I’m a lucky guy. Not only did I get to attend the Houston Auto Show media preview day, but I got to see Jim Morrison in person. No, I wasn’t on something. I was already amped up by being there. Jeep’s lead singer (Director) of Product Marketing was at the event to show off the brand’s new Altitude models.
Even after 2013, the year in which Jeep sold a record 731,000+ vehicles world-wide and achieved double-digit sales increases of its Compass, Patriot, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler rigs, the company has plans to climb higher. Its new Altitude special editions should help it strive for Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s goal of selling 1 million Jeep units in 2014.
Shrouds were pulled away to reveal a charred Cherokee, a two-tone Wrangler Unlimited and a black-and-white Grand Cherokee.
Despite launch hiccups, the Cherokee has sold well for Jeep. Morrison said it sold a total of 25,000 of them last November and December. And the new SUV has earned its legendary seven-slot grille by making it through the torturous Rubicon trail, to which Morrison personally attested. “It will do it. It’s unbelievable how capable it is.” The Altitude-spec Cherokee will be priced around $25,000 and available with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or a 3.2-liter V6. Look for it at your local Jeep dealer in late spring.
For such a beloved vehicle within the company, the Wrangler Unlimited (with the Altitude package) didn’t get talked up much at all. I don’t think that will hurt sales of the $35,000 icon, especially in Houston, the home of the number one Wrangler dealer in the world. When Morrison introduced the first Altitude model in H-Town a couple of years ago, the public was eager for Jeep to apply the same package across the board. The company listened. And for good reason. “We have the most passionate customers in the world,” Morrison said. Those enthusiastic buyers will soon be able to choose from five Altitude models.
On the other hand, the Grand Cherokee Altitude was given more of an introduction. The off-roader will fall between the Laredo and Limited models. For “just over $35,000,” it will pack a standard sunroof; the Pentastar V6, good for 25 mpg; sporty, perforated cloth and leather seats; and default 20-inch wheels.
But that wasn’t “The End” of my Jeep experience. The rough-terrain enthusiasts had an entire off-road course set up inside the Reliant Center. Stay tuned for the account of my trip through Camp Jeep’s Four-Wheel Drive Adventure.