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Monday, January 09, 2006


Detroit Auto Show Day 2


We could argue, as I have, that some brands have lost their way. Jeep is not one of those. Although Hummer may have stolen some of the "General Purpose Government Vehicle" halo from Jeep, Chrysler execs and its designers have done their best to be faithful to the Jeep brand essence.

Jeep has done a lot with very little product the last few years. No, I don't mean bad product. I mean few products. Where some brands crawl into every segment available, Jeep has focused - until now. With the recent launch of the Commander Jeep finally did what we'd been hoping for...offer a full sized utility.

Now, the line up grows further with the addition of the 2007 Jeep Compass. To be sure, the Compass is a bit of a departure for the Jeep brand. I'm certain that the Compass was cause for some consternation in Auburn Hills. Why? Not because of styling - The Compass is more of a - gasp - car (anyone hear CUV?). It is designed more for the urban customer. It is a risky move...I am not a big fan of "departure" vehicles because they tend to cause a loss of focus on the core essence that makes the Brand great. Brand histories are replete with brand tangents into "extensions" that initially succeed but later fail, often spectacularly. The good news is that the Jeep Compass appears to retain some core Jeep strengths including AWD capability and an updated CVT.

Almost as if to counter balance the new Compass, Jeep also introduced the new 2007 Jeep Wrangler...the real throwback, trail-rated Jeep - by driving it through a plate glass window at the Show.

Improvements for 2007 include more interior space, a new 4-wheel ABS system and more grunt with the new 205 horsepower 3.8 liter V6. Jeep also improved frame stiffness by 100% and re-worked the suspension to improve handling on and off-road.

P.S. Don't try this at home.

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