Last time we got a French-American Jeep, we got the Cherokee. The Renault-AMC era idiosyncrasies are a big part of why the vehicles are still so beloved. A beloved American straight six and serious off-roading chops in a small package.
Guess what. Jeep just got a new French-American corporate owner and is due for some new models. Except this time there is some Italian blood in the company too.
What happened when Jeep teamed up with the Italians to make a small 4x4? The Renegade.
I like the Renegade, but it was no Cherokee. If it were better in the rough stuff, I think the cutesy pocket off-roader would be amazing. I’m not saying it sucks, but it just can’t quite live up to the reputation of the old Cherokee. And the current Cherokee itself is getting a little bit old and was never quite as rugged as you would expect.
Make what you will of Stellantis, it has a lot going for it and a lot of neglected brands to kill off or revitalize. Jeep has the new JL Wrangler and Gladiator, but I think they need more attention still. Even with the new Wagoner coming. They’re the company’s most valuable brand and the Grand Cherokee and Cherokee are showing their age and the poor Renegade needs an update too.
I’m not saying next year, but maybe 5 years down the line I’d love to see the Renegade get reborn as a true Cherokee successor, keeping the fun adventure aesthetic in a small package but gaining more off road kit and a more inspiring power train.
Additionally, I think the Cherokee should become a little more purposeful to steal some 4Runner sales. It doesn’t have to be as good offroad, but people are really buying it for the image after all. You can’t deny the 4Runner really looks every bit as rugged as it is. I think the Cherokee should ditch the urban chic look and return to its boxy roots.
What is your take on all this? Do you think the French-American-Italian partnership is going to result in some delightfully quirky and surprisingly capable midsized and compact Jeep crossovers or will they go soft on us again?