Save the Jeeps

The ship is sinking and there is but ONE cargo on board that’s worth saving. Sales are down and the concept vehicles don’t promise much hope for the future. The big government bailed out the big three. Actually, that’s only 33% true. Ford revamped it’s entire fleet, drastically improved quality and took not one single dollar from the government to do it. (Kudos to Ford). The other two took significant bail outs from The Bank of Obama, member FDIC*. GM is cutting costs and is at least acting like they want to survive. The other….not so much. If somehow you haven’t guessed who I’m talking about you can stop straining your last remaining brain cell because I’ll tell you. The ship is Chrysler and that cargo worth saving is Jeep.

Please, think of the Jeeps…


FACT: Chrysler hasn’t been worth anything since the days where mullet sporting drag racers actually knew what the word “Mopar” represented. And to add insult to injury, they’ve just been dug out of bankruptcy by Fiat; the Italian car company that makes unreliable cars no one actually wants. (Unless of course, your name is James May.) The only marginally successful Chrysler vehicles released in recent years were based on platforms resurrected from the Mercedes parts bin. A bin they no longer have access to.

But there is one shining star in the Titanic like wreckage we call Chrysler and it’s Jeep. For the scope of this article I’m only going to talk about the Wrangler which in my opinion, is the only true Jeep left. The funniest part about this whole fiasco is the irony of the situation. Chrysler attempted to make vehicles the consumer needed but ended up making cars they didn’t want. Jeep on the other hand, makes vehicles no one needs but everyone wants. Once more, Jeep has been selling basically the same vehicle for the last 25 years. The Jeep Wrangler was introduced in 1987 with the famous inline 6 engine that remained largely unchanged till 2006 when it was swapped for a shitty V6 (got a bone to pick here but I’ll try and be good).  Live axles in the front and rear, tortuous ride, shit gas mileage, and no trunk…yet it’s a vehicle everyone LOVES. Something about the Jeep just screams fun. Maybe you got the hard top version and took the doors off. Maybe you got the soft top and love getting the fresh air during the summer. Whatever the reason, the Jeep Wrangler has a formula that everyone can appreciate. It’s a vehicle that’s ready for anything you can throw in its path.

Want to go here? Buy a Jeep and a trail guide.

So unlike the captain of the ship, I’d like not to see Jeep go down to Davey Jones’s locker. It’s for this reason I feel like it needs to be saved. The formula has stood the test of time and someone needs to keep it alive. But who? Let’s look at the potentials.


Well this sorta makes sense. If Government Motors acquired Jeep it would keep it “in the family” sort of speak. I think this might work for other reasons too. The new V6’s that have graced the Wrangler in recent years (the EGH and the Pentastar) are arguably two of the shittiest engines boat anchors ever bolted to a drivetrain. (I only said I’d TRY to be good) GM might not be good for a whole lot but they sure build one hell of an engine. Yes, one…THE one and only LSX engine series. Known to most as GHGM**. Plenty of torque and torture tested performance sounds like a perfect fit for the Wrangler. But what does GM know about offroad performance? Well….basically nothing. That’s why I think it’s probably not going to work out….NEXT!


Woah, that makes a whole lot of sense doesn’t it? Land Rover, one of the few companies that still cares about offroad performance. And they are at least somewhat American since they were owned by Ford in the not so distant past. My bearded associate Rob would tell you that the Land Rover Defender D90 is the single best offroad production vehicle on the planet. And truthfully, he’s right. As much as I’d argue that I could buy two Rubicon’s and modify them to be BETTER than the D90 for the same price, he’s absolutely right. Out of the box, nothing beats a D90; nothing. But with used examples of the D90 coming in at over $60,000 here in the states, it’s not exactly a cheap. And that right there is the problem. If Jeep was absorbed into Land Rover you could get Land Rover performance and the badge to go with it for less than half the price. Careful you, the marketing department just put a hit out on you. The Wrangler can’t coexist in the Land Rover brand because it would be priced at such a high level no one would buy it anymore….NEXT!


