The Jeep brand is showing off new product today, a family of flagship new Wagoneer models and a hybrid-electric version of its stalwart Wrangler. On top of that, Jeep is expected to launch an all-new version of the popular Grand Cherokee model during calendar year 2021.
As the Jeep brand shares today’s headlines with the General Motors and Honda announcement, we asked three Cox Automotive analysts to weigh in.
Michelle Krebs, executive analyst, Cox Automotive
As Jeep heads into a critical year, the brand is in a relatively strong position. According to our Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch studies, consideration among in-market shoppers is in the neighborhood of 13%, similar to Hyundai, GMC and Subaru, and in a good position considering the brand’s relatively narrow product line.
The Jeep brand, in fact, performs poorly on many of the factors that matter most to car buyers – safety, comfort and affordability, for example. But the Jeep brand is a unique animal and perhaps can’t be accurately measured by the industry’s standard tools. Jeep does well in off-road performance – as one might expect – a factor less important to mainstream vehicle buyers but very important to Jeep buyers.
Coming products for the Jeep pipeline – particularly the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer – are being launched to push the brand into new segments, upmarket and more luxurious (read: expensive!). Moving upmarket is not as easy as it might seem, but FCA leadership has certainly demonstrated the capability: the transformation of the Ram brand in the past few years is a blueprint for success. From solidly mediocre four years ago, Ram is now a solid leader in Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch, top in many factors, including technology, exterior design, interior layout, driving comfort and driving performance.
The Jeep brand is arguably the crown jewel of Fiat Chrysler, the most valuable piece and the biggest opportunity. The new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer and the coming Grand Cherokee are all big revenue opportunities that will greatly pad FCA’s bottom line.
Brian Moody, executive editor, Autotrader
Jeep shows what’s possible when a company truly embraces the essence of its brand. For the longest time, Jeep was a bit of an outlier, a misfit. But now, the company seems to have a new sense of confidence and is really capitalizing on its “off the beaten path” attitude. The newest products – the Wagoneer family and Grand Cherokee – are important because they look to embrace the kind of authenticity Jeep is known for but also push the brand into a more grown-up, sophisticated package. It’s like this: Jeep was always the quirky oddball from high school, only now that kid has grown up and has a super cool, rewarding job. Now guess who everyone wants to be seen with?
Matt Delorenzo, senior managing editor, Kelley Blue Book
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer marks the brand’s return to a segment that it virtually created and then abandoned three decades ago. Much has changed since then. We will be watching to see if the storied brand can recapture share in a segment that now has formidable competition in the form of the Range Rover and entries from nearly every luxury brand — Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Cadillac and Lincoln. While Jeep has a reputation for great off-road capability, new technology has enabled the competition to level that playing field. The challenge for Jeep is to not only maintain that rugged off-road reputation, but also up its game with a luxury SUV that can compete on features, quality of materials, interior design and appointment and price.
If you would like to speak with one of the expert analysts from Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book or any member of the Cox Automotive Industry Insights team, please contact us.