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Jeep Renegade Survives Costco Challenge

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2017 Jeep Renegade Deserthawk

Having a new Jeep Renegade Trailhawk over the long July 4th weekend, I took it to Costco for the quarterly bird seed, cat food replenishment.  At first I was wondering if the Renegade was up to the task.  Does a small crossover SUV have the capacity to take the load?

There were fourteen bags of bird seed and two of cat food.  Plus the package of 30 rolls of toilet paper.  Would they fit?  Plus, would they fit with the other stuff we bought?  Removing the tonneau cover over the cargo area and folding the rear seats were required to fit in the load.  There was room to spare.  Probably could have doubled the number of bird seed and cat food bags.

Renegade Survives Costco Run

Renegade Easily Takes Load from Costco

Small Crossover SUVs are Very Capable  Even the smallest of the new generation crossover SUVs are extremely capable as this brief test shows.  The booming sales of small and mid-size crossover SUVs is the reason sales of traditional passenger cars are down.  Responding to what vehicle buyers have been telling us they want since the late 1980s, the new crossovers fit the bill.  They are easy to get into and out of.  You don’t have to drop down into one like in a car.  The seating position is chair like.  Your legs are not extended forward.  More glass and the higher seating position provide optimum visibility.  The fold down rear seat combined with an open rear cargo area maximize load carrying capability.

Trailhawk “Deserthawk”  This Jeep Renegade had the Deserthawk 4×4 package ($1,395) to yield the ultimate off-road Renegade.  It is another answer from Jeep on their old saying “a Jeep is for the occasional use prerogative”.  On-road or off-road, the Deserthawk can do it all.  Taking this particular Renegade off-road even with the full load, would have been no problem.  The challenge would be to keep the cargo in place, or to fill it even more deeply so nothing could move around.

Pricing for Everybody  Not only can the Jeep Renegade carry an impressive amount of cargo and be capable off-road, the vehicle can be loaded with amenities.  The base price for the front wheel drive Sport model is $17,995.  The Trailhawk is $26,895.  Adding practically all the optional features and selecting the Deserthawk package you can pay $33,265.  At that level you get a blind spot monitoring system, UConnect navigation system, automatic temperature control, Selec-Terrain 4×4 system, hill descent control, hill start assist, and more.  One thing oddly missing is a remote liftgate release. There is a nice blank spot on the key fob for that feature, but it is not there.  Go figure.  In July 2017, Jeep is offering a lease discount of $4,250.

Powertrain a Bit Balky  The 180-horsepower 2.4L 4-cylinder Multi-Air engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.  This combination is fine most of the time around town, but when you need to quickly accelerate there is an unwelcome hesitation.  Slam the accelerator to the floor, wait, wait, then the engine decides you really do want full power and it gives it to you.  Too much hesitation for my book. Maybe an owner would learn to compensate after driving the Renegade for a week or so.


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2 Million Jeeps – Global Sales Goal

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Jeep sold about 1.4 million SUVs in 2016 and has 2 million Jeeps in its sights.  It is going to take until 2020 or so to sell 2 million Jeeps per year.

At an event showcasing the all new 2017 Jeep Compass, Mike Manley, Head of Jeep, detailed the evolution of Jeep production that could achieve global sales objectives of 2 million Jeeps by 2020.  The Compass is a crossover SUV positioned above the B-Segment Renegade and below the D-Segment Cherokee. Actually, the Cherokee is more of a C/D Segment vehicle. Cherokee is not really big enough to be a full D-Segment vehicle.  At the top of the lineup is the Grand Cherokee which is the heart of Jeep DNA for now.

Jeep’s Capacity Story

There is a dance of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US (FCA) plants that is going to realize substantially more Jeep production.  The dance goes like this…

  • FCA kills Dodge Dart, Jeep Patriot and the old Jeep Compass produced at their huge 407,000 unit capacity plant in Belvidere, Illinois.  Cherokee moves from Toledo, Ohio to Belvidere in 2017.  Estimate a maximum production of Cherokee at 250,000 units.  This means there is room for another vehicle “not yet announced” at Belvidere, says Manley.
  • Toledo adds all new Wrangler off-road SUV during 2017.  Wrangler is selling so well it needs more capacity, but not as much as relieved by moving Cherokee to Belvidere.  Jeep adds a Wrangler-based pickup to Toledo to fill capacity.  This also satisfies demand from dealers and customers for a Jeep pickup.
  • The all-new 2017 Jeep Compass is launched with assembly plants in four countries:  Mexico, India, Brazil and China.  The Mexican plant will supply North America and left hand drive Europe.  The Indian plant will satisfy demand from right hand drive countries including the U.K, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.  Jeep has high expectations for the new Compass as the assembly plant count confirms.
  • Jeep is adding a Jeep Wagoneer to the lineup.  Manley mentions that this could be a “line of Wagoneers” implying that there could be a Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer in Jeep’s future.  Wagoneer will be a body-on-frame SUV.  It will be based on the next-generation Ram pickup but with independent rear suspension.  Manley agrees that “Ford went the right way when they added independent rear suspension to their Expedition to get a great 3rd row seat”.  The speculation is that Wagoneer will be added to FCA’s Sterling Heights assembly plant.  Sterling Heights is being shifted to Ram pickup production after the Chrysler 200 sedan was killed.  The 200 was the only vehicle in Sterling Heights and never achieved anything like FCA’s hoped for volumes.
  • That leaves the “mystery vehicle” to take up the additional capacity at Belvidere.