All of our mullet and Hemi loving friends just felt a disturbance in the force. Yes, I said it. Jeep would indeed be better off in the hands of the Japanese. Let’s face it, Italy is good at making things fast and sexy but not so great at making them tough and reliable. The only time an Italian vehicle leaves the road is when it’s going so fast the driver won’t survive. Toyota has an extraordinary legacy of making outrageously tough vehicles that are unstoppable offroad. The FJ, the 4Runner, the Land Cruiser, the Tacoma(duh), and the NEW FJ. All of these vehicles are virtually incapable of being harmed by the elements (or Top Gear) and soldier on no matter what. Plus the company hasn’t completely lost it’s way either. I’d argue that Toyota is the only brand today that offers a similar vehicle to the Wrangler at an affordable price. Really, other than the FJ what else is there? Not only do I think the soul of Jeep would survive if it were taken over by Toyota; I actually think it would improve. And that’s the God’s honest truth.


*FDIC: Funded by Debt In Crazyland

**God’s Horsepower Gift to Man

16 Responses to Save the Jeeps

  1. Landon says:

    I hate Chrysler with all my heart and think they have horrible products besides Cummins Ram powered trucks, the Viper, and of course the JEEP (Our Colorado car is a 2012 Wrangler Rubicon). However, they must be doing something right after FIAT took the helm. Last month the automaker sold 142,041 units, up 12 percent from September 2011. Car sales rose 27 percent to 42,050, while sales of light trucks climbed 6 percent to 99,991.Through September, Chrysler Group’s sales totaled 1,250,670, up 24 percent. All of the automaker’s brands posted gains in September, with Ram recording the smallest gain at 4 percent and Fiat 500 the largest at 51 percent. Chrysler said six of its vehicles had record September sales. So what’s the deal with this? Statistics don’t lie unfortunately, but what is interesting is FIAT is doing something the Daimler group could not (generate sales). What is interesting is although the truck and jeep market did post gains its there compact and smaller counterparts that are generating the most revenue (typical with automakers). Toyota for example would not be where it is without the best selling Camary. Because of these new sales numbers Chrysler will probably end up keeping JEEP. Which is a good thing “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

    I agree with Robert that the Defender 90 is one of the best off road vehicles made. Having had owned and driven many Land Rover products (Currently Range Rover and LR2 a rebadged ford escape that are in the family stable) one thing I can tell you is reliability has not been their forte. When I owned a Land Rover Discover (now LR3 rebranded because “Discovery was synonymous with horrible reliability”) it broke down every other week, and I ended up having to drive our back up Mercedes 560 SEC to school while it was in the shop. The two Ranger Rovers we have had where no better. The most reliable has been the LR2 a ford-designed vehicle. Land Rover is a niche brand as is JEEP and it would be no better with them than with Mercedes (they also have a military designed off road machine know to us as the G-wagon that was not mentioned and very capable off-road).

    The one thing I might agree with you on is that Toyota may make a good fit. But if Toyota where to acquire them what I am concerned about is that JEEP might lose its soul in the process. Toyota tends to do that and it has been apparent with the company’s continual loss of market share compared to the energized KIA and Hyundai bases. When I am driving and glance over at the nearby Toyota driver’s drearily parading down the highway to their tasks, they just look bored and I can’t help but think of the book 1984. When I look at someone in a JEEP I think damn they must be going to some place fun, and I end up wondering what trail or off road adventure they are going to tackle today.

  2. Landon,

    Excellent (and well written) response. I agree that the Land Rover brand has never been very reliable. What I find interesting is how tough they are off road and how they’ll keep going through quite a bit. Yet somehow the daily task of starting seems to be an impossible task. I myself have never quite understood it.

    I too am torn on the fantasy acquisition of Jeep. But I honestly think the soul would be kept in tact. The re-introduction of the FJ was a VERY bold move by Toyota and I think it’s been well received by enthusiasts. The Tacoma is THE truck of the midsize market. The Frontier is the only thing that comes close and it isn’t. (That sentence was structured that way for a reason; not a typo.) The Camry is absolutely the most mundane vehicle but it’s for a different market. You’re making the mistake of associating the Camry market with all the other products. As a Tacoma owner, do you think I fall into that category? Of course not. The Tacoma was well designed by Toyota to fit an active person’s lifestyle and it hits the nail on the head. They could do the exact same thing with Jeep.

