By on May 23, 2016

2013 Jeep Trailhawk II Front

Don’t do it for us. Do it for yourself.

Jeep is not a purveyor of transportation appliances. It creates and markets lifestyle products built on its off-road reputation. And the brand is not well positioned to compete in the increasingly crowded SUV/CUV space based purely on quality and everyday performance. But that’s okay, because Jeep can drive growth by playing to the strengths that brought it 865,000 customers last year, the essence of which is extreme off-road capability.

Jeep sales grew a dizzying 25 percent in the United States last year. Through the first third of 2016, the brand is tracking for two-percent growth. Blowing past the elusive one million sales mark in the U.S., and staying there, will not be easy. The Wrangler will continue to anchor the emotional identity of the brand, but Jeep would benefit from diversification as the top. To continue its impressive seven consecutive years of growth, Jeep should offer two distinct, yet equally capable products that speak to enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike.

Jeep needs to build a hardcore, off-road version of the Grand Cherokee.

(Read More…)

By on April 23, 2016

2015 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Overland

Like an unoccupied Dodge Charger stuck in “Drive,” Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ gear selector controversy was rapidly building momentum before yesterday’s announcement.

Responding to numerous instances of runaway vehicles and an expanding National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation, FCA voluntarily recalled 811,586 vehicles in the U.S. and 52,144 in Canada, and a further 265,473 in Mexico and overseas. (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2015

Jeep Czech Republic Moose Test Photo

Oops! Have you tried maneuvers like this? #Jeep

One great thing about PR and marketing is that you can often turn a massive fail into a great win — like when a Slovak PR agency for Mercedes-Benz posted a picture of the new CLA Shooting Brake next to a pool.

A random commenter said he’d like them to take the Merc for a swim. Mercedes’ PR agency replied, “If your post gets more than 1,000 likes, you can choose whether we reverse or powerslide the car into the pool.”

Naturally, the post got nearly 2,000 likes within hours. Mercedes responded with a nicely done video of CLA Shooting Brake getting drowned by a Black Stig, promising they would hire their social media manager back if more than 1,000 people shared the video. In the end, Mercedes drew a great deal attention to their new rakish wagon and lost nothing.

Unfortunately for Jeep Czech Republic, sometimes a fail is just a fail — like a few days ago when the official Czech importer of Jeep posted the photo you see above of a Grand Cherokee getting up on two wheels.

(Read More…)

By on November 26, 2015

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude side

Editor’s note: This review originally ran February 27th, 2015. It’s the most read review of the last 12 months. You should read it again.

The current Grand Cherokee has been a huge success for the Jeep brand. The handsome vehicle is available with four engines, five drivelines, and in many trims, best of which can give the Range Rover a run for its money. The Altitude, introduced for 2014, is an interesting model, where Jeep takes many desirable features, wraps them in a monotone exterior with sporty black wheels, and prices the package well.

In the past I have reviewed Grand Cherokees with V8 and diesel engines. The Overland V8 felt like a hot-rod with tons of instant power but the fuel economy was predictably poor. The EcoDiesel is a smooth operator with a ton of torque and great gas mileage, but it comes at a high price. Could this nicely optioned V6 model be the happy medium?

(Read More…)

By on November 17, 2015

00 - 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee in Colorado  junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The value of a first-generation Grand Cherokee that’s even slightly rough crashed hard quite a few years ago and has remained just a hair above scrap value ever since, so junkyards here in SUV-crazed Colorado tend to be packed with these trucks. XJ Cherokees are plentiful as well, but I tend to notice them more than the bigger and more Chryslerated Grands.

This ’97, however, is one of the (presumably) super-rare Orvis Editions, and so I broke out the camera when I saw it in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)

By on October 20, 2014

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Despite an effort to consolidate SRT vehicles under the Dodge brand, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT will stick around for the immediate future.

(Read More…)

By on July 5, 2014

2014-Jeep-Grand-Cherokee-EcoDiesel-4

To most North American consumers, diesel is an exotic powertrain option, full of promise when it comes to torque and efficiency. It rarely delivers on the promise.

