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RE: Prior Convictions: Wrangling with change

RE: Prior Convictions: Wrangling with change

Saturday 2nd December 2017

Prior Convictions: Wrangling with change

How Jeep has brought its icon into the 21st century, without forgetting where it came from...



Over the years, American carmakers have often fretted that they couldn't possibly move away from their established practices for fear of upsetting loyal, repeat customers.

I've heard it said about everything from leaf springs to live axles, and sometimes, no doubt, it's been true; although sports car customers seem to have embraced independent suspension without too much trouble. But it would be especially true, you imagine, when it comes to the Jeep Wrangler. That is a car, I suspect, that you mess with at your peril.


Now the latest generation Wrangler is here, and on display this week at the Los Angeles auto show. The Wrangler can, indirectly, trace its roots back to the second world war but it is still massive business: Jeep sells more than 200,000 of them a year. Like Sellotape and Hoover, Jeep has, for many people, become a generic term. See a big 4x4? "He was driving some Jeep thing."

And so, sensibly, Chrysler hasn't messed with it. Looks good, doesn't it? I think so, especially the 2dr version, though you can have a 4dr variant too.

As well as updating, rather successfully to my eyes, the Jeep's appearance for the 2019 model year, the hardware has been renewed, too. But it's still a body-on-chassis off-roader, with solid front and rear axles. There is a low-range transfer case, all models get skid plates front and rear and it has what Jeep is claiming are the best off-road credentials in the business. The approach angle is 44 degrees, the departure angle 37, and there's a 27.8 degree breakover. Ground clearance is 277mm and it can wade through 762mm of water.


Modernity? It's getting there. There's more aluminium in the skin than ever before, to reduce weight, while a 2.0-litre turbo inline four will arrive offering almost as much power, and more torque, than the 3.6 V6 it also gets. There'll be a 3.0 diesel too, with mild hybrid versions later. You can have a six-speed manual, or an eight-speed auto 'box. It all sounds, and looks, fit for the purpose it has carved for itself over the decades.

I'll always hold a soft spot for the Land Rover Defender. So much so that I've got one. But drive even a recent version and it becomes searingly obvious how much it was denied the kind of development programme that has kept the Mercedes-Benz G-Class and Jeep Wrangler in business. So I'm a bit worried about the replacement, given it missed all of that tweaking and care that could have meant its evolution was a natural progression. Now, surely, it can't be, and I think that's a shame. Because this latest Jeep, particularly, shows how you look after an icon.

 

 

Author
Discussion

The Spruce goose

Original Poster:

14,322 posts

120 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
The wranglers ive seen driven in the UK are always by women I guess they must make up a lot of sale.

missing the VR6

1,904 posts

114 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
I don't think Queer as Folk did much for it reputation in the UK.

Harry Flashman

12,065 posts

167 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
I had a heavily modified Land Rover Defender for some years, which spent 6 months in the mountain of France with me over a winter. It was modified to make it driveable and warm, and frankly it got me over some frozen passes when the gendarmes were turning other cars away. I loved that thing, and in many ways wish I had never sold it.

However, whilst I was out there, I had the opportunity to try a Wrangler of similar vintage. And it was simply a much better car, in every measurable way.

If I did that winter again, one of these would be my car of choice.

jhonn

1,019 posts

74 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
I had one (a TJ) and for off-road use it was very good, better than the Defender in a number of key areas.

Unfortunately for Jeep, the UK is not like the USA and the opportunity for people to actually use it off-road is limited, meaning it has the image of a 'lifestyle'/leisure vehicle, and it's not an image that a lot of people covet - not at the prices they're charging nowadays.

I think Jeep are doing a great job in its evolution, love the fact that you can still fold the windshield and take off the doors - it's nice to have a true icon around.

There'd be another in my dream garage - a 2 door Rubicon would do nicely.

RDMcG

11,957 posts

132 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
Have a current one in Arizona. They are amazing things off road. Blah on road. Still would not be without it. Will definitely get a short version for Canada but wait for second year prod. Jeep quality has never been great and will wait for year one shakeout. New one looks superb.
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TrivsTom

106 posts

92 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
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Must admit I’ve always had a soft spot for these!

unsprung

1,337 posts

49 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
article said:
American carmakers have often fretted that they couldn't possibly move away from their established practices for fear of upsetting loyal, repeat customers. I've heard it said about everything from leaf springs to live axles
I apologise, but that's inaccurate.

Cost was the justification for things like leaf springs and live axles. They're cheap -- whereas more sophisticated solutions add to cost-of-goods and maintenance. Affordability and reliability were of greater priority in a continent-sized country like the US with, at the time, a mostly rural population.

