QOTD: Missed Opportunities, Thy Name Is Grand Wagoneer?

Today’s Question of the Day was generated by some comments on yesterday’s post regarding the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer. There, it was clear that two divergent camps of opinion were present regarding the model’s long hiatus.

Let’s explore this a little further.

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QOTD: Are There Any Collectibles Amongst the Rubble?

Monday’s QOTD post by Matthew Guy inquiring about some of the seriously overpriced metal on today’s collector car market got me thinking. And what it got me thinking about was the present state of cars, and if there’s going to be much worthy of collecting at a later date.

We’re in some dark times, automotively speaking. Allow me to explain.

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No Fixed Abode: Is the Liberty Ready for Its Cherokee Moment?

Somewhere in my basement there’s an issue of Roundel, the BMW club magazine, that contains an extremely passionate and forceful article regarding a new vehicle from Munich. The author goes on in considerable detail regarding the new car’s size, weight, and insane complexity. He rails against the dilution of BMW’s Autobahn heritage and the compromises the firm is making to attract a wider audience. Lastly, he offers his sincere condolences to the shade-tree mechanics because this new car will be impossible to service anywhere but a dealership.

Those of you who read Roundel back in the day will no doubt guess that this flabby, super-computerized BMW was, in fact, the 1977 320i.

But here’s the thing: All of the complaints in the article were valid. It’s just that the E30 which followed made the E21 320i look fairly simple. The E36 was a rocketship compared to its predecessor and the E46 was a spaceship. Each time the cars changed, the enthusiast base swore loyalty to the relative simplicity and fitness-for-purpose of the old one. Then, as the stock of decent used inventory dwindled and the parts became impossible to find and the lap times continues to sink, that base made a slow and painful transition to the next model in line. This in no way invalidates criticism of the old cars. It’s just that for most people, they had no choice other than to upgrade. It’s possible to keep an old mechanical watch in daily use; it’s not tough at all to keep carrying a Remington-Rand-made Colt pistol from 1942. But cars are vastly more complex than either of those machines.

When the Jeep Liberty replaced the old “XJ” Cherokee, it was universally reviled as a cutesy piece of garbage better suited for the mall crawl than the rock crawl. Alas, tempus fugit and it’s now time for the old Liberty to get a second act.

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Jeep Recalling 48,990 Cherokees Over Fire Risk

The 2018 Jeep Cherokee is under recall due to some improperly fitted fuel tubes. As the issue relates to the possibility of a gas leak, this falls under the fire-risk category and should have people freaking out left and right. However, the problem is only associated with Cherokees equipped with the 16-valve 2.4-liter inline-four engine.

FCA’s internal report, according to the recall filing, noted that an investigation revealed “a batch of fuel-supply tubes may have connectors that were incorrectly fitted” on the 2018 model year. Fortunately, the refreshed Jeeps for 2019 don’t appear to be affected.

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Junkyard Find: 1995 Jeep Cherokee Right-hand Drive
The XJ Jeep Cherokee has been in production for nearly 35 years (if you count the BAW Knight S12, which I do) and remains very popular as a daily driver in Colorado, so I see many discarded examples in Denver-area wrecking yards.It takes a special XJ to inspire me to shoot photographs for this series — a pink camouflage paint job, for example, or a tape-stripey Sport Cherokee with manual transmission. A right-hand drive, Japanese-market Cherokee qualifies, so let’s take a look at this one in a Denver self-service yard.
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2018 Jeep Wrangler Capable Off-Road; In Other News, Water Wet

Jeep really loves touting its off-road heritage, along with the capability of its current stable of SUVs. To that end, FCA invited Chicago-area automotive media out to play in the mud at an off-road park in central Illinois.

The very same off-road park in which I stuffed a Ford Raptor into the mud, multiple times.

Even though this was not a traditional first drive, and I’d driven both the new Wrangler and new Cherokee off-road – one in Arizona, the other in California – I wanted a little more time with both away from the pavement. Especially since the never-ending winter of 2018 provided rain and snow in the days leading up to the drive.

That meant there’d be mud, and lots of it.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: American Luxury SUVs From 1992

We’ve been on a Nineties streak lately, and our last four editions of Buy/Drive/Burn have all taken place within the decade. Well, ready your baggy beige suit and adjust its extensive shoulder pad region, because today we talk 1992. Specifically, Gtem suggested three luxury SUVs which were very popular with middle-class families across the country.

Ford, Oldsmobile, and AMC Jeep — which makes it to your garage?

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2019 Jeep Cherokee First Drive - Refreshed Looks in Search of a Power Boost

Jeep loves to brag about how capable its SUVs are off-road, and the brand can back it up. But considering that most folks who purchase SUVs use them only on-road, does rock-crawling ability outweigh on-road performance?

For most buyers, I suspect the answer is no. That could be a bit of a problem for the refreshed 2019 Jeep Cherokee.