    On your point about Chrysler’s sales I also agree that statistics don’t lie….intentionally. Statistics, if they’re correct, are factual evidence but sometimes they represent different things than we think. Sales are up a good bit but that’s not that hard when you’re sales numbers are shit to begin with. Think about these three points.

    1) If my friend Angel sells 1 car in August and he sells 2 in September he can report that his sales numbers improved by 100%. Which is great but the only thing that matters is does he make enough money to cover his bills? And for Chrysler the answer is no.

    2) The car Angel sold in August netted him $1000 (niiiiice). In September he wanted to sell two cars (as stated above) so he decided to lower the prices on two cars. This made it more attractive to buyers and he sold two cars. Now he gets to report his 100% sales increase to his boss which is great news. Hopefully he gets a raise because his margin on each car was only $500 and he took home $1000 at the end of September just like he did in August. Again, the sales numbers look great but the only thing that matters is the end take home $$$.

    3) The Fiat 500 sales are up 50% and that’s outstanding. Couple of caveats; the first is the fact that there are no USED Fiat 500′s in the market which mean all sales were pretty much from the dealer. The car is gaining traction and is on the rise but again you have to remember that the car wasn’t sold here in the past so any improvement is HUGE. Also, how much did we spend on advertising a car that isn’t likely to ever be a high volume seller? That super bowl ad certainly wasn’t cheap.

    PS: Remember that “light truck” sales number a few years ago would also include crap like the PT cruiser as referenced by Rob. Again, stats aren’t supposed to skew things but sometimes they do :(

  3. Red Beard says:

    Not sure what sources you are basing your opinions on? The following stats are taken from a recent September 2012 Chrysler press release.

    “Jeep brand sales increased 10 percent, the brand’s best September sales in six years and its 29th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. Two Jeep models had record-setting sales in September. The Jeep Patriot, the best-priced compact SUV in America, logged a 42 percent increase, the largest sales gain of any of the Jeep models and a sales record for the month of September. The iconic Jeep Wrangler also set a sales record for the month of September with its 6 percent sales gain.”

    “The Jeep Grand Cherokee, the brand’s flagship SUV, recorded a 19 percent sales gain and was the brand’s volume leader for the month. It was the Grand Cherokee’s best September in seven years. The Jeep brand announced in September that it is introducing this month the new Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Wrangler Moab editions, both of which feature off-road equipment never before offered on a production Jeep vehicle.”

    Jeep’s Skunkworks created some monumental concept vehicles in 2012. The J12 and Mighty FC introduced themselves as reincarnated retros to the younger generations, therefore fueling the conversations of new potential production lines. They also featured Hemi and Diesel drive train concept configurations in the current JK. These are all signs of a brand testing the waters of what the general public has interest in purchasing.

    I will say that I am rather disappointed in some recent Jeep brand watered down Wheaties box marketing techniques. Throwing celebrities, rappers, and famous basketball players at their cars, doesn’t seem to align with a Jeep owners interests. While the head of the Jeep brand swears his allegiance to the flagship Wrangler’s off-road capability focus his marketing department is trying to sell it as a grocery getter for soccer moms. Aside from the innovations in interior creature comforts of the Wrangler and nixing the junk 3.7L minivan motor we have seen little advancement of the JK since it’s introduction in 2007. What really bugs the hell out of me is this sticker craze that they have gotten into. Do they really believe you can slap a fun sticker/decal on the hood, give it a new color, and think this will sell more Jeeps? “I want to buy that new Wrangler because the sticker of a Yeti on the instrument cluster.” Said no one EVER!

    Another major fail by Jeep has been redundancy in their model line-up. After the retirement of the Cherokee in 2001 and introduction of the Liberty replacement they added two more almost identical platforms. The Compass and Patriot, both bastardized versions of the already existing Liberty. Who green lighted this poor decision? Only thing I can figure is that after Pontiac closed up shop, Jeep must have hired the asshat who thought the Aztec was going to be the God of all SUVs. I digress, this redundancy in category lineup offers very little return on investment. Thankfully an announcement of the Compass’s demise came in 2012 but the damage it has done to the Jeep brand will likely require the birth of a vehicle that can rival Wrangler flagship status. “Well, they re-invented the Grand Cherokee”, you say. In reply to that I say, they are competing in an already oversaturated market.

