If a vehicle is built continuously for 75 years with updates every decade yet it’s still instantly recognizable as the original, can it be considered retro? That’s certainly a question that applies to the Jeep Wrangler. Today’s Jeep Wrangler has a direct lineage back to the Willys MB/Ford GPW that supported millions of allied troops in World War II and the conflicts that followed. Today’s Wrangler is immediately recognizable and shares many of the attributes of those originals, but is also different in so many ways.
Last year Fiat Chrysler Automobiles launched two B-segment SUVs based off the same platform but with very different designs and personalities. The more stylish Fiat 500X that I drove recently is targeted at a mainstream audience that wants the high-riding look of a utility with a modern look but has no intention of ever tackling anything more challenging than a gravel driveway. For those that actually want a real off-road capable SUV in a small package, there is the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk.
The Jeep Cherokee brand now has more than 40 years of history behind it and in many respects was responsible for transforming the SUV from a minor niche of the automotive market to a mainstream juggernaut. Following a decade during which the former DaimlerChrysler inexplicably re-branded the Cherokee as the Liberty in North America while keeping the original badge intact in the rest of the world, an all-new fifth-generation arrived last year with the old-school badge but some of the most radical changes yet to the skin and the platform.