I am happy to say that it looks like Jeep has finally turned the corner. The 2011 Grand Cherokee improves on its predecessor’s already impressive off-road ability. It will probably actually outdo the Mercedes M-class on which it is based when it comes to prowess in the rough.
What a contrast from a couple of years back when Jeep introduced the front wheel drive Compass/Patriot twins. Chrysler thought it could increase market share by having 3 “top hat” programs (Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot) off 1 platform. Since the brands were not very strong, they ended up cannibalizing each other’s market share. On top of it, you could get the Jeep twins in front wheel drive only. That is sacrilege for a company that prides on its vehicles ability to cross the Rubicon trail.
Since World War II, the Jeep has been synonymous with tough go-anywhere ability. In fact, I think that the Jeep brand , along with the Corvette and Harley-Davidson, is one of the strongest American brands around. The fact that the Jeep twins did not do any long-lasting damage to the brand was probably due to the fact that during the implosion of the automotive industry in Detroit, most people did not consider cars from the Chrysler group and therefore were unaware that a fwd-only Jeep was available.
Chrysler should spare the brand further damage and sell only trail rated versions of the Patriot and drop the Compass all together.