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The race is on: Cherokee vs Wrangler

by David Zatz on

The U.S.  sales race is on between the Jeep Cherokee and the former front-running Jeep Wrangler.  While the Wrangler epitomizes much of what Jeep used to be — its go-anywhere capability, nearly-all-American design and engineering, and the style-and-form ties to the original Army jeeps — the Cherokee is more practical for most people, more technologically advanced, and newer.

18-inch wheels with pad prints

So far, the people have chosen the Cherokee, helped by constraints on the Wrangler’s production. Those constraints will not ease for at least a year, as the Cherokee is moved to a new plant (likely Sterling Heights or Belvidere) and the Wrangler moves into its spot.

The Wrangler has not had a full redesign for some years, and is missing some of the creature comforts of the Cherokee — some of which it can’t have anyway, since its removable roof and off-road chops reduce its comfort-and-convenience options. It is making do with a five-speed automatic, shared now only with the police edition of the Dodge Charger, while the Cherokee has a nine-speed which we’ve been assured will be completely sorted out for the 2016 model year.

2015 Jeep Wrangler Altitude

So far, the Cherokee’s sales have been 178,785 from January 1 to October 31, 2015, well over the Wrangler’s 173,264. However, there’s time for the Wrangler to catch up as winter weather hits, though now it seems unlikely.

Last year, the Wrangler, at this time, was also second fiddle — to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, losing the race for #1 by around 3,400 sales. Cherokee sales are up 24% this year, Wrangler sales are up 17%, and Grand Cherokee is up just 4%. (Patriot is up by 29% but hasn’t broken 100,000 yet.) Part of the problem there, too, is capacity. Adding the Grand Cherokee to its factory-mate the Dodge Durango brings sales of 208,681. Cherokee and Wrangler each have their own factories.

Jeep-Renegade-duo-Web

The other Jeep race is between the new Jeep Renegade and the Jeep Compass. The Compass’ sales are up just 1%, year to date, at 52,987, while Renegade is brand new and has already cleared 44,626 sales.  If Compass’ sales drop and Renegade supplies increase, the Italian-made newcomer could well beat the decade-old, heavily refreshed mini-Jeep.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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