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New Jeep Cherokee - Jeep Gets Back to Basics

Aug 29, 2008
There is no mistaking the fact that the future of the recreational four-wheel drive vehicle is beginning to look ever more uncertain. As with a lot of lifestyle choices these day's there are those who seem happy to ignore the health warnings (It's my choice and all that) as is the case with smoking for example, but inevitably when a wealth warning becomes self-evident then people become more likely to sit up and take notice.

I think it would be fair to say that if you asked the average American motorist a few years ago about driving a more fuel efficient car they probably would have politely backed away from you as if you were slightly mad. I recall visiting the USA a few years ago and being dumbfounded by the cheap cost of fuel especially as it was priced in gallons. This practice was abandoned long ago in the UK partly due to the European Union but also I think to hide the true cost, after all despite the metric system most people still refer to how many 'miles per gallon' they get from their car.

It's pretty startling how things have changed in the last few years, when I read motoring articles from the USA nearly all have some reference to high gas prices or how to save money by using alternative fuels. Some people seem to be experimenting with all kinds of things often resulting in blowing up their engines as a result. One thing which seems certain is despite the occasional fluctuation in price the days of cheap motoring for all are set to be a thing of the past.

Until recently the manufacturers of less fuel efficient cars have been able to confidently sit back and raise two fingers to the traditional environmentalists who have been arguing against recreational off-road vehicles for a number of years, regarding them as a harmless but irritating group of misguided hippies. Now as with any evolutionary process it's a case of adapt or die and Jeep are determined to evolve.

I recall a few years back I used to catch the bus to work which although took twice as long as driving and meant a long walk at the other end I felt happy in the knowledge that I was not contributing to the chronic congestion which blighted my city. Most days the commute was fairly uneventful and I could hide in a book or turn up my music if some mad person insisted on sitting next to me and then started to ask if I liked sponge cake or saying something like "nice weather for ducks".

Occasionally the bus would simply not turn up and just as I was despairing, my saviour would arrive in the form of a green Jeep Cherokee driven by someone I used to work with. "Morning JB want a lift" he would say and to the envy of the large crowd at the bus stop I would proudly jump in and we would roar away albeit with some cringe worthy music blaring out but you can't have everything.

These were heady days and I would listen to my friend tell me quite proudly "just had a service done, cost me 500!" Blimey what's the fuel consumption like I said, "Well I get at least 30mpg if I take it easy" he would say and then floor it to get through the traffic lights so I guess 30mpg was a little optimistic. I became strangely attached to the car though and although the cream leather interior seemed ludicrously impractical it was easy to understand the appeal.

Apart from the obvious military requirements the demand for a vehicle which could be driven off-road without falling to pieces is what spawned the whole SUV market and believe it or not there are still people out there who genuinely need a rugged vehicle. Jeep has returned to their roots with the all-new Cherokee with the latest version not offering any concessions in the styling department. The softer lines of the previous model have been beefed up and the Jeep philosophy seems to be if you are going to stand the costs and ridicule of driving a 4x4 you can do it with masculine pride. Jeep has set a realistic sales target for the Cherokee in the UK and as we've seen with the smoking ban if someone really needs one, they will have it regardless.
About the Author
In his latest report Jon Barlow talks about the Jeep Cherokee and how the latest version is a return to basics
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