      I think he should bring back the Grand Wagoneer. Not just the name, but the actual vehicle, updated only in terms of legally required safety equipment and more fade-resistant di-noc fake woodgrain.

      It will be retro-cool.

      • 0 avatar
        Jgwag1985

        As a current Grand Wagoneer owner. No, no, no, no more retro.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        If you did that, it would no longer resemble a Grand Wagoneer at all. Current safety regs are the opposite of that thing.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Exactly. I see people all the time saying “they should just bring back the [insert iconic vehicle not produced in 30 +/- years] and add safety features so it can sell today”.

          As if adding air bags and ABS to a 64 Impala/57 Thunderbird/original VW bus/first gen Mustang would magicly make them as safe as a modern car. Shows complete lack of understanding of how much the automobile has been (forcibly) changed since those classics ruled the road. Simply bolting on safety features would do very, very little to make the car safer, or rather, safe enough to compete with modern cars.

          You cant just engineer in crash worthyness into those old shapes. They simply will not conform. If you try to modernize an ancient design, the results are mixed at best (05 Mustang on the high end, 00s Thunderbird on the low end).

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Believe it or not, I agree whole-heartedly. I loved the old GW.

  • avatar
    John R

    I don’t know if a vehicle that would make the Overland its junior would hurt Jeeps image too much.

    I feel like people who are affluent and with taste would just recognize that car for what it is and just continue to buy the Grand Cherokee…or not.

    The Pilot, Traverse/Acadia, 4Runner and Land Crusier are decent products that go about their business quietly and make no pretensions also.

    • 0 avatar
      zoomzoom91

      I agree with just about everything you said, other than that the Traverse and Acadia are decent products. The Lambda platform CUVs have proven that they do not age well and are prone to a variety of problems. After owning (still do) an Acadia, we will not likely be repeat customers. The highlight was when it threw a rod. A friend with an Enclave has had similar experiences. Most recently, it tossed its timing chain and toasted the engine.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Great piece, and timely, too.

    Of all modern, developed nations, I despise Britain the most.

    A small island nation, with a bizarrely celebratory (if symbolic) Royal Family & Monarchy, forever regaling in a glorious, romantacized distant past, tied to the fate of a strong, wooden vessel navy, that is now dependent on banking in the heart of London, that creates a wider wealth gap among its citizens (or more appropriately, residents), with the wealthy living in London, and lesser living outside thereof, with each passing year.

    A nation that symbolizes caste-like privilege, and worships images of princlings & princesses, that makes less real things of value, and shifts more paper and electronic chattel, from one pocket to another, than ever before, and that serves as a banking/financial reservoir for illicit slush funds from every source from shady defense contractors (aka arms dealers), to dirty oil money, to continental European tax “minimizes,” and oppressive Russians, Saudis, Kuwaitis & literal despots.

    And yet when Kardashian sized a$$ gets tabloids talking, and real real housewives of Camden or Stockton or Alpharetta or Cleveland watching, a Range Rover is some sort of appropriate level trinket and conveyance of something vaguely “British”/Royal.

    The best things to have ever come out of Britain was reworked music that was stolen from poor, yet extremely talented Americans (many of them black).

    And British football (aka soccer) SUCKS, too, with players such as Beckham & Rooney every bit as overrated as the very nation they represent, making more money on celebrity than true skill on the pitch.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      Beckham’s retired, but thanks for playing the spew-bile-at-a-random-country card for the day. Tune in tomorrow, when we blame the Koreans for everything.

    • 0 avatar
      jfbramfeld

      You can bash Britain for all kinds of goofy things, they do the same to us; but you can hardly complain that they listened to early blues and hillbilly music and “stole”it. They played that music when no one over here was. They paid royalties and gave credit where credit was due; they brought blues artists over there for triumphant tours through all of Europe when those same artists were playing in bars on the south side of Chicago. They praised these blues players publically and often, collaberated with them on records and made many of these ignored artists rich men for the first time. What assholes. You don’t hear the actual blues artists complaining, the complainers are ignoramuses who think racism is a game of one-upmanship.

      • 0 avatar
        Domestic Hearse

        jbramfeld,

        Read “Life”, Keith Richards’ autobiography, not too long ago. The young Rolling Stones lived, ate, breathed Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and American blues artists who, at the time, were being largely ignored here in the US. Cream/Clapton, Jeff Beck, all doing the same thing — Earl Hooker, Elmore James, Howlin Wolf et al.

        Props to the post-war British lads who “discovered” American blues, kept it alive, built upon it, and gave it to the rest of the world to appreciate (including Americans).

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      I understand where you are coming from. However, Britain has done the difficult thing of striking the colors and ceasing to be a world player and become just another nation. America would be so lucky that, as our much-shorter-lived and less-significant empire unravels, we are just another nation and not dismembered and forgotten on the ash heap, as happened to most of history’s empires. As the Romans taught the world law; the Brits tried hard to teach the world culture; we sell the world iPhones and Instagram.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      The music comment triggered me, but you’re so damned right.

      I can’t believe my current gf loves the Kardashian / Land Rover image. FML.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        “I can’t believe my current gf loves the Kardashian / Land Rover image. FML.”