Given all this attention to plants and plant capacity, 2 million Jeeps looks plausible by the next decade.

New Compass Key to selling 2 million Jeeps

Source: George Peterson, AutoPacific

2017 Jeep Compass in Brief

Based on driving and living with the all-new 2017 Jeep Compass for a short time, the Compass will attract robust sales.  Compass styling is very much traditional Jeep with the seven vertical slot grille, trapezoidal wheel arches and a strong overall style.  Compass has a unique floating roof character that has been adopted from everybody from the Jaguar XJ, Lexus RX SUV, Nissan Murano to the GMC Acadia SUV.  The Compass is one of the only vehicles in white where this really looks cool.

The Compass interior is excellent in the mid-range Latitude model, the top-of-the-line Limited and the aggressive Trailhawk model.  Front seat comfort is outstanding for a vehicle in this class.  The seats are firm without being too stiff.  Visibility is excellent from the driver’s seat.  Everything is easy to reach and see.  Ergonomically, Jeep designers and engineers have done an excellent job.

Compass is powered by the 2.4L Tigershark 4-cylinder engine with 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque.  In North America there are three transmissions.  4×2 models get a 6-speed automatic.  4×4 models get a 9-speed automatic.  Both 4×2 and 4×4 models are available with manual transmissions.  Manual transmission availability is getting rarer and rarer these days.  Likely the wide global distribution of the Compass makes the 6-speed manual readily available.

Performance on-road is adequate.  A 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder with 230-250 horsepower would always be welcome in a vehicle like the Compass.  Off-road, navigating a very technical course, the Compass is very capable.  Clearly, retaining Jeep DNA for off-road fun was an important feature in the development of the Compass.


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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the highest scoring Mid-Size SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The Grand Cherokee product development team has honed their knowledge of what Grand Cherokee buyers want over the years.  The Grand Cherokee has won AutoPacific’s IVA and also the AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award for years in a row.  This is a remarkable feat.  The Jeep Grand Cherokee beat out some impressive group of mid-size SUV’s. Following the Grand Cherokee is the Nissan Xterra, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and the Jeep Wrangler.  “Is this getting old, or what?” says AutoPacific President George Peterson.  The Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to sweep its category and remains the Ideal Mid-Size SUV.”

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee owners were very pleased with their vehicles. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle Award questionnaire, the Grand Cherokee led or tied in nine categories.

The top five highest ratings by Jeep Grand Cherokee owners are: same exterior size, same tires, same wheels, same passenger room, and the same interior lighting as now.

Although the Grand Cherokee is at the top there are several things owners would change. Owners would like more advanced technology, more power and acceleration, easier to get in and out of, and more cargo space.

AutoPacificIVA Feature copy


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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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In the “This is Getting Boring Category”, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the highest scoring Mid-Size SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. This is the fourth year in a row Grand Cherokee has won the award.  The Grand Cherokee edges out some very impressive vehicles such as the Toyota 4Runner, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler, and the Nissan Xterra.

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee wins and ties in thirty-three of fifty categories. The Grand Cherokee is within one tenth of a satisfaction rating point in ten other attributes. Jeep’s Grand Cherokee led in just over eighty five percent of the satisfaction categories.

The top ten highest ratings by Grand Cherokee owners are: exterior and interior styling, handling and braking, exterior color and size, the feel of the fabrics and materials, feeling safe while driving, the vehicles ride, and that it is fun to drive.

AutoPacific VSA Logo Feature


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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Upgraded… Great Gets Greater

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Award Winner Gets Major Changes After Only Three Years The 2012 Grand Cherokee has been arguably the best affordable “real” SUV on the market since the latest generation was launched for the 2011 model year.  The Grand Cherokee was so good that its owners rated it higher enough against its competition to win AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award in 2011 and 2012 AND AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award in 2011 and 2012!  This sweep in these tough-to-win owner awards is testament to the excellence of the Grand Cherokee.

Developed in Time of Hardship The 2011 Grand Cherokee was developed during the dark days of the reign of Cerberus Capital Management.   Their ownership of Chrysler steered the firm to the bankruptcy courts and a bailout by the U.S. and Canadian government, UAW and CAW.  Ultimately, Fiat took control of Chrysler and Jeep and the firm is now prospering.  It is surprising that under the eyes of Cerberus, the 2011 Grand Cherokee turned out to be such a good vehicle.

