Jeep Grand Cherokee Alternatives, cont.

November 14, 2009

To reiterate: the Grand Cherokee is set to get a makeover for 2011, with multiple changes that will make the vehicle both more competitive and less Jeep. With the changes to the Grand Cherokee, and Chrysler’s management changes, ownership changes, and a basic look at Chrysler’s history, I felt it was needed to give my boss a list of alternatives to the Jeep.

Since the Jeep Grand Cherokee (from now on called GC) is not mainstream, like a Ford Explorer or Chevrolet Traverse (in the past, I would have said Trailblazer…I guess Chevrolet saw the writing on the wall, just like Ford did with their next model of the Explorer) nor as luxurious as a Mercedes or BMW, I felt it was needed to find alternatives that competed with the GC in price and features. I felt a V6 that was fairly powerful (or an optional V6 or V8) was needed, safety and technology features were needed, and it needed to have AWD/4WD as an option (of course). So, what did I suggest? Here goes:

Buick Enclave/GMC Acadia

Buick Enclave Buick Enclave Interior

GMC Acadia GMC Acadia interior

So, of course, with my love and admiration for all things General Motors, these vehicles would be at the top of my list for an alternative to the GC. I know, I know – they are much larger than the GC. But, if you get a fully loaded (which my boss will) GC, then an Acadia or Enclave doesn’t look too bad. I lean toward the Buick, but then, I am a Buick man. In my opinion, other than the Cadillac Escalade, the Enclave is the most luxurious SUV in GM’s stable. Quiet, smooth ride, nice handling, competent engine, and a very nice interior, it is overlooked for the simple fact it’s not advertised and it’s a Buick. The Acadia is also well-received, and shares its platform and engine, and multiple interior bits with the Enclave. It doesn’t have the polish the Enclave has though.

Lincoln MKT

Lincoln MKT Lincoln MKT interior

Being a GM fan doesn’t stop me from complimenting Ford on a job well done. Lincoln’s new lineup is very impressive, and I love the look and design of their new vehicles. The only one that needs something done now? The MKX, which to my eyes is a styling disaster. Back to the MKT: based on the Ford Flex (which itself was based on the Taurus X, which was based on the Volvo S80/XC90) it is a very quiet, luxurious ride just like the Enclave. Long wheelbases help these vehicles ride amazingly smooth, but it also means this vehicle is also longer than the GC. The MKT also has an interesting option that is available on almost all new Fords – an Ecoboost V6 with 355 horsepower. Not only does it offer decent fuel economy, but it has astounding power. With the GC offering a V8 with 360 hp, the MKT is able to compete against it fairly well, while getting significantly better fuel economy. While on that subject, what is up with Chrysler’s fuel economy? Why does every vehicle get worse mileage than comparable other vehicles in the segment?

Cadillac SRX

Cadillac SRX Cadillac SRX interior

Based on two different platforms – a car (new Buick Lacrosse), and another crossover (Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain) – the Cadillac SRX is a little heavy for both of its engine options, but is priced similar to the Jeep. About the same size as the GC, with plenty of room and style, the Cadillac seems like a nice fit. Technology and safety features abound, but I still feel like the Enclave is a better vehicle.

Acura MDX

Acura MDX Acura MDX interior

Of course, some will say – how does an Acura compete with a Jeep? Well, it goes back to the image – not mainstream, but now BMW. In my opinion, Acura does not compete with BMWs and Mercedes’. They just aren’t as nice – just as technological, but not as nice. Very nice handling, huge feature set, nice engine. Competes well against the Jeep, just not in the same class as others, even Lexus. Of course, this is my opinion. Also, you don’t really see many Acura’s on the road in Oklahoma. So, this vehicle is included just based on the image it portrays.

Mazda CX-9

Mazda CX-9 Mazda CX-9 interior

Longer than the GC, but with a similar feature set. I know most of you are saying: you are including mostly just crossovers. Fourth (fifth) vehicle on the list, and none of them are serious off-roaders like the Jeep! Settle down – the new Jeep will still be a strong off-roading machine, but not like the current model. Who really goes off-roading that often anyway? Its the image that’s important here, in my opinion – an SUV gives off that aura of “I will go anywhere I want, thank you very much.” Not many people know the difference – a crossover is perfect here. Much better fuel economy, better ride, a lot of creature comforts, just not able to seriously go off-road. AWD/4WD is more for show/snow than for getting dirty. (Also, how many people when pointing out SUV’s have you heard say “It’s a Jeep/Explorer”? Too many don’t know the difference in the vehicle in the first place).

Fun vehicles I listed

These are vehicles I considered “fun” because they are not well known, not advertised, newer, and kind of compete with the GC.

Acura ZDX Inifiniti FX

The image on the left is the new Acura ZDX, and the other is the Infiniti FX.

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