        Ha. You can sure pick ’em.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Seriously, what is it with women and Rovers? Even my shabby chic old P38 has women coming up to me and saying they love my car! All the time.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Mine is super intelligent (she really is, I’m not just saying that) and watches the Real Housewives whatever show.

        I don’t say a word, but it is a complete mystery to me.

        There’s a weird and mysterious portion of the female brain that scientists/psychologists/psychiatrists have yet to even remotely understand.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I don’t mind if anyone says I’m a “hater,” because in reality, I do hate a lot of things (although I “love,” just “like” and am “neutral” on many things) in the world I see; let’s be realistic, there’s much to hate.

      But what I really want to know is when, and more precisely, I’m wrong.

      Unfortunately, my hatred, jadedness, cynicism and skepticism of many of the things I rail against is more often vindicated, than not.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        It’s less about right vs. wrong and more about why do you so passionately spew vitriol over things that are really pretty benign. You are certainly more than welcome to dislike the ATS, but do you really need to scream about it as though it took a dump on your own mother’s chest?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “more precisely, I’m wrong.”

        There should be a WHY in there.

        (I also hate tablets in addition to Tony Blair & Prince Charles & Higgins from Magnum P.I. [the character, not the American, Texas born actor] ).

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        ‘But what I really want to know is when, and more precisely, I’m wrong.”

        OK.
        I’m your huckleberry…

        “Of all modern, developed nations, I despise Britain the most.”
        Really? More than say, France?

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I do not and have never gotten the American inclination towards bashing France.

          I’m in no way saying they are without major flaws (which nation or its citizens aren’t?).

          French colonization was literally benevolent compared to British colonization, France has far less a caste system by birth than the British (it exists, but there’s nowhere near the titled elite), France gave us assistance that probably allowed us to ultimately break British rule (I’m not sure we could have done so without French Naval support nor armanents), France gave us an enlightened Benjamin Franklin, who personifies our Bill of Rights, and France gave the world some great sexual positions/acts as well as culture and Zidane (who could beat Beckham or Rooney with one leg tied behind his back) etc.

          I think France gets a raw deal, collectively, due in huge part to stereotypes about French snobbery (have people complaining about this been to London lately? I have, 3x in the last 8 years).

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            The English language, the Rule of Law, parliamentary democracy, banning the slave trade and taking it on the chin for the other western democracies for 3 years.

            Those all seem like pretty good reasons to appreciate the U.K.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      It’s very American to misunderstand a nation that, despite its less than stellar history of playing nice with the rest of the world, has still managed to maintain continuity in government for centuries. Meanwhile, the first non-white US President has half of the southern states shouting “Not My President,” and crazies in other states arming themselves for “the day when we feel like our freedoms are no more……maybe tomorrow.”

      Americans’ general understanding of “world history” doesn’t really go much further back than WW2.

      There is value in preserving a system of government that has worked for more than half a millennium, and even then, today’s monarchy is only there to step in when the parliamentary government fails.

      My friends from the UK visited me (in California) last year, and they were aghast at the general lack of order and the disregard of rules and community spirit. And “American drivers are terrible,” but we already know that. There is law, and there is order. Today’s Americans only understand the former.

      Perspective is important when judging a nation’s form of government.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Chan

        Agree with you 100%. A look at the rolling coal post shows an awful lot of what is wrong with America today.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Micro vs macro.

          I’ve never elevated the U.S. on a pedestal (far from it; I’m a huge critic).

          The English sense of romantic pride in their once glorious, conquesting past is rubbed on their wounds in a thick, analgesic paste, in a futile attempt to shelter them from what are their innate cultural deficiencies (hence the cognitive dissonance).

          • 0 avatar
            Sam Hell Jr

            DW, you forgot to mention that they made their money on the backs of the African slave trade, a penniless working class, and opium, or that their fecklessness in the 30s was the sin of omission that gave us the Third Reich.

            But yes, the global fetishization of “Britishness” which has somehow come to be conflated with London is just one of those despicable things about our world.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            you have never elevated the US on a pedestal?
            Ya know, its this kind of PC/CHIC bash America mixed with a kind of Catholic self-hate guilt that drives me nuts.
            Kinda think I am gonna change my handle from Trailertrash to Happy As A Lark Fat Ass American.
            Get over the self hate, America. You have done a whole lot more great things than any other nation in as few years against worse odds.
            Geeeeze!

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      Stop sugar-coating everything and tell us what you really think.

    • 0 avatar
      Joss

      Hitching their wagon to China now the US is no longer the only show in town.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      @DeadWeight But how do you REALLY feel about GB?

      I don’t have such an unmitigated dislike for all things Brit, being in large part a descendant of the Isle, but much of your critique is in fact quite accurate.

      Still, they make good sweaters, topcoats, soap, and…come to think of it, what else good DO they make?

      Then there is the world’s smallest cookbook, Gourmet Cuisine of the British Isles.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I love our two GCs. A 2014 and a 2004 model that has served us well. Both vehicles do everything we ask of them and more – without breaking the bank.

    The only reason I won’t buy another GC (when the ’04 bites the dust) is that I really want a Wrangler.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    GC is the spiritual successor to the Ford Explorer in the 90s. Jack of all trades and appeals to all demographics. Good vehicle.

