You can hardly talk about a sport utility without mentioning the name Jeep. Over the past several years as I’ve reviewed the likes of the Olds Bravada, Nissan Pathfinder, Chevy Blazer, Infiniti QX4, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, Lexus LX450, Honda Passport, Dodge Durango, Mercedes Benz ML320, GMC Yukon Denali, Isuzu Rodeo etc., I have referred to Jeep. And why not, Jeep is the original and still is the Jeep of Sport Utility Vehicles. I have been endeared to the Jeep for offroading since before all other manufacturers got hip to this wild and crazy passenger vehicle capability.
The only one I really can’t warm up to is the Wrangler because it insults my intelligence. Simply put – I can’t see the value for the dough. Take the carpet and comfortable seats out, paint it gray and we have a post WWII Jeep I drove in the Navy. Paint it Army Green and put a machine gun mount on the back, and it’s the familiar GI Jeep General George S. Patton rode in through Europe. It rides rough, burns gas like an Army tank, has no storage space and much less.
Sorry, Chrysler I had to say that and get it off my chest. However, the rest of the Jeep line and the company generally is great. Management is forward thinking and caters to its customers in a family sort of way. They organize Jeep Jamborees, that are off road outings for a few days in the country with a bunch of other Jeep owners that is organized by Chrysler. There are about 30 venues in the US and are “must do’s” for Jeep owners. I did the Mohawk Trail Jamboree in Massachusettes a few years back and still think of that outing from time to time with fondness. You meet some very nice people and you have a lot in common. Jeep says that 65% of all Jeep owners have never taken their Jeep off roading. Jamboree’s are ranked by degree of difficulty and I would never suggest you take on a “Ten” at first. Inexperienced owners could bring their Jeep back in a body bag.
Now Jeep has taken the initiative again and began organizing a program to teach owners “off-highway” driving basics. They call it “Jeep 101” and you drive company owned new Jeeps around a course designed to simulated difficult trail conditions in the widerness. Literally it is a cut down version of the Jeep Jamboree. They invite Jeep owners or prospective owners to experience a course of sand traps, log crossings, rock crawling, hill climbing, water hazards etc. The program begins in April and runs through November in cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa. It’s an interesting way to spend a half day and if you intend to buy a SUV you should consider this opportunity. I went on the one in Gorman, about an hour north of LA.
I suspect this is what separates the men from the boys in the SUV market. Jeep is the “Real Thing” and they put their product where their marketing mouth is. This is truly a different car company. The third event they sponsor is called Camp Jeep which is a three day owner event to educate, entertain and place owners in a family vacation environment. There are activities like fly-fishing, four-wheel drive trails, mountain biking, white-water rafting, all-terrain mountain boarding, archery and out door concerts. Trust me, Chrysler knows how to do an event.
For more information on Jeep Jamborees, Camp Jeep or Jeep 101 you can call 1-800-925-Jeep or visit the Jeep website at www.jeep.com.
Chevrolet Blazer $21,713 – $25,226, GMC Jimmy $21,836 – $25,905, Honda Passport $22,700 – $28,950, Jeep Cherokee $15,665 – $24,605, Mitsubishi Montero Sport $18,030 – $32,250, Nissan Pathfinder $23,999 – $32,849, Subaru Forester $18,695 – $22,195, Toyota 4Runner $20,658 – $34,718.
The Jeep of SUV’s, fun and educational events.
Prior quality issues (but they try harder and address the problems).
4.0 liter inline 6-cylinder engine, 4-speed automatic trans with 4 wheel drive, dual air bags, power front disc and rear drum brakes, power steering, AM/FM with cassette, power folder mirrors and roof rack.
15 City/ 20 Highway MPG.
MSRP is $22,115. The model I tested included air conditioning, power leather seats, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, cruise control, special wheels, special suspension like skid plates heavy duty engine and oil coolers ABS brakes, fog lamps, CD etc that brought the total to $27,405.