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Quick Spin: 2019 Jeep Cherokee – New Face and New Power

Over the years, decades really, the Jeep Cherokee XJ is has developed a cult following and it is quickly becoming an icon. In a brand that has so many icons, and given its modest unibody setup and family-friendly purpose, that is quite an accomplishment. It’s unlikely that its replacement, the Jeep Liberty, will ever see the same kind of love. I would even bet that the hugely popular Grand Cherokee will never be that loved.

Jeep is aware of that XJ love. That is why they brought the Cherokee name back in 2014. But that new Cherokee didn’t receive the instant love that the brand executives may have been hoping for. In the world full of bubbly CUVs, the Cherokee was a bubbly SUV with a front-end that can be best described as striking. But the sales number, surely helped by the economy, were good, significantly outselling the Liberty.

For 2019 the Cherokee gets a refresh. The Cherokee design goes back from being striking to a more conventional and relaxed design, similar to those of the bigger Grand Cherokee and the new smaller Compass. And it also gets a new turbocharged engine. Will these changes yield more love for the iconic model name?

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The 2018 Jeep JL Wrangler: What’s old is new and it’s better than ever

Jeep could not afford to mess up the launch of its new JL Wrangler. The good news here is that it didn’t. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is the best Jeep ever made, in fact. A touch of improved styling, more engine options, a fully refined interior space, and greatly improved on-road dynamics leave us in love with the JL.

This specific JL Wrangler being driven is a two-door Sport with the soft-top and 3.6-liter V6/8-speed automatic. It’s a combination that results in a surprisingly quick-on-its-feet Wrangler. You can hustle it when you have to, but it definitely hasn’t lost any of its off-road chops.

There are two more engine options on the way as well. The turbo four-banger mill will offer a bit more torque than the Pentastar V6, and the eventual EcoDiesel will come thundering along with 442 pound-feet of grunt. Both of those are only available with the eight-speed, and the eight-speed for the diesel is tuned specifically to handle the increased twist on tap.

As it sits already though, the 3.6-liter is fully enjoyable with the automatic gearbox. It’s a strong combination that increases the daily drivability of the new JL Wrangler. Yet it’s still fun when you want to get the Jeep absolutely covered in mud and dirt.

[Disclaimer: Jeep tossed us the keys to the JL Wrangler and included a tank of fuel. We had to wash the Wrangler three times…]

Review: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – The Best Hellcat?

Great news! Sports cars are not dead! You can enjoy them on a summer day or a drive down a twisty mountain road. They make great rewarding track cars, too. And you will certainly look cool driving around town in your mid-engine machine.

But if you’re looking for fast, like real-deal street fast, the answer comes from an unlikely place – Jeep!

Yup, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. For those not paying attention, the Trackhawk is a Grand Cherokee based on the SRT model but with the 707-horsepower engine from the Challenger/Charger Hellcat twins under its hood. And, unlike on those twins, that engine sends all that power to all four wheels.

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Temporary Solution to Buggy UConnect Update

Kamil Kaluski February 13, 2018 Featured, Jeep Reviews

Yesterday, the walking obscure car encyclopedia of man, , reported about an over-the-air update to FCA’s UConnect system. The update went out on Friday, right before all the FCA software engineers packed-up and left the office for the weekend. Unfortunately the forced update introduced an amazingly annoying bug into many of the newer vehicles – the whole UConnect infotainment system would reboot approximately every minute. 

This is a big issue because the UConnect system is more than just a radio. The touchscreen controls audio sources, phone and other Bluetooth connections, climate system, navigation, and even heated seats. Most importantly, the backup camera image is displayed on that screen. When the system is in the process of being rebooted none of that works. Once it’s finally up and running, everything can be accessed but for less than a minute, until the vicious reboot cycle starts up again. 

I currently happen to be reviewing Jeep’s amazing 707-horsepower Grand Cherokee Trackhawk which received this update. Like on so many other vehicles, this Jeep has the rebooting problem. Let me tell ya, it is extremely annoying, even on this ridiculously powerful and fun-to-drive vehicle. The system gets stuck while changing Sirius radio stations. Using Apple CarPlay is pretty much impossible. USB ports lose power, and obviously connection, when the system is rebooting. The biggest problem I have noticed is backing up, as the camera simply does not display during the reversing process. We all have come rely on these as the rear visibility in many new cars isn’t great, so this is a safety issue. 

But there is a solution…

UPDATE: FCA pushed a new update. The system no longer reboots itself but the SiriusXM Travel Link no longer works, upsetting the three people who actually used it. 

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Review: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Dear Readers:

For years, Redusernab and I have been providing you with exacting, original, and interesting content. Other than comments and votes we have never asked for anything in return.

Until now.