    I’ve never been much of a believer in leasing vehicles, but if one day I was to REALLY want a Range Rover, that would be the only way to do it. I haven’t had a chance to ride/drive the newest bodystyle RR yet, but the previous 2 generations just felt special.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “Good vehicle”

      Also, lousy MPGs. Otherwise, they do seem to have been pretty good vehicles.

      They’re getting better, though. I’d almost be caught dead in the new Grand Cherokee diesel. The 30MPG takes away a little bit of the in-your-face wastefulness that characterized these vehicles in the school pickup line when I was a teenager in the 1990s.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Just a minor quibble: the Grand Wagoneer disappeared before the last of GM’s B body wagons (1991 vs ’96). Isn’t it pretty much an open secret FCA is bringing back the Grand Wagoneer for 2018?
    http://blog.caranddriver.com/jeep-ceo-mike-manley-confirms-next-gen-wrangler-to-stay-body-on-frame-grand-wagoneer-on-track-for-2018/

  • avatar

    I was with you until the last two paragraphs.

    I love the GC, but I can’t buy one because I need a third row seat. Yes, the Durango, but something about the Durango that I just can’t love, at least not in the same way as the GC.
    A Lexus LX, Land Cruiser, or Land Rover LR4-like Jeep would fit perfectly into the current Jeep line-up, and it soon will… but neither of those are like the Range Rover. Which means that I still don’t agree with you, but you’re not wrong.

    Does that make sense?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      And that’s basically what this will be, a 3 row JGC. There’s no reason to believe that the JGC’s image won’t rub off on it. Don’t expect an Escalade with a Jeep badge on it, though it may be priced as such. Let’s not forget that there are already 75K JGCs being sold today.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Many a fond memory of seriously offloading the very capable Grand Wagoneer as a young teen (driving age was 14 and the minimum age for a deer hunting license was 12, according to my way-back machine). We were a middle-class, blue-collar family (back when blue collar wages were actually sufficient to lift your father above poverty levels).

    So much of what you say is spot on about the Jeep brand’s appeal (I’ve owned several Jeeps, own one now). Quick scan of the lot where my 800+ co-workers park and one can see a disproportionate number of Jeep vehicles: Many Wranglers, a Patriot or two, some older Liberty models, a couple new Cherokees, and dozens of Grand Cherokees, some driven by middle management moms, and a few by executive managers (who could easily afford the Range Rover but wouldn’t be caught dead in one).

    That said, I would not mind the resurrection of the Grand Wagoneer to sit atop the GC. But it cannot be unobtanium priced, opulently optioned, nor a prestige replacement for the Range Rover. Instead, it should be just a three-seat GC — not quite a Suburban, or even a Tahoe, but a sensible shoe, like the GC, for families requiring a bit more space. In other words, the now-dead Commander with all the suck removed.

    Sergio had best heed your words. Without the current resurgence of the Jeep brand and the revenue stream it provides, FCA LLC would be in a tight spot. Do not f*** with this brand, do not make it snobby, or aspirational, or anything other than American Common Sense with a hint of patriotic pride (see the little “Willies Jeep” silhouette Easter Eggs on all their current models).*

    *The Bigfoot Easter Egg on the new Renegade makes me smile — perfect whimsical touch.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Introducing, the 2018 Jeep Grand WagonCommanderRokeeManche. Starting at $100K.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    I hope that Sergio screws up this model. The next gen Exploder will fill it’s void quite nicely.

    As-is, the Grand Cherokee is probably the most successful volume / profit generator being sold in North America (I am probably wrong, but my scope is limited). Being a supplier for that platform was absolutely crazy. Tooling being pushed to it’s limit, 24/7. Capacity expansions immediately after launch. It really is a perfect storm.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sure the GM BOF SUVs are sold in much greater volumes, and with higher profit margins. Not to mention the full-sized trucks from FCA, Ford and GM. But the Grand Cherokee is probably up there in terms of profit margins. It’s also the only current FCA vehicle I’d consider buying…well, and maybe a Ram EcoDiesel…

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        GM BOF SUV’s may sell more after their new platform launch. But the complexity and evelopment costs are likely higher. My quick good car bad car referencing says I’m right or close to being right.

        Trucks are trucks. I should have clarified that I view this as ‘the most successful SUV.’

        I’m right there with you on the Ecodiesel and the GC. The GC is a beautiful vehicle. I’d swallow the quality pill for the goods.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      I’d say that award was going to the F150…..we’ll see about this current model.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        GM’s last gen BOF SUVs were just about at the apex of profit, volume and quality. They were a huge step up in quality from the 2000-2005 models, while selling a crap-ton of them and being extremely profitable.

        The 2015+ are much higher quality but the price is skyrocketing. The market can support a $50k or $60k Suburban, but a $70k is pushing it past affordable for many.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Your crazy, the GMT900 had an interior made with plastic fisher-price wouldn’t even use. Along with oil gulping engines and electric power steering the 900s are part of the reason sales were cut in half with the exit of the GMT800, to the much lower quality 900s

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            The sales decrease was a combination of things. By the time the 900s rolled out the SUV boom was dying out and gas prices spiked. They were also more expensive.