    My opinion is a reintroduction of the Comanche and base it heavily off of the existing Unlimited JK platform to save in upstart manufacturing costs. Ford recently put an end to their mid-size Ranger, and Toyota has bloated the Tacoma into practically a full size truck. Leaving only a few competitors in the 4-door midsize truck category. Couple Jeep brand capability with a torquey fuel efficient diesel drivetrain, in a configuration that has little competition, and I could see Jeep creating a legend. I’m no marketing, economics, or corporate genius but, based on what the Jeep and off-road community is begging for, a 4-door turbo diesel pickup would be a home run for Jeep.

    All ranting aside they must be doing something right. Close to 3 million Jeep Facebook followers speaks volumes and Chrysler’s full government loan plus interest repayment back in 2011 puts them out of the red and into the black. The Fiat merger was a symbiotic deal. It gave Fiat a good opportunity to get on showroom floors again in the United States for the first time since 1984. It also opened international doors for Chrysler to be seen in places its tires have never touched.

    Nevertheless, good article for 2009 but in 2012 very few of your points are relevant or factual anymore. Just to be safe, please keep Chrysler Group LLC. black and go buy yourself a shiny new 2013 Wrangler, you’ll be happy that you did.

    -Red Beard
    (don’t bother with the Moab edition sticker, just get the Rubicon) ;)

  4. Red Beard,

    Your post can basically be summed up as, “Jeep did awesome…” which is exactly why it’s worth saving. You’re point about various models being an abomination (compass, commander, etc) is spot on. Those were points in history I wish I could forget.

    There certainly is a few glimmers of hope in the Jeep brand with some concepts and features. The electronic sway bar disconnect is baller status. I wish I had that on the Tacoma.

    PS: Check the story on how Chrysler paid back that loan. Worth the read, trust me. Linked below.

    PPS: I’ve always wanted a Rubicon and still do. One day when I have a 6 car garage….

    • Red Beard says:


      I read the linked article but again struggled to find factual data to back the opinions and representations made by the author, quoting another author, whose original post “could not be found”.

      I found the following article outlining Chrysler’s viability determination back in 2009, prior to the Fiat partnership. (from the horses mouth)

      My interpretation is that of Chrysler stating, “Hmm, bad product lines coupled with bad quality equals a dismal outlook.” “An outside partnership offering competitive product lines and a stronger focus on our few successful lines should make us competitive once again.” Both of which have into fruition come 2012.

      Another fun article laying out the auto industry relating to Chrysler and the importance of keeping our American based car companies alive so they can continue employing working Americans.(also posted with non-biased sources)

  5. Landon says:

    I understand your point regarding the article but why does Jeep “deserve to be saved” as you suggest by Toyota. When it is in fact it has already saved itself. I read the same article Red Beard did and like he suggest I am not sure where you get your sources, and/or/facts. Speculation is one thing hard numbers and facts are another. Your point with your friend the car sales man is inaccurate regarding price. According to a recent USA Today article prices are at an all time high and it’s very hard to get the dealer to negotiate these days to even MSRP. Also numbers have been steady the entire year. According to sales stats directly from Chrysler 23,000 Jeep Cherokees alone have been sold year to date. Your “friend” might be working at the wrong dealership, or needs to get his hand into the honey pot before he is left with just the jar. It’s not like 2008-2009 I think we are talking about a different time frame. People are picking up new vehicles like hot cakes. Toyota aka “the hands of god” need to keep doing what they do best. Selling Camary/Prius and the occasional SUV. I will say Toyota makes an ok truck but the FJ in my opinion looks like it was designed in the State Fair’s Fun house.It’s ugly and impractical. Jeep has a name and reputation in the states and Toyota would trounce it if they got their sticky little paws on it. Fiat is doing a fine job and as a Jeep Rubicon owner I am excited to see where they will take the brand.

