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Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler
#361 of 542 How To Kill A Legend
Nov 14, 2006 (10:00 am)
Since it’s fall of 2006 we are now seeing the 2007s on most dealer lots, sooooo…. I of course have a rant! No, my rant is not about Toyota and how they are not really committed to the North American off-road segment – that’s already been well established. Rather, it’s about Jeep and DaimlerChrysler. Yes, there is a rift in the Jeep brand that has been growing ever since the cancellation of the beloved 4.0L Cherokee Sport and the introduction of the Liberty. At the same time Jeep introduced the Wrangler Rubicon, a vehicle most 4x4 publications and off-roaders alike, state is the most trail capable vehicle to produced by an auto manufacturer BAR NONE. Most of you are aware of this. However the rift continues to widen!
While the 2007 Wrangler Rubicon is apparently even more capable than the outgoing Wrangler Rubicon TJ, Daimler has seen fit to introduce the Jeep Compass! An overhead cam 4 cylinder, car-like vehicle with the ground clearance of a stiletto. With no low range capability available, and a acres of plastic inside and out, IFS (and I believe IRS) how can anybody with a straight face call this a JEEP!?!? Not to mention that the front bumper comes up on each side at the corners of the grille to make it look like a chipmunk with its cheek stuffed full of nuts! This thing is truly a PILE right from the back widow spoiler right down to the all season radials!
The deletion of solid axles from the Grand Cherokee line up, the lack of them on the Commander and the so called Jeep Patriot, have really turned almost all of the traditional Jeep owners from ever being seen near one of these vehicles much less owning one! Yes Daimler has the nerve to produce something like the Commander, which ‘looks’ a lot like the kind of Jeep that we have grown to love, but underneath is really just an IFS Grand Cherokee. Yet Chrysler insists that it’s a real Jeep in the true historical sense! Well, Chrysler we’re not buying it – Literally!
With the very real exception of the Wrangler, us Jeepers see the brand name devolving into becoming just another me-too label that produces the same kind of middle of the road, attempts everything, but really is not good at anything, type of vehicles. These type of vehicles have been the domain of GM, Ford, Nissan, Toyota (in North America) for the past 10 years or more, and now Jeep seems more than willing to slip into this abyss of mediocrity! Daimler’s efforts regarding the Rubicon are well noted and well appreciated by off-roaders, however the dilution of the ‘Jeep’ brand name with the introduction of all these other, less than lame models is overwhelmingly pulling the name down. If you want to build something like the Compass, then fine, but don’t call it a Jeep! If they keep this up I’ll soon be embarrassed to drive anything that has a ‘Jeep’ badge; it will become known as the ‘has been off-road label’.
My message to DaimlerChrysler is: better wake up fast!!! You’re killing a legendary name and alienating your diehard core supporters.
- end rant -
#362 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [fourx4ever]
Nov 14, 2006 (2:16 pm)
No, I think that DC will have to try a lot harder than that to kill the Jeep image.
Take 100 non-automotive enthusiast adult members of the car buying public, and show them pictures of all DC's Jeep offerings except the Wrangler. I doubt if more than ten would identify them as Jeep products.
However, show the same 100 people a picture of a Wrangler and I'd guess that at least 99 would smile and say "Jeep!".
Most people don't find it practical to own one, but they will identify it as one of America's most recognized and loved icons.
I might be embarrassed to be seen in a Compass, but never in my Wrangler.
#363 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [fourx4ever]
Nov 14, 2006 (7:00 pm)
I too believe DCX is polluting the Jeep brand. The Compass IS a car, it is based on the Dodge Caliber platform. Fugly as hell, too! I was also sorry to see the 4.0L I6 replaced by the 3.8 V6, and the 2 door Unlimited dropped in favor of the 4-door. One thing I don't understand is why they don't offer the new (mopar) 4.0L V6 that has 260hp and 265lb/ft in the Wrangler, especially in the Rubicon. I guess I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for an '04-'06 2 Door Unlimited Rubicon at a good price....
#364 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [mac24]
Nov 15, 2006 (8:38 am)
You may be right about the results of such a survey, however if you're poling the non-car buying public what difference does it make? - they're not buying the cars.
It's the people that have the cash to buy the cars that Chrysler should be concerned with. Really, before 2003 (Liberty introduction) there was a very good reason to buy the Jeep brand over the Softroaders that all the other companies were pumping out. All the Jeeps offered true off-road ability. Moreover, they ALL had the ability to be built into hard core off-road machines for not very much work or money given the HUGE aftermarket parts selection.
Fast forward to 2007 model year where there is really only one true off-road Jeep left in the line up that has potential to be modified to a true hard core off-roader. All the other Jeeps are either 'Wus You Vees' or cute Utes like the compass. DaimlerChrysler is making a huge mistake here.
#365 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [fourx4ever]
by Stever@Edmunds HOST
Nov 15, 2006 (8:58 am)
DC probably thinks the pool of hard core off-roaders is much smaller than the pool of potential soft-roader buyers. Maybe they can't afford to cater to you guys with more than the Rubicon?
#366 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [fourx4ever]
Nov 15, 2006 (10:06 am)
however if you're poling the non-car buying public what difference does it make? - they're not buying the cars.
I think you may have misread it. What I said was:
"Take 100 non-automotive enthusiast adult members of the car buying public........."