            I had an ’02 Tahoe. The powertrain was a gem. The interior would have been embarrassing in a 1992 Tahoe, let alone a 2002. Sure, the GMT900 interior may not have been up to Audi standards, but compared to the previous generation it was a HUGE upgrade.

  • avatar
    RedRex

    That was a nice rant about Land Rover, and a nice rave about the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but I think you’re off the mark about Sergio. Judging from the fact that he said this at a Maserati dealership, all his words mean are “We need to make a Maserati SUV that competes with the Range Rover.”

  • avatar
    brianyates

    I think DW forgot to take his meds. today

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Mostly good analysis, but I do have a couple quibbles. I don’t think the wealthy you refer to are crass enough to worry about where there favored vehicle falls in the Jeep hierarchy. Above I mentioned the wealthy basically drive Japenese and American SUVs, and MB E-classes. They are untroubled by the S-class, except for the few old codgers still running 560SELs. The E-Class is generally the right amount of “f you I’m rich” while saying “And I’m so fing rich I don’t have to prove it by buying anything more expensive than this.”

    I think the real problem/opportunity for Jeep is that most of their customers are smart enough not to pay a whole lot more for not a lot more; IOW, the GC already gives most of what they want, what are you reasonably going to add to it to make it that much more expensive? A little more tech? More power? Those might move it up a little, but you aren’t going to get a 30% bump with some fancier leather a la “Autobiography” in that customer crowd.

    No, the real opportunity for Jeep is a LWB version with 3 rows of seats. Right now the only FCA answer to customers wanting three rows is the Durango, and that’s got the wrong badge (though a good car). I think Jeep can make a Wagoneer, that’s basically a LWB GC, but if they try to get silly with the pricing on a prestige basis they’ll get smacked down for it. GM does just fine with the Suburban/Tahoe thing, I think Jeep can mimic that, but no one is going to pay $80k for a $40k GC with a third row and some fancier leather.

    • 0 avatar
      Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

      “And I’m so fing rich I don’t have to prove it by buying anything more expensive than this.”

      To paraphrase and extend, the wealthy buy premium instead of luxury because they’re disillusioned by the illusion of luxury?

      As someone who works alongside many high net worth individuals, I would tend to agree that someone driving a Grand Cherokee or RX350 are the kind of people who once drove a Jaguar or Land Rover when they got their fortunes, before “moving down market”.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      The wealthy drive whatever they damn well please. This meme that the wealthy are monolithic as far as vehicle choice goes has got to stop.

      So what you’re saying is that the wealthy don’t drive Porsche. If they want a 911, or Cayman, or Panamera they say to themselves.. “I’m wealthy, this is not what I’m supposed to drive.”

      And I guess the same goes for BMW, Audi, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Lexus (except the SUVs) et al. And as far as the S Class is concerned, sure, some buy it as a signal of wealth but others like it as a car.

      Tying to place “the wealthy” in this narrow contrived box doesn’t work. There might be four or more cars at the primary residence. What cars will be there? What ever they want.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        It’s the difference between being rich and being wealthy, with wealthy meaning OLD money. I grew up in an old money town, and my Grandmother’s family is an old money family – shipbuilding and whaling money, but with no real money left. That is beside the point, they still summered even when I was a kid, and things were always done a certain way. You are absolutely correct that the wealthy drive whatever they want, but they DO care about image in the sense that shouty just isn’t done. The rich want to make a statement as loudly as possible. This may be a particularly Calvinist New England thing though.

        I do agree with Jack, the Grand Cherokee is pretty classless, though new ones are not exactly cheap even in their base configurations.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    I think the article is more or less correct. It amazes me how crappy the ride is in a RR. The TFT screens smack of cheapness and the things steer like S+it. Thats beofre you get into reliability or stupid controls.The previous RR sport was so hard riding I couldnt imagine what it was for, and any suv that makes overtly loud engine noises is hardey classey. The new Merc GL is made to sound like an old F150 v8, where is the refined turbine hum.

    My problem with the Grand Cherokee is that the few I drove seemed to almost hop at the rear over joints and bumps, might as well have been a solid axle.

    If you are being non badge judgemental and buyign a suv on use, the X5 imo beats every porche and evrythign else in terms of ride, comfort, steering handling brakes etc. Its also so nondescript these dyas, it doe not het a second glance and not really priced differently to a loaded GC. Of course BMW is an arrivist brand like RR.

    Yeah if sergio wants big suv money, stick with the masser versions.

    A new wagoneer sounds great, and yeah I agree with whoever stated the land cruiser is really the clasless car for classy people.

    The new xc90 is interetsing, it will have momymobile written over it, but the inetrior is a cut above pretty much all the other suvs out there, and its lack of mass and motive source smaks of scandanavian praticality. Its also apparently one of the few SUvs that dont ride like crap, but can you tow with it.

    Yep a GC fits in everywhere, no one else does that.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “If you are being non badge judgemental and buyign a suv on use, the X5 imo beats every porche and evrythign else…”

      Also depends if you’ll be using it to do “traditional” SUV type things (trolling mall parking lots doesn’t count). If you need honest to goodness off-road capability, I don’t think an X-5 would cut it. If you don’t, and you’re being badge neutral, an MDX would be my choice over an X-5. It drives great, has a third row if needed, will be reliable, and I believe has the highest resale value-if that type of thing is important to you.

