Most cars around the world have exhibited expanding waistlines like most of my countrymen. A 2011 Civic is larger than an Accord from the nineties and the same goes for virtually every long running car model line. The Jeep Wrangler has exhibited this tendency as well but that increase in size was minimal from the CJ to the TJ. With the 2008 JK, Jeep took a quantum leap in size.
|Comparing a TJ (pre 2008) to a JK (2008 – current)|
Since the interior volumes are virtually identical and so is the off-road ability, I fail to see the impetus behind such a move. Plus the added weight could come back to bite Jeep sales should the gas prices go up any further. The same observations apply to the Toyota FJ Cruiser as well.
This brings me to the realization that a niche has opened up for a tough, hard as nails Jeep-let below the JK Wrangler or even smaller than the TJ Wrangler.
For those of you who are old enough, you might remember the earliest Suzuki Jeeps or even the Suzuki Jimny, which is still sold in Europe and Japan. These mini-Jeeps have body on frame construction, excellent off-road ability and four cylinder engines for decent fuel economy.
|The Suzuki SJ20|
Well, it might be too challenging to federalize a Jimny for US safety regulations. But a Grand Vitara could be a nice basis for a Jeep-let. It would even be smaller than the 1st generation Jeep Liberty.
Here’s a good idea for you Suzuki, in case you are interested.
|An off-road version of the Grand Vitara|