High in Houston: Jeep’s New Altitude Models

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Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude

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.

Jeep Cherokee Altitude

The “Altitude” name was chosen by Jeep out of 112,000 submissions. The winning suggestion came from a customer who used his Wrangler Rubicon to reach his farm in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

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.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude

The Wrangler Unlimited Altitude was equipped with heated black leather seats.

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.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude

The Grand Cherokee Altitude will join Altitude special editions of the Compass, Patriot, Cherokee and Wrangler.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude interior

In case you don’t know where you’re going in high places, the 8.4-inch touchscreen for the navigation unit is there to help you find your way.

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.

Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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