      • 0 avatar
        Boxerman

        Ever lived with a MDX, I had 3. First gen was great. Then like many a new Honda they f-d up the design for ignorant punters. The ride became atrocious the motor rough due to stroking and the interior ridiculous. According to Honda it was an attempt to compete with porche.

        The cardinal sin in an suv is crappy choppy ride, most are afflicted by it in an attempt to make the things “handle”

        I use mine for family trips most weekends, towing a boat towing a race car and skiing in the winter. So we dont do off road, but use the awd space motor and tow capcity. In this context an X5 is great, it can tow and when unburdened by a trailer they drive great, and at the same time are not trying to “handle” like a sportscar so the ride on NE roads is decent. To me its a swetspot. The Jeep seems to hobbyhorse from the rear, at least the ones I went in. Landcruisers have sold axles in the rear which is abit of an issue on winter highway trips. Independant suspension and awd is the way to go.BTW tried a caynne and a Macan, thought both drove like crap, fancy bade enginered with loud exhausts, con cars.My daily is a n Equinox, which really does drive great is durable and anonomous. If you wanta great midsize this is the choice by far, bt It cant really tow.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Jack another great read. And the points made are largely true.
    However there are many past owners of Grand Cherokees (myself included) who will admit to having more than their share of problems. Ours was a ’99 that ate a transmission, burnt out a power seat and a seat heater element.

    • 0 avatar
      PRNDLOL

      Is that it? I’m no Chrysler defender, but I think that’s making out pretty well with anything back then. Plus I thought the new-for-99 Grand Cherokee looked pretty fantastic when it debuted, lights years ahead of the ’93 model.

    • 0 avatar
      Polishdon

      I’ve had my share of Fords that I would have gladly crushed if I could have gotten my money back.

      My neighbor has a 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid that has been in and out of the shop at least two or three times this year. Matter of fact, his car is included in the new recall from Ford with doors that won’t stay closed!

      Remember, Daimler cheaped out Chrysler products for every penny, bailing out Mercedes and then they dumped the hulk on Cerberus who just drained the last few pints of blood.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Modern (post 2013) JGCs & Durangos are very near or atop CR’s road test ratings, and both do at least average in terms of reliability (by modern, relative standards).

      CR goes so far as to say you can spend twice as much and not get more comfortable, capable, quiet, user friendly SUVs than either the JGC/Durango.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      I still don’t understand, other than the “lux” appointments in the GC that weren’t available in the Cherokee Sport. The latter, with a 4.0L inline six was a type of Panther of the SUV world, while the people I know or knew who were customers for full-length Jeeps and went for GC’s invariably ended up with laundry lists of new car problems, while the Cherokee Sports just kept soldiering on.

      I personally know of two burnt out GC trannies, at under 125K miles, (one around 75K), and a handful of electrical problems, but hey, ain’t they Grand, a Sport wouldn’t broadcast on the correct Thorstein Veblen channel.

      There are few things more pathetic than the newly rich who get burned trying to buy what they feel must be more reliable transportation, because it is the upscale model, and not the run of the mill workhorse of the brand lineup.

      When it comes to computer technology, I am unabashedly an early adopter, but when it comes to automotive technology, I have found it to consistently be a better strategy, to follow a wait and see, let’s let the other guy shake out the first year problems.

      Just a couple of examples: the evolution of the Allantes; the improved Isuzu Troopers after their initial introduction; the 97 Grand Marquis, after five previous years of Aero’s (except for a bit of de-contenting) (and yes, the 98 might have been an even better choice for reasons too detailed to go into here); the first year or two of the newer VW front suspension in the Super Beetle; and on and on…seldom does a first year of a new design come out fully formed, only to be followed by decline.

      And the first few years of the Grand Cherokees of the nineties were no exception.

      Never mind that failing transmission, I might get lucky and have it fail in warranty. I just want to be sure my neighbors see that Grand Cherokee badge…I am driving a “luxury” SUV because I can, not a workhorse Sport SUV because I need one. Or so the game seems to go…

      I would call it the thinking pattern, but I’m not sure that thinking has much to do with the process…more of a feelings fix, it seems.

  • avatar
    Chan

    I don’t see why a revised, upscale Grand Cherokee couldn’t get into the Range Rover demographic. Chrysler now has the design and styling chops…they just need to get their automatic transmission software right!

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    “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.”

    You misspelled ‘Escalade’.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The Escalade is the slut who won the small lottery, will proceed to lose it all, and do tricks out back behind the 7-11.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Colorful imagery.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Close your eyes and imagine the 4 to 5 year old, deferred maintenance, ratted out ‘Slade, with the tatted former hundred thousandaire, bleached out hair, Burger King & Del Taco wrappers strewn about her interior, suggesting a trade of a $20 worth of 87 octane for a handy.

          • 0 avatar
            formula m

            The Cadillac has maintaince included and extra year of comprehensive warranty upto 4yrs/80,000kms here in Canada. Should keep them in decent shape for at least that long but I wouldn’t want to deal with replacing a NAV touchscreen in a 5yr old vehicle.