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Ace of Base: 2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude

When the last Cherokee showed up in 2014, its front fascia was comprised of an alarming set of headlights set deep into a scowling bumper, paired with toenail-clipping DRLs at the leading edge of its hood. It was distinctive, to be kind.

This year at Detroit, a refreshed Cherokee took the FCA stage, sporting a handsome new mug that apes the corporate face. With detailed pricing recently released, there’s no better time to see if Jeep’s trucklet can pass the Ace of Base test.

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2019 Jeep Cherokee Gets New Engine to Go With New Face

We know from spy photos that the refreshed 2019 Jeep Cherokee will (finally) ditch its awkward stacked headlamps, instead adopting a conventional setup that doesn’t make the vehicle look like it’s squinting. The look is more in keeping with the second-generation Compass and Grand Cherokee.

Expect very little outcry over this sensible and long overdue decision.

However, an updated fascia isn’t the only change in store for 2019. The midcycle revamp also brings a new powerplant sourced from the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, documents show.

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Freaky Friday: When Your Free Jeep Cherokee Recall Costs $24,000

Lucky is the new car buyer who isn’t saddled with a trip to the dealer for recall work within the first few years of ownership. The modern age provides us with a great many wonderful things — avocadoes year-round, transmission cogs we can count on all 10 fingers, UberEATS — but it hasn’t turned the average vehicle into a paragon of reliability.

Last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a recall for 323,400 2014 and 2015 Jeep Cherokees, as well as 2015 Renegades, Chrysler 200s, and Ram ProMasters. FCA threw the 2018 Fiat 500X in there for good measure. The problem stemmed from the automaker’s finicky nine-speed automatic transmission. Thanks to insufficient crimps in the transmission sensor cluster’s wire harness (and the subsequent trouble code sent to the vehicle’s diagnostic system), some owners suddenly found their Jeep, Chrysler or Ram coasting along in neutral — a default position — instead of drive. Can’t have that.

The recall — a minor fix — didn’t seem like a big deal. The vehicles would normally be drivable (for a time, anyway) after the engine was shut off and turned back on again, making a trip to the nearest certified FCA dealership relatively trouble-free. For one Cherokee owner, however, the repair work stood to cost him $2,000 more than what he paid for the vehicle.

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Jeep's U.S. Sales Down 13 Percent This Year: Right Where We Wanna Be?

If the rate of growth FCA’s Jeep brand experienced in the United States in 2016 could be carried forward into 2017, Jeep would sell 1,000,000 SUVs/crossovers this year.

Count the zeros. 1 million.

For a company that sold fewer than 300,000 vehicles per year coming out of the recession, that’s an absurd figure.

Jeep earned 5.4 percent of the overall auto market in the first half of 2016, yet through the first half of 2017, Jeep’s market share has taken a dive to 4.8 percent. In a market gone mad for utility vehicles — where sales of SUVs/crossovers are up 6 percent, year-over-year, despite the market’s downturn — no-car Jeep is losing sales faster than every auto brand aside from Chrysler and Smart.

Worrying? According to Jeep boss Mike Manley, Jeep is, “exactly where I thought we would be in the U.S.”

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Dial Down the Base: Troublesome Fiat Chrysler Models Due for a Trim Shuffle

Sure, there’s no vinyl bench seats and standard Slant Six engine, but this isn’t 1981 and Chrysler Corporation isn’t trying to boost sales by stripping down a LeBaron and calling it Special. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is, however, trying to make three models more appealing to the buying masses, meaning trim changes are afoot for 2018.

What models, you ask? Two very old sedans and a crossover. According to ordering documents sent to dealers, FCA plans to ratchet down the entry-level price of the 2018 Chrysler 300 and Jeep Cherokee, while also shaking up the bottom end of the Dodge Charger.

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Stretched Chinese Jeep Concept Could Preview Chrysler Crossover

Chinese car buyers are big fans of stretched American midsize sedans, and extra-long crossovers are seen as the next logical way for U.S. automakers to woo buyers into the brand.

In China, where Jeep began production of the Cherokee in late 2015, a new vehicle has appeared online ahead of the Shanghai Auto Show. Rather than a longer Cherokee, the concept in the image seems to preview an entirely new three-row Jeep that could see a different body and badge in North America.

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Jeep's New Compass and Old Cherokee Are About to Step All Over Each Other

We knew that Jeep’s redesigned small crossover was going to be sized up, priced up, and niced up in order to avoid cannibalizing the Renegade. What we didn’t know was that Jeep would dump it into the KL Cherokee’s lap like a scalding cup of coffee. At $22,090, the base 2017 Compass is only a stone’s throw away from the larger model’s pre-destination price of $23,695 MSRP.

Worse still is that Fiat Chrysler’s inability to update or enhance the Jeep Cherokee in any meaningful way has helped sales implode in recent months. The KL was Jeep’s top selling model in 2015, with 220,260 units sold in the United States, but it took a sales hit of almost 30,000 vehicles the following year and saw a noticeably weaker beginning for 2017.

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  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.