    • Landon,

      I’m assuming you’re talking about the USA article that was released about two hours ago listing the top 10 best selling cars this year and how the average transaction rate for a vehicle increased about $75 since last month. However, your reliable source USA Today contradicts your previous statement that the Cherokee sold 23,000 units this year. If it had, then it would have been #10 on the list….but it’s not. So depending on where you get your numbers from the “hard facts” seem to vary quite a bit. Nevertheless, I’m not surprised that the figure Chrysler stated is the one that is higher. And let’s be clear, I think Jeep is fine; it’s Chrysler that I’m worried about.

      Also, if you think that the Tacomacamryprius is an “ok” truck you clearly haven’t driven one. If by “ok” you mean “market leader” then sure. Maybe we should hit up Bridgeport Offroad Park soon and you can bring one of your many Land Rovers if you can get them started…

      I’m very curious where you think Fiat is going to take Jeep as a brand. I don’t think they build a single offroad vehicle to my knowledge.

      (article referenced above)

  6. And Angel does very well selling cars. The example I used was exactly that…an example

  7. Landon says:

    Actually, I am not referring to today’s article. As many people write for the paper I would assume many articles are published. It was earlier in the week and did not refer to the “top 10 cars” or $75 dollar price increase. It discussed what I mentioned earlier. The 23,000 year to date was from It mentioned many other cars as well. I am only questioning the article because there is not a factual basis our source that are current in today’s market that would back up your points. A couple of years ago you would be right. But today your just not. Your “friend”, though point taken, is irrelevant. The “hard facts” are just that facts. You can go to Chrysler or a myriad of other sources to back up the numbers. If we want to use friend examples three of mine just bought a Jeep. When your Toyota gets stuck maybe I will use some ether and fire up one of the beasts from the garage and come pull you out of the mud. I looked at Tacoma before I got my F-250 and did test drive them, but for a number of reasons it did not work for what I needed to do at the time. The reason Ford and many other auto makers do not offer light trucks any more in the states is because of lack of sales and close competition with the F-150 or 1500 medium truck series. Although as of late they have picked up with the remaining 3 light truck models left in the u.s. I would rather spend the same amount of money and buy an F-150 with eco-boost and get 300+ hp and fuel consumption to boot. America agrees with me as the F-150 is the top selling truck. That is why small trucks from other manufacturers have failed. Why not get more for the same. Luckily Tacoma has found a niche market. Out of all of their vehicles I like Tacoma/4runner the best. I am not trying to knock them but Tacoma just doesn’t work for me. As a company (FIAT)is in the business of making money regardless of the brand. They actually have manufactured off road vehicles in the past the Fiat Campagnola comes to mind and had a a production run for over 20 year. All I am saying is if a company can run a successful business and has a track record of doing so obviously something is going right because the proof is in the pudding with those sales. Jeep is not in danger and Toyota need to put away their check book. As they are fine by themselves.

  8. Landon,

    I’m not going to argue with you about the state of Chrysler as it exists without Jeep. I’m well aware of Jeep’s current standing. As I stated before, Jeep is doing fantastic but it’s Chrysler that I’m worried about. Not sure if you skimmed the article and didn’t actually read it but it’s written from the perspective that Jeep is doing well and shouldn’t be drug down by the parent company. Chrysler is not a strong brand and any short term “profits” they’ve had as the result of pumping an extra $3.5billion into them I’m going to take with a grain of salt till the dust settles and they show a constant trend of revival funded ONLY by their own sales.

    The F150 has indeed been the best selling truck for years and last year they sold 358,762 of them. The Tacoma (which falls into the segment you labeled “low sales volume”) sold 110,705 units. I’d say that’s a fairly high volume wouldn’t you? It’s not as large a segment as the half ton market but to say light trucks aren’t profitable is just an outright fallacy. Nissan and Toyota are making a killing in that market. And don’t believe the bullcrap you read about why small trucks from other manufacturers failed in that segment. They failed because they built an inferior, shitty product that no one wanted. Ford actually still builds the Ranger you just don’t have the opportunity to buy one here.

    The light truck market is for people smart enough to realize they DON’T need an F250 because they don’t perform any sort of manual labor and don’t tow a house on a regular basis. But alas, this article isn’t about that…..Robert already wrote that one in September (linked below).