            The new Tahoe would be my choice. Would have to go LTZ to get the magnetic ride control.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And she’s shacked up with the Corvette.

        Both cars with many, many, many redeeming qualities, but absolutely no class at all.

        The classy truck at GM is the Yukon/XL, possibly but not necessarily in Denali trim.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I’d argue the Tahoe has class inasmuch as it’s essentially the same as the Escalade, but is much more cleanly (and reservedly) styled, and can be had for 60% of the Escalade’s price if driving a hard bargain, decently equipped.

          And it’s actually durable and has utility capability, too.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Yeah, Tahoe/Yukon, same thing. The nicer ones are just as nice as the ‘Slade, just without the bling and the baggage. Really, the price is irrelevant, as you are not paying for anything extra worth having with the ‘Slade, unless your intent is to impress the other Real Wives or the Ghetto Homies (priceless, that, I guess).

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            The Escalade is cool, but if I were in the market, I’d take a Yukon Denali over it. It’s a bit more under the radar.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I should know this, but Tahoe = swb Escalade and Yukon = lwb Escalade?

            But yes, Yukon & Tahoe have more class than Escalade.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            TahoeSuburban = short and long Chevy
            YukonYukon XL = short and long GMC

            Same thing, mostly, different grilles. I assume there is a Chevy version of the top-spec GMC Denali trim level, but I don’t know that for certain or what it is called. Nor do I really care…

            Still baffles me that GM sees the need to make two lines of all but identical trucks, just sell the GMCs at the Chevy store and call it a day already.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The highest Chevy trim you can do is an LTZ, and it still won’t have all the options on the Denali, and makes many fewer changes to the appearance from LS->LTZ than Yukon SLT(?)->Denali.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        Touché, DeadWeight. A crack whore who still hasn’t lost her nice wardrobe…yet.

        If this weren’t a more or less G or PG rated arena, the analogy could go a good bit further, into even more colorful and descriptive territory.

        But the audience here doesn’t seem to lack imagination.

        But for starters, we can all imagine what verb would apply when it comes to fuel, among other things.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    What is wrong about trying to make some $$$ when he can. My bets is that the forthcoming Grand Wagoneer will probably be a test bed for that price range. It will probably be $45K-80K price range. 3

    f it sells well then I would expect to see a range topper from $75K-$100K price range (Grand Pioneer) maybe based off the Maserati SUV or a hybrid Ram 1500 platform.

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    I guess when you think about it, the Grand Cherokee is beloved by many different demographics. My wife had a 2001 & 2004 that she loved, except for the fuel economy. The 2001 was troublesome – we had a MK IV Jetta at the time so we were living dangerously! The 2004 only had one problem in 90K miles.

    Serious question – why doesn’t Jeep sacrifice a little of their presumed big time profit on one of these to get better reliability for their flagship? Solid red circles from Consumer Reports relieves a lot of anxiety for a lot of people.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The Grand Cherokee is a nice vehicle that has the potential be a excellent vehicle.

    It’s a cheap midsize SUV with off road creed, comfortable interior. They do sell quite well in our market by those who are nickel millionaires. Most people will buy a Kia Sorento, or it’s Hyundai brother.

    The problem is it isn’t in the same league as Range Rover, Land Rover Disco, Prado, Landcruiser, Patrol, Pajero, etc.

    Here it is one of the cheapest 4×4 Wagons you can get into. But you wouldn’t take it through the desert on a track.

    This is what I find a real pity. The Grand Cherokee has all of the makings of an excellent vehicle.

    It just isn’t reliable. There are many gremlins in them.

    If you off road here, you just don’t use a FCA product.

    I will say it is far better than the Suburban’s and Explorers we received. They were atrocious, no good off road and fell apart.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      The GC isn’t as good as the Range Rover because the GC is unreliable? Insert JLaw “yeah, ok” gif. That’s specious reasoning even by your standard.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @S3k Chris,
        Yep.

        LR and Range Rover over the past decade, ever since they were taken out of British hands have improved markedly. More so than US made vehicles overall.

        US vehicles have also improved markedly over this period of time, but they still need some improvement.

        The Grand Cherokee here is having lots of problems.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Big Al From Oz,
          Primarily Electronic Gliches

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Grand Cherokees have a lot of issues here too. The difference is electrical glitches in the mall parking lot are not nearly as big a deal as in the Outback. The are also all over the map as far as whether you will have an issue or not. I have two friends who bought near identical JGCs at the same time. One has had no issues at all, the other was a disaster such that Chrysler bought it back. But he liked it enough he bought another one. They are kind of in a class by themselves at the moment, being the only somewhat luxurious SUV with REAL off-road ability left in this market that doesn’t cost a fortune and is also not the size of an oil tanker. Pretty much everything else has become a CUV (ala Explorer), or is just cheap and nasty inside and/or unrefined on the road(4Runner).

          I suspect a big difference with Land Rover here vs. there is you guys can probably still buy the relatively stripped down diesel powered low-spec versions that are actually suitable for going off road. All we get in the States are bling-busses with 500hp and 20″+ wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @krhodes,
            No, the opposite is true here. The prestige marques I do believe are even more blinged.

