So is this the beginning of the end for Jeep? A car-based Grand Cherokee? Is that what Jeep buyers want?
Or is Cerberus banking on the fact that each year there are less and less true die-hard Jeep afficienados out there, and that sooner or later that number will be so minisquel it won't matter?
"The segment the Grand Cherokee competes in has seen some of the most decline (because of the) high gas prices," said Global Insight analyst Rebecca Lindland. "This new product will allow the consumer to keep all attributes of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. They won't be able to navigate the Rubicon trail but they will get to the grocery store on less fuel."
Oh Lord, did I really read that? A real Jeep that can't do the Rubicon?
You know, it's all fine and dandy that all the other SUV pretenders are being designed to handle nothing tougher than shopping center parking lots, but must Jeep follow that path too? Unlike most SUVs out there Jeep has real off-road credibility, but if they go that route, you can kiss their stellar 60-plus-year reputation of being America's first and true off-roader goodby.
For the record, this is not about being unibody, as the Cherokee and and Grand Cherokee have always been unibody. And it's not about using IFS and IRS, as there are several really good off-road vehicles using IFS and IRS. No, this is about changing the mission of Jeep Grand Cherokee. No longer will it be a true dual-purpose on-off road vehicle, but instead it will be skewed heavily towards on-road abilities at the expense of its famous off-road heritage. So it looks like the Grand Cherokee will become just another CUV. Sad.
For the sake of the Grand Cherokee let's hope I'm dead wrong with this blog entry.