(Read More…)

By on February 3, 2014

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No, this isn’t my new car. That’s still two weeks away, at least, as the wheels of the insurance machine grind exceedingly fine. It’s the next closest thing to my new car — my father’s new car. Insofar as he bought it at my direct suggestion, and insofar as no manufacturer has ever given us a long-term Cayenne or Mulsanne or all the other piggy vehicles cluttering up apartment garages everywhere from Automobile to Autoblog, we’ll take our long-termers where we can get them.
(Read More…)

By on January 16, 2014

2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-002

Car shopping used to be so simple: you could buy a truck or a car. Then came the wagon, minivan, sport utility and the latest craze: the crossover. There’s just one problem with the crossover for me however: it’s not a crossover. With a name like that you’d assume that a modern crossover blended the lines between a truck/SUV with a car/minivan. The reality of course is that the modern three-row crossover is just a front-driving minivan that doesn’t handle as well or haul as much stuff. In this sea of transverse minivans in SUV clothing lies just one mass-market vehicle that I can honestly call a three-row crossover: the Dodge Durango. Instead of a car that’s been turned into an AWD minivan with a longer hood, the Dodge uses drivetrains out of the RAM 1500 combined with a car-like unibody. While rumors swirled that the Durango would be canceled in favor of a 7-seat Jeep, Dodge was working a substantial makeover for 2014. (Read More…)

By on January 8, 2014

I live in a small, genteel, Southern colonial home that comes with all the local goodies.

An over-sized ceiling fan in every room. A little front porch that offers a palatial view of the rolling prairies of Deliverance country.

Throw in a mint julep, homemade lemonade, and the belting baritone of Paul Robeson, and the world becomes my oyster.

Except not right now. It’s too damn cold outside. Which got me to thinking…

(Read More…)

By on January 2, 2014

gl_algtest-jeep-grand-cherokee001

You may recall that a couple of years ago there was a mild brouhaha when Sweden’s Teknikens Värld said that the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee failed the publication’s “moose test” in a dangerous manner, almost rolling over when performing the accident avoidance maneuver. At speeds as low as 37.9 mph (61 kmh) the ’12 Grand Cherokee lifted its inside wheels without any intervention by the vehicle’s electronic stability and anti-rollover systems. Since then, the Grand Cherokee has been completely redesigned and as part of a comparison test of the Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD, the BMW X5 and the Range Rover Sport for their February 2014 issue, Teknikens Värld put the 2014 JGC through their moose test. They were “delighted” to report that the new Grand Cherokee, loaded according to its Swedish certificate of registration (6,501 lbs), passed the test with flying colors, “a perfect result for a big car” is how they described the test. The video won’t embed here so you’ll have to visit the Teknikens Värld website to check out how the 2014 edition of the SUV’s nannies keep all four wheels on the ground. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2013

2000 Jeep Grand Comance Project Car

If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a new project car in TTAC’s “garage,” a 2000 Grand Cherokee Limited. I of course use the term garage simply because “gravel driveway” fails to have the same ring. Why a car guy doesn’t have a garage is a story for a different time. All I will say on the matter is that I was promised a garage with a 2-post lift and I am still waiting…  Back to the car. Before we chop the lid off the WJ Grand Cherokee to convert it into a two door, two seat Grand Comanche we needed to tackle a few projects. We need a lift kit, off-road rubber, then we need to ditch the interior and take care of some general housekeeping items.

(Read More…)

By on September 13, 2013

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I would normally start a car review with an item of trivia or history about the vehicle under review, or about the segment in general. This time I’m going to start by talking about the elephant in the room: the 2014 4Runner SR5/Trail front end. Yikes! I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when the attractive new 2014 Tundra pulled away revealing the 2014 4Runner, I was reminded of a woman I worked with in 1998. Drawn in by the promise of eternal good looks, she had her eyebrows surgically removed and lines tattooed on her face. The only problem was the tattoo artist (accidentally?) gave her a permanently surprised “eyebrows”. Oops. Perhaps the 4Runner also regrets going under the knife and that’s why the fog lamp slits make it look like it’s crying. What say the best and brightest? Click through the jump and sound off in the comment section.

(Read More…)

By on July 29, 2013

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My junior year of high school involved a social studies course taught by a dour, acid-tongued woman, a Scottish leftist in the tradition of George Galloway, who delighted in admonishing us for our bad behavior by labeling us “a bunch of spoiled, upper-middle class brats”. Well, guilty as charged for this writer. Despite the not-so-hidden proletarian contempt she may have had for us, I credit her with teaching a lesson on the Simon-Erlich wager, an event that proved formative in shaping my view of the world.

(Read More…)

By on July 12, 2013

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I got a call from my folks a year ago. It went something like this: “your mom wants a new Grand Cherokee for her birthday, what do you think?” I called up Chrysler and snagged a 2013 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, the last major Mercedes/Chrysler vehicle to launch before Fiat took the reins. I came to the conclusion the American Range Rover was all kinds of crazy, had drivetrain deficiencies and she should wait until the 2014 refresh. That refresh has landed, so should mom buy one?

(Read More…)

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