            As for engines, well you’ll find we will buy a diesel well before a gasoline SUV.

            I looked at both the LR Disco and Grand Cherokee. Both in diesel form.

            I owned a XJ Cherokee Sport in the 90s. Bought is brand new and had to trade it in 15 months later. A bucket of sh!t is the best way to describe it.

            I ended up buying a new 4×4, fully blinged, BT50 midsizer for half the price of the LR Disco, or a little more than the price of a Grand Cherokee Laredo at the time.

            The Grand Cherokee here is also a hit and miss affair.

            It comes down to FCA quality assurance systems. Maybe FCA should look to Toyota’s QA system to improve the consistency of their products.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Maybe I’m wrong, but I have fairly extensive experience with Jeeps, and have read plenty of owner accounts on RRs (DeMaruo and others). To me, it seems that Jeeps have a lot of niggling electronicy feature issues, like window regulators, my wife’s Liberty kept eating body computers that caused the keyless entry to fail, etc, but the actual DRIVETRAIN is fairly robust. OTOH, it seems that the failures RRs have tend to be fairly catastrophic, like the thing won’t start and run and drive.

            Maybe I’m wrong, but the number of clapped out GCs running around on their 4th and 5th owners tell me that I’m not far off. Most American cars will run poorly longer than other cars will run at all. It can’t be that $$$ to keep the things running or we wouldn’t have zillions of them here in Chicagoland, it’s just that the climate controls and windows and keyless and crap all stopped working years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      Though in general I like the marque, one of the things some people say FORD stands for is Full Of Rust Daily.

      But it seems to depend on what vehicle. Had an 88 Thunderbird and put over a quarter of million miles on it, not a spot of rust. Have a 97 Grand Marquis with going on 200K miles, just a mild patina of rust on some of the underside, exhaust hangers, tailpipes, that sort of thing, out of the way parts, but none on the body.

      But I have seen Explorers with less than ten years on them that look like terminal cancer, for example. Even then, nothing like the rust on my wife’s “buy it after the initial depreciation, drive it til it starts costing you a lot of money” 2002 Corolla…quartern panel rust beyond all recognition, paint flaking and chipping.

      On the other hand, I have seen literally hundreds of Panthers in the last six months, and only two of them had some paint chipping and flaking, with maybe a half dozen more with really dull paint. The rest would look good if they were ten years younger, they have so little (or no) cosmetic problems.

      And my 95 Cherokee Sport, which I kept until about 2012, had no rust issues. Spent most of its life in VA and NJ. But my buddy’s 04 or 05 GC, titled in CT, was already starting to show rust on the underside of the body panels in about 2010.

      Not sure how much is the car and how much is the owner, though…I make sure my car gets two or three really good undercarriage washes after the last of the snow plows have been put back in storage at the beginning of spring, which has to at least slow the process down. Still, it was freaky to see a ten years younger GC that cost several times what my Sport had cost me, that was already beginning to rust out.

      All of these have lived in the Mid Atlantic, with a fair dose of salt every winter.

      I used to be surprised to see how many Hondas pick up rust problems, too, though usually not massive, just spots.

  • avatar
    That guy

    I’m a JGC owner, 2011 Laredo X. My wife wanted a CUV, I wanted a truck, it was the best compromise in our price range. 7,000lb of towing comes in handy when I have to move the tractor or put the boat in. Gas mileage with the Hemi could be better, but otherwise I have no complaints. Just a good, a well rounded vehicle.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I think full size Pick-up trucks fall into this category of car too. Something I always liked about he Wrangler. Nobody makes (sells) a better one in the US. No matter how much money you have you can’t get a better Wrangler. If you buy a Porsche someone can buy a Ferrari, ect ect. But if you have millions there is still isn’t anyhting better to replace it with.

    • 0 avatar
      Boxerman

      Go to nantucket, the peak above the wrangler for the blue bloods is an old land rover.

      But I agree hard to beat a wrangler. Too bad the tow rating is artificialy low.

  • avatar
    Skink

    Mr. Baruth wrote the Commander is horrible to operate. I wish he would expand on this. Sergio has even wondered as to whom the Commander was intended. The visual proportions of the Commander strongly remind me of the previous Cherokee. Its upright appearance also harkens back to the Wagoneer.

    Can someone help me out about why the Commander sucks? On paper and in a test drive, it looks like a lot of vehicle for the money. Just hit the high or low notes. Thanks.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “…now takes Instagram “models” from the Dubai airport to the penthouses of the sheikhs….”

    priceless!

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Say what you like about Range Rover but no company gets close to competing with its best products. Bmw and Mercedes have tried and in my view failed. Jeep would need to be at the top of its game to beat them and then some….

  • avatar
    BrunoT

    Best American made car? It’s nice looking in the right trim, comfortable, good tech, and a nice interior. Then there’s the horrific long term year after year reliability ratings, crude handling and steering, and mediocre dynamics. Way to set the bar low.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Besides, there are good car companies that make cars in the USA too, like Honda and Toyota. For people that don’t know much about cars, they also make the not-so-costed-out Mercedes-Benz CUVs that the GC is based on here.