The point I was trying to make was that the Wrangler will always remain the very embodiment of what a "Jeep" is in the eyes of the public, whether they're car enthusiasts or not. Even if DC brings out a minivan and slaps a Jeep label on it, the perception of the all american Jeep icon living in the form of the present day Wrangler won't change.
This doesn't mean I like what DC is doing with the Jeep name though. From the 6.1 Hemi powered GC SRT8 road rocket, to the bleh Commander, to the "what were they thinking" Compass, they seem to be trying a scatter gun "all things to all people" approach, rather than sticking to historical core Jeep values.
However, I agree with Steve's comment that the market will probably only support one 'true' offroad vehicle in the lineup, and if that's correct, what better than for the Wrangler to be that vehicle?
#367 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [steve_]
Nov 15, 2006 (10:42 am)
I’m almost 100% sure that you are right about DC thinking that the pool of hard core off-roaders is the smaller piece of pie. That being said there is a real irony here:
Many soccer moms, urban commuters, and daddy’s little rich girls, buy SUVs. Most of the reasons theses people buy such vehicles is not because they even want to take the beginner level off-road trail, or that they could even encounter bad weather in the winter. The main reason is IMAGE! Yes, they think it’s cool to drive an SUV. It gives them the image of being ‘outdoorsy’, rugged or perhaps powerful. The association of this image was brought about mostly by the entertainment media: Countless images of the Jeep ‘winning’ World War II and in M.A.S.H. Watching John Wayne in Hatari cruising Africa rounding up animals for the Zoo in a Jeep CJ-6. The Range Rover and Jeep Rubicon in Tomb Raider I & II. The Jeep J-10 Pick up in Twister and Tremors. The many Jeeps that were cast in the Matthew McConaughey movie Sahara. The numerous times we have seen Land Cruisers in Africa among zebras and lions.
In every one of these cases we saw REAL, trail capable off-road vehicles pulling real off-road duty. The soccer moms and urban drivers flock to these films and aspire to have at least a small part of this action, if not for just show to impress there friends. In the early days they purchases the real Jeeps, LRs, and LCs with solid axles and in line six engines, but soon found that the ride was rougher, noisier and it didn’t have all the electronics stuff their mini-van had. They complained about this, the auto journalists complained about this, and so the pressure was on to make a softroader. No matter that this new cushy cute ute ride they now had could never do even 25% of the original vehicles that created this image. The uniformed public bought them not knowing their investments shortcomings when compared to the originals.
Now almost nobody makes a true honest off-road machine. So the image will fade because the originator of the image has been killed (mostly). And soon I predict that people will lose interest in these softroaders because it’s a sham as much fake eyelashes, imitation leather, and Milli Vanilli. Once the (ignorant) public realizes that they are being laughed at by those who created the original off-road image, they will start to their rides in favor of a new trend. What you are seeing here is just such a back lash, started at the grass roots by those who need a real vehicle to take the trails – the word is spreading that a Honda CR-V is not quite adequate to take on the Rubicon Trail.
And Mac, sorry if I misunderstood you, your point is well taken.
#368 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [fourx4ever]
Nov 15, 2006 (10:55 am)
As you know, I doubt I'll ever own another jeep but for reasons other than market positioning. I too think DC is making a mistake by abandoning the "trail rated" approach to designing and marketing their products. Doubt you'll see the compass going on the rubicon to prove it's abilities. I at least hope they don't try that ploy.
Used to be that Jeep stood for off-road capability. Now it doesn't... they've passed that badge to Wrangler. No one would argue that Jeep is better known brand name than Wrangler (both are strong though)
Nothing wrong with catering to the market for more comfort... Land Cruisers have gotten progressively more upscale and comfortable over the years... but have maintained significant off-road ability and are "over built" for strictly on-road use. They don't have the same ability as an FJ40, but better than virtually all other vehicles sold in NA. People will pay for that heritage even if they never plan to go off road. Now Jeeps is marketing a compass that might as well compete with the Kia Sodona.
This approach would be similar to Porsche building a non-performace economobile... cheapens the brand.
#369 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [steenh]
Nov 15, 2006 (12:52 pm)
Good analogy about the Porsche building the economy car to what Jeep is doing. There is no doubt that it will hurt the Jeep name in some respects.
Jeep has dominated the off-road awards in magazines like fourwheeler, and petersons off-road more than any other brand. When you look back over the past 30 years or so Jeep has had more than anybody else even Toyota. Somehow I doubt if that trend will continue if DC keeps this up.
#370 of 542 Re: How To Kill A Legend [fourx4ever]
Nov 16, 2006 (5:29 am)
Many soccer moms, urban commuters, and daddy’s little rich girls, buy SUVs. Most of the reasons theses people buy such vehicles is not because they even want to take the beginner level off-road trail, or that they could even encounter bad weather in the winter. The main reason is IMAGE! Yes, they think it’s cool to drive an SUV. It gives them the image of being ‘outdoorsy’, rugged or perhaps powerful.
Lots of posers. While perusing the Rubicon listings on eBay a couple weeks ago, I saw one that had been lifted, jumbo mudder tires, winch, even a SNORKEL! Then: NEVER BEEN OFF-ROAD!!!
Now why, on God's Earth, would you spend all the money for all those mods, if you never intended to go off-road?!? A snorkel??? Was he thinking he might have to ford a river while traversing I-395?!?