The month of January is an important one; it is the month of the most important holiday of the year – my birthday. I won’t ask for your good wishes, phone calls, thoughts, or even any small bullshit gifts. I don’t need any of that. But what I do need is the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler. Because it’s awesome.

Love,

-Kamil

Yes, as the previous owner of a CJ and TJ, I say it’s that good…

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A Week With The Rugged Ridge Mango Jeep

Back in June, I took a trip down to the Atlanta area to visit Omix-ADA/Rugged Ridge.  While down there with a number of other journalists we toured their warehouse and museum and got to take several of their historic Jeeps for a drive around the industrial park in which the offices resides.  We also took several modified JK Jeeps out to drive offroad through some North Georgia trails and through a few water crossings.

One of the Jeeps that we drove on the trail, the one they called Mango, was shipped up to Detroit and put in the local press fleet.  For whatever reason, most pubs didn’t so much as get the rig dirty.  When I was ed to see if I’d like to review the Mango Jeep, I said SURE and in doing so was determined to drive it in the environment it was designed for, as well as see how it did the daily grind.

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A Return To Rugged Ridge

Omix-ADA Rugged Ridge Showroom

The phrase, “It’s a Jeep thing you wouldn’t understand” is one we have all heard, and to a point understand, but have you ever deep dived into the Jeep culture? Even just for a short time? A recent trip to Atlanta to visit Omix-ADA (i.e. Rugged Ridge) gave me a taste.

In a fairly short time, Omix-ADA has carved themselves out a nice niche in the $3 billion dollar Jeep aftermarket. Starting in 1993 they now have over 10,000 SKU’s and over 300,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Taking a tour of their warehouse was fairly eye opening, the width and breadth of their product line were substantial. If you want to farkle up your Jeep, or you want to replace almost any part in an older CJ, they probably have it. The owner, Al Azadi, is known for finding crates of parts in interesting places, acquiring them to stack them high and deep because there will be those two people who need that one part. We saw the crates, many with old Chrysler era markings from the Philippines and Malaysia. While they resell a number of brands, they also manufacture most of their own SKU’s and also white label some items for Mopar.

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Quick Spin: 2016 Jeep Cherokee Overland 4×4

Jeep says that the Grand Cherokee is made of the best stuff they have, or something like that. I would agree. Having reviewed several versions of the Grand Cherokee, I loved them all, and I would own one if it was available with third row seats. There is something that just makes the Grand Cherokee better than most of other Chrysler products.

With the Cherokee Overland model, which Jeep launched about a year ago as a mid-model year 2016, and carrying it over for 2017, Jeep is trying to put some of that that Grand into the smaller Cherokee. It is basically the top-of-the-line Cherokee model, most easily identifiable by it body colored trim and polished wheels.

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Loaner Review: 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

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I had high hopes going into my few days with the 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. I knew that on one hand, the KL Cherokee fits my wants and needs perfectly: 4WD with low range, safe, comfortable, room for a vacation’s worth of stuff, large automaker backing, go almost-everywhere capability, and it’s a Jeep. But then the other hand slapped me in the face when it came to actually driving and spending time with the Cherokee, as that’s where things went wrong.

While the Jeep was a seriously nice loaner, for me it’s not necessarily a nice long-term-ownership vehicle. I was hoping to love it to the point of considering placing an order for one, but there were so many things “wrong” that I couldn’t do so without my soul being ripped out. It’s not that the Cherokee is bad, because it’s certainly a good vehicle all-around, it’s just that it’s entirely devoid of all feeling and sensation and as such is boring and unexciting to drive as well as to spend time.

Do I like the Cherokee? Sure. Do I like the Trailhawk? Definitely. Would it be a “perfect” vehicle for my needs? Abso-frickin’-lutely. Do I want to own one?

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Jaguar XJL: Long, Luxurious, and Lightweight

If you’re shopping in the full-size luxury sedan segment, things are going well in your life. This is an expensive place to party, but you’re going to wind up going home with a winner.

This is a space dominated by Germany and Japan. We have the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and the Lexus LS. There are others, of course. Some a bit less expensive and others costing as much as a condo or a house.

Somewhere in between all of that lies the Jaguar XJL. It’s a long-wheelbase sedan from the kitty company that’s now known for its rip-roaring V8s. How can the automaker’s full-size four-door get away then, with packing a 3.0-liter V6 under the hood here?

Well you add a supercharger to push power to 340-horsepower. You also build the body panels from aluminum to keep the weight down.

To take things even further, you create a seriously lux interior space, add way more style, and then price the thing better than the rest of the competition…

[Disclaimer: Jaguar tossed us the keys to the XJL, loaned us the car for a week, and included a tank of gas. During that time I founded a new hedge fund and bought a Hatteras because if felt like I could… the hedge fund is bankrupt and, if the insurance company asks, the boat was sunk off Catalina island by “pirates”.]