  • avatar
    SCfanboy

    Brilliant writing JB. You had me at Veblen.

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    Jack’s social commentary is, as always, spot on. But Sergio’s point is about making money. To build a Range Rover costs only marginally more than building a Grand Cherokee, but the Range Rover commands a far higher price, and hence a far greater profit. Of course FCA can build a better Land Rover. What they can’t do, as yet, is get anyone to pay 100 grand for it.

    I’m not sure how much of that old-money demographic exists anymore. Shopping for shoes, for example, I can easily find Ferragamo and Versace in Toronto, but not Church’s or Trickers. Nobody cares about quality. The top of the market all about vulgarity, flash and designer tags.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Marchionne is right. Jeeps probably can’t be positioned to sell for six figure prices in the US, but the $70k-ish range ala the Land Cruiser is totally achievable. (The SRTs already have MSRPs that are around that level.)

    Jeep is the best brand in the FCA portfolio, and he should wring it for all that it’s worth. (With enough luck, it will pay for those Alfas that are behind schedule.)

  • avatar
    superbuick

    Well written article, Jack. As I sit in my home office and look out the window into the driveway I’m gazing upon a 2003 Grand Cherokee Limited with 190k miles, and a 2014 Grand Cherokee Limited with far fewer. Both have V8s and the top of the line 4wd system, as we do occasionally use them off road. Their strengths lie in their excellent ride and handling, good space, and (for us at least) their solid reliability. For the money, we havent found another SUV with the blend of amenities, ride, handling, capability, and price (not to mention looks) that can compete. The toyota 4runner is perhaps the closest. Having rented such monstrosities as the new Nissan Pathfinder, I’ve often wondered aloud when seeing buyers competing SUVs on the road; “haven’t these people ever heard of the Grand Cherokee?” They tow well (particularly the ’14 with the hemi and self leveling suspension) and are unstoppable in the snow (the quadra drive system is worth every penny).

    Weaknesses? Brakes. Both the 03 and the 14, and the 2008 we owned in between, are borderline dangerously under-braked. I’m basically redoing the front brakes (including rebuilding the calipers and a full bleed of the system) every 2 years. The solid axle front end on the ’03 is hard on ball joints, tie rods, etc, but with normal maintenance (and an upgrade to parts with grease fittings) has been far better than it was with the stock pieces. The ’14 has a recall about every 3rd day for some little thing, none of which has affected the usability or capability of the vehicle. I do hate the throttle delay in the “eco” mode and I turn that off immediately after starting the engine.

    I believe you hit the nail on the head with this article. We could afford a fancier SUV or vehicle, but we don’t choose to, because the Grand Cherokees do everything we need them to do, they do it well, and provide a level of luxury that is well above what you would expect for the price range (I consider capability to be a luxury feature)

    I’ll see you at the race track, Jack :-D

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My biggest beef with the GC is (and always has been) the lack of cargo space behind the rear seats, or with them folded. I also wish the current trucks just had an inch or so extra ground clearance without resorting to a failure prone air suspension. To me, there’s a bit too much of the “Utility” in SUV missing in the Grand Cherokee. A three row GC that didn’t look fat and low to the ground like the Durango would be a winner. The current 4Runner is absolutely perfectly sized and proportioned IMO, let’s not talk about the predator face. 47cu ft behind the second row with seats up, 90cu ft with seats down, that is HUGE. And despite that, exterior dimensions are still very manageable. Add to all that, very good clearance without relying on a finicky air suspension. Of course, the 4Runner gives up a lot in ride and handling to the GC, and a bit of fuel economy.

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    First the Suburban was equally an imposing vehicle in the 80s, 90s, and 00s especially when compared to MOST of what was on American roads then.

    “The Suburban became both oversized and overtly menacing in appearance.” Um no. The difference in size between a 1987 Surburban and a 2015 is for the wheelbase less than a inch. Length: less than 5 inches. Width: less than an inch. Height: about the same. I don’t get where “oversized” came from, but the truck itself has not grown anywhere as much as other vehicles have from the 70s or 80s.

  • avatar

    I have no quarrel with Jack’s analysis of the past, but his analysis of the future is highly problematic. As liberals continue to make America more like Europe, the tastes of the general population change. For a union leader, a Unified District director, a federal regulator, or a university diversity administrator, a crass pimpmobile like Rover is a status vehicle, not something from which to avert eyes. The old, worked-for wealth gone, the new tax-supported wealth in vogue. Keep that in mind and consider Sergio merely being foresightful.

  • avatar
    kevnsd

    Jack you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head. Sergio should send you a 6 figure check, a Viper SRT TA and a bucket of options for this analysis.

    To your question “Shouldn’t that be enough?” here’s my answer… kill the Durango and add a long wheel base / 3 row option to every one of the current Grand Cherokee models. I’ve heard that this might be coming.

    I just bought a 2015 Highlander Limited but would have rather bought a LWB Grand Cherokee Citadel. Had no interest in the Durango… even though I know that other than the badges and trim details these are the same vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      Highlander is solid for daily duties, super reliable, amazing resale and the interior/exterior can still look nice after years if the owners kids don’t trash it to hard.

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