Further, US roads and US driving habits did not require a fastidious devotion to complex suspensions. There was some consumer preference in terms of the live axle for drag racing, but this, too, was subordinate to cost.

Change came with rising household income and with the subsequent diversification of consumer lifestyles.

In contrast, when viewed by Americans from afar, motoring in the UK and in continental Europe appear to be historically defined by the wealthy. And, for the masses, by privation.





The Spruce goose

Original Poster:

14,322 posts

120 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
missing the VR6 said:
I don't think Queer as Folk did much for it reputation in the UK.
Why do they have such a gay following I guess trying to sell it to other than women and gay men must be hard, as any way to try might just come over too macho.

unpc

1,782 posts

138 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
I used to have 110 commercial and did a fair amount of off roading and it was pretty good but it was appalling on road.

Then I rented of the last versions for some off roading in Moab, Utah and it was excellent and so much better on the road too. I'd have this new one in heartbeat.

richs2891

657 posts

178 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
I'm hoping with Jeep supposedly bringing more of this new JL model wrangler into the UK, the price is better than the JK model.
4 door Rubicon for me please

MerriDave

10 posts

33 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
I loved my 2015 JK Jeep apart from...

Terrible build quality
Leaks
Poor mpg
Gutless engine
2 inches or water in the foot well whenever it rained.
Rust
Candles for headlights
Comical traction control
Lousy dealership service, I mean just awful, after inspecting what I thought was the roof, I was informed it was actually a 'water deflection device' and wasn't supposed to provide a water free cabin.. I had to laugh.
Did I mention leaks....


Johnnytheboy

15,729 posts

111 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
At least it's a proper Jeep. I was in a Jeep dealer the other day and almost all of the stock were those Corsa-based things with the x-shaped back lights that make it look dead.

Hairymonster

155 posts

30 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
Nonce-mobile

Harry Flashman

12,065 posts

167 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
How's that manly diesel estate car of yours holding up? wink

RDMcG

11,957 posts

132 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
MerriDave said:
I loved my 2015 JK Jeep apart from...

Terrible build quality
Leaks
Poor mpg
Gutless engine
2 inches or water in the foot well whenever it rained.
Rust
Candles for headlights
Comical traction control
Lousy dealership service, I mean just awful, after inspecting what I thought was the roof, I was informed it was actually a 'water deflection device' and wasn't supposed to provide a water free cabin.. I had to laugh.
Did I mention leaks....
Pretty good summary. Mine lives in the desert so no water problems. Lights are truly abominable. 1949 Prefect.
I have had lotd of niggling service issues but no majot failures. They have a deservedly poor reputation for quality. Four windscreens in four years. The flat vertical screen is a magnet for stone chips.
You missed the vague steering;)

Still, they are like penguins -comical out of their element but brilliant doing what they are meant to do.
Off road.

oldtimer2

601 posts

58 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
I watched Mike Manley introduce the latest Wrangler (on YouTube). He certainly understands the market and his customers. The new version appears to deal with a lot of past gripes and improves the feature set. It remains, it seems to me, to be primarily aimed at the recreational market.

It will be interesting to see what Land Rover come up with next year and how that will be received. For some it is already a write off because it is assumed it will be a unibody not a body on frame. I think that what will matter will be how it performs on road as well as off road to broaden its appeal and whether it will offer the payload, cubic space and towing capacity of the Defender. I also think that hybrid versions will offer lots of power takeoff potential for ingenious users.

RDMcG

11,957 posts

132 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
In the US in particular Jeeps have a huge active community. I can find a offroad event every weekend and they are graduated by difficulty. Jeep also does a great job in myriad accessories and sponsors events. One of the few instances of a strong community around a cheaper vehicle


Zed Ed

825 posts

108 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
Some interesting developments from a euro relevance perspective in the new version; 4 pot turbo petrol power, big displacement afaik 6cyl diesel power , electric sliding roof option and afaik automatic selectrac 4wd.

I suspect the suspension setup and resulting general driving manners will continue to make it a niche choice however.

Head lights are comedy, I agree, although mine doesn’t leak. But if it does you just remove the drain plugs lol.

Must be taken with petrol 3.6 Pentastar which makes it a very pleasant drive.

Image in the uk more spoilt by Kahn and footballers which is a shame because this car ought to be heartlands Pistonheads.


1781cc

127 posts

19 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
Sod the Jeep, I can’t get past the poor woman in the lead photo on the right, not very flattering ha ha

RDMcG

11,957 posts

132 months

Saturday 2nd December 2017
quotequote all
1781cc said:
Sod the Jeep, I can’t get past the poor woman in the lead photo on the right, not very flattering ha ha
Well spotted smile