Best Gets Better Like other Chrysler products (Chrysler 300, Chrysler 200, Dodge Charger, Ram 1500), Jeep’s product team has reinvigorated the vehicle but mostly under the skin.  The front fascia is new.  Taillamps are new.  A couple of wheel designs are new.  And the interiors are new and much more upscale.  Grand Cherokee gets Chrysler’s latest iteration of its excellent and easy to use UConnect system.  Gone is the 5-speed automatic transmission replaced by a silky smooth 8-speed unit.  A 240HP 3.0L V6 diesel is available for the first time.  So, the Grand Cherokee is a substantially upgraded version of the 2011 vehicle.  And it works!


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Jeep Grand Cherokee – Owners Rate it Most Ideal Premium Mid-Size SUV

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Grand Cherokee Edges Nissan Xterra for IVA Win: The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes closest to the ideal of any Premium Mid-Size SUV.  The Grand Cherokee edges out the second place Nissan Xterra by 32 rating points to win in its class.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Grand Cherokee owners rate its ride and handling ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Grand Cherokee owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  exterior size, interior lighting, passenger roominess, exterior styling, driver’s seat comfort, tires and safety features.

A Few Shortfalls – Some Could Have Been Offset by Selecting Available Options and Powertrains: About 32% of Grand Cherokee owners want better driver’s seat visibility.  About 30% want better infotainment technology.  These owners likely did not opt for the extra cost uConnect entertainment and information system.  About 28% of Grand Cherokee owners want better power and acceleration, but only 7% would trade off power and acceleration for better fuel economy. They must not have opted for the HEMI V8.  About 28% want their Grand Cherokee to be easier to get into and out of. About 25% want more distinctive wheels than now.  About 24% want more interior storage compartments.  About 23% of Grand Cherokee want more cargo space than now.  About 15% want a softer driver’s seat than now.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/ideal-suvs-pickups-rated-by-owners-in-2012-iva-awards-112117/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Most Satisfying Premium Mid-Size SUV

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Best in Class 2012 Premium Mid-Size SUV:  Jeep Grand Cherokee

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

Owners of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee give the Premium Mid-Size SUV top ratings in nineteen of forty-eight characteristics measured in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  The Grand Cherokee has been the Most Satisfying Premium Mid-Size SUV since it was all new for the 2011 Model Year.  It has won two years in a row.  The Grand Cherokee gets top marks for Rear Seat Comfort, Exterior Color, Interior Styling, Interior Materials, Interior Storage, Braking, Fuel Economy, Ride, Quietness, Interior Lighting, Cupholders, Tire Brand/Size/Appearance, Wheel Size and Style, Infotainment Technology, Price, Recyclability, Advanced Powertrain Technology, Collision Avoidance Technology, and Range. Ratings for characteristics in the Mid-Size Premium SUV Class are a bit lower than for some other categories of vehicles (many of these are based on truck chassis), so considering that a perfect score for an attribute is 5.0 rating points, a rating of 4.2 or higher can be considered more than competitive.  Grand Cherokee owners rate the truck at 4.2 or higher twenty-four of the forty-eight characteristics including: Overall Satisfaction, Exterior Size, Seating Capacity, Driver’s Seat Comfort, Ease of Loading Cargo, Image, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Exterior Styling, Interior Styling, Interior Materials, Braking, Handling, Fun to Drive, Reliable/Dependable, Ride, Quietness, Quality Feeling Controls, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Rating, Overall Quality, and Durability.  Grand Cherokee owners rate the vehicle below 4.0 satisfaction rating points in eight categories:  Ease of Getting In and Out, Flexible Seating, Fuel Economy (even though it is the highest best in the class), Range (best in class), Environmental Friendliness (tied for best in class), Price (best in class), Recyclability (best in class), and Collision Avoidance Technology (best in class). Grand Cherokee owners give the vehicle strong overall ratings that place it at the forefront of its competition.


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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee: One More Gear Tames the HEMI

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It was about a year ago when I first got my hands on the new-for-2011 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee.  Looking bigger, better and more refined than ever, the Grand Cherokee had a few nit picks that could have made it just the teensiest bit better.  For 2012, Jeep decided to make a few of these changes.  Let’s check ’em out.


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2012 Jeep Wrangler: New Heart, And Capable as Ever.

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The Jeep Wrangler is the spiritual heart and soul of the Jeep lineup.  It is a true icon, recognized far beyond automotive circles.  Its mere existence lends credibility to less off-road capable brandmates ilke Patriot and Compass.  After all, it can be argued that Wrangler is THE original off-road SUV.  With its heritage hearkening back to the Second World War, performing its duties heroically on battlefields in both the Pacific and European theaters, the Wrangler has off-road credibility arguably matched by no one.


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Jeep Grand Cherokee Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award for Mid-Size SUVs

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The all new Grand Cherokee is the top ranked Mid-Size SUV in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research.  As the class winner, its owners identify few things they would want changed, but there are a few.  About 30% would like better visibility and more infotainment technology.  About 25% want the Grand Cherokee to be easier to get into and out of.  About 25% want it to have more power and more cargo room as well.  Grand Cherokee owners most like its ride, seat comfort, exterior size and the styling of the new vehicle.  Grand Cherokee handily outpoints the second place Nissan Xterra.


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