Chrysler’s Glorious Mindset

Chrysler has been walking to a different cadence lately, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. It’s already been memed among car enthusiasts. While Ford and GM kill off their traditional cars and prepare for the inevitable electrified future, the glorious do-whatever-we -want minds over in Auburn Hills are probably measuring to see if the Hellcat motor can fit into their minivans. While that’s probably not something to hold your breath for, Chrysler (currently under the newly formed Stellantis) clearly has no use for the overly cautious eggshell walk that their larger counterparts so religiously follow. We’re all better off as a result.

In a world of downsized engines, e-assist everything, and promises to abandon recycled dinosaur-fueled transit within a dog’s lifetime, Chrysler’s core American brands seem more focused on ensuring you can own a real-life copy of the car you drew a picture of in elementary school. Here’s a toast to some of the craziest recent Chrysler vehicles or ideas. 


Ford creates an F-150 for high-speed desert running. Names it after a badass dinosaur. RAM, not to be outdone, creates a truck with the same intended function. Names it after a dinosaur that we all watched eat Ford’s namesake dinosaur in Jurassic Park. Also, it has over 700 Horsepower compared to just 450 from its prey, the Raptor. 

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk/Dodge Durango Hellcat

So, apparently, the “regular” SRT models of these two SUVs just weren’t enough. That’s more than 700 horsepower coming from family SUVs. Think about that. Imagine if the Toyota Highlander had a program onboard to measure lap times and g-force. Crazy, right. Well, these two have it. 

Jeep Gladiator

This truck hit the showrooms with love-it-or-hate-it styling, but it is what we’ve been asking for since the Comanche peaced out in 1992. Also, it’s a pickup with a removable top and a fold-flat windshield. 

V8 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep is dropping the 392 Hemi V8 in the Wrangler. Was it necessary? No. But that’s not how Chrysler works. With the Ford Bronco stealing the limelight in the off-road SUV realm, Jeep wasn’t about to sit in the stands at the game it invented; in fact, they announced the project the day after the Bronco was released. Prefaced in the 392 Concept, this a Wrangler complete with paddle shifters and capable of sub-15 second quarter-mile times. In a Wrangler. 

Dodge Challenger

Think about what this car really is for a moment. The current car dates back to the original Obama administration and has changed slightly over the years, but not enough to render it a new car since its 2008 debut. Since production started, we’ve seen countless packages and iterations, the most famous being the Hellcat, which has a diabolical horsepower output to match its name, and the Demon, which literally had Satan himself stitched into the seats. Oh, and it came with an awesome toolbox. 

Sadly, these days are limited. Time and progression eventually make everything obsolete, and Chrysler will eventually get on board with the pre-determined future of transportation. Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis recently stated to CNBC that EVs will save what he called “the golden age of muscle cars,” which is PR-speak for “The Hellcat cannot live forever, and its expiration date is closing in fast.” While great creations will come in the electrified future (Tesla has a mode called “Ludicrous Mode,” after all), this era of old school analog performance is coming to a close in the near future. Let’s just appreciate it while it’s here and give Chrysler its due respect for having such a “hold my beer” approach to making modern automobiles. Performance cars aren’t going anywhere; they’ll just be evolving. But until then, Chrysler still owes us a Hellcat-powered minivan. 


The Jeep Cherokee is in Danger of Losing It’s Name

As a result of recent events like the Black Lives Matter protests and the untimely death of George Floyd, America has been at odds with itself in redefining what social justice is. In the process, it has ruffled feathers on both sides. Companies and sports teams across the U.S. are re-naming brands and replacing symbols, names, and products that many deem to be culturally inappropriate for today’s climate. This has sparked controversy and backlash. From the re-naming of the Washington Redskins to “Washington’s Football Team” to the removal of rather insensitive names on bottles of syrups and rice, brands everywhere are rethinking their use of other cultures as a means for merchandising.      

The latest brand at this uncomfortable crossroads is Jeep. For the first time since 1974, the Cherokee Nation is peacefully calling for re-naming the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models. Here is what Chuck Hoskin Jr., the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, said recently.

“I’m sure this comes from a place that is well-intended, but it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car, the best way to honor us is to learn about our sovereign government, our role in this country, our history, culture, and language, and have meaningful dialogue with federally recognized tribes on cultural appropriateness.” 

Jeep has responded to Mr. Hoskin’s request stating…

“Our vehicle names have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride, we are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.”

Now, right next to operating room cleaner and sperm bank attendant sits political opinion writer on the list of jobs you couldn’t pay me to do, so I’m going to look at and analyze this issue with respect to the one job that I’d do without pay, an automotive writer. The ultimate point of a car company (or any company) is to make money. That’s the bottom line. As for my opinion that nobody asked for: bury the name, Jeep. You already killed it, anyway. When Jeep launched the UFO-inspired 2014 Cherokee KL, it was the first time Jeep made a vehicle that’s style was as controversial as its name. Jeep didn’t really care about the Cherokee’s legacy but just wanted to exploit it for money. It looked absolutely nothing like its (automotive) namesake, nor did it even look like a Jeep. But buyers didn’t seem to care. They had a glut for egg-shaped blobs in their driveways, and the Cherokee could have sold just as well had it been called something like C3PO or R2D2. This was an attempt to draw attention to the latest crossover now for sale to the buying public in hopes that the Cherokee name would distinguish it from the rest of the competition. But here’s the thing: nobody who buys this car care about the name, nor do they care about the XJ, as none of its spiritual DNA has translated. Ask any XJ purist. Ford just did the same thing when it launched the Mustang Mach E and glommed onto the storied Mustang name to draw attention away from whatever Elon Musk was doing. Neither the Mach E nor the current Cherokee are bad vehicles objectively. However, they are certainly not made up of any secret sauce that made the “original” versions so revered. Here’s the deal, Jeep; just end it. 

There’s no point getting involved in a PR nightmare over a name that most