  9. Landon says:

    I am well aware of Robert’s article as I read it the day he posted it. You are right this is not about trucks. Although to point out an inaccuracy on your part the Ranger is not sold in the U.S because the new model is to similar in size and performance to the current F-150 and Ford did not want their own models to compete. A simple google search will tell you that. Your right not every one needs an F-250 or F-150 for that matter as we mostly live in the urban jungle and not the country. But also most people who own trucks don’t need them anyway. More doctors and lawyers drive them to work than farmers (Nobody needs a Lamborghini Aventador but i sure as hell want to be that idiot that has one). I also challenge you to read the market research that Ford and other automakers performed on the light truck segment and let me know what they conclude. You keep talking about Chrysler and your worry. Well Chrysler sales alone according to the WallStreet Journal are up 12% this year and after FIAT took over in 2009 their goal is for them to be competitive with Cadillac and other luxury brands. That’s right I said luxury brands. Actually with very little research you can find out that Cadillac sales are down and Chrysler sales are up. The reason being is because Chrysler has taken market share and it is apparent in their year to date sales figures. Any time a company restructures it takes time especially with new management and visions. Unfortunately they are not magicians and cant’t wave magic wands and magically post astronomical numbers to wow their share holders. Now Chrysler LLC sales with all brands are excellent this year. So like I pointed out earlier with statistics and examples from various sources they are doing just fine. Chrysler LCC with brands like FIAT, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, RAM, and their performance divisions will be just fine. Chrysler is their luxury brand anchored by a strong base of products that are all selling exceptionally well. Current data supports this and nothing currently has been able to prove it other wise. Now what we really need to do is sit back and watch and enjoy the ride.

  10. Landon,

    The traditional USA ranger and the Overseas ranger aren’t sold here for completely different reasons as they are completely different vehicles. I think this chart speaks volumes about why the US ranger is no longer produced. (hint: because they were getting their butts kicked)

    Please re-read your WSJ article. The individual Chrysler nameplate is NOT up 12%; it’s only up 5.5%. The size of the entire USA car market rose 12.8% which means there was more pie to go around. Toyota’s sales spike undoubtedly was due to the recovery out of the three recent mishaps it’s fallen victim to (the tsunami, the Earthquake at their plants, and the USA recalls witch hunt).

    And I agree….only time will tell so and you know I’ll be watching it play out.

  11. Landon says:

    The above mentioned link will tell you everything you need to know about the Ford Ranger and light truck segment.

  12. Landon says:

    Please read some of these articles it will help you understand what I am talking about and get you caught up to the times. What that chart speaks volumes for is 2007-2008 when Ford debated if it was going to cancel the Ranger. It clearly shows sales where cut by more then half and thus caused them to have to re-evaluate the products feasibility. Here is another article detailing my point. Let me challenge you to read these articles instead of an incidental charts that show exactly why Ford stopped selling the Ranger state side. If the ranger worked it would be here. It does not so it is not plain and simple. The new ranger is 90% of the size of the current F-150 and thus to competitive hence it is not sold here.

    My only point was that Chrysler and their brand in their current state they are fine. Sales figures and empirical data not opinion proves things are on the up swing. 5.2% on the brand and 12% overall is not bad. Every auto maker in the U.S struggled and some didn’t make it (Pontiac and Saab come to mind) and they did in fact fail. The brands that are meant to be here are here. Like myself and Red Beard suggested this article would have been great a couple of years ago.

    But I did enjoy it because it brought about discussion. In they end we will probably never agree which is fine. We both agree that time will tell and that all we can do is wait. We can also both agree to disagree. LOL!! Maybe one day they will fail? But at any time any automaker could fail. With new management and current market data it looks like it is less likely and they will be here for a long time.

  13. As an intresting and small aside, and something I’ll be addressing in another article soon –

    The Land Rover Defender 90 and Defender 110, whilst being the end all be all of offroading perfection, sold like shit in the US. It was dealership suicide for a brand that was trying to establish itself as a premier luxury SUV brand in the US to also carry these udner optioned, under powered, under equiped trucks that were loud and unrefined. Dealers couldn’t give them away. But now in the used market, they are some of the most desired off road vehicles one can buy. As someone whose opinion on such vehicles I respect greatly said:

    The Jeep was built for places where roads are hardly more than a walking trail for the local culture. The Defender was built for where the locals don’t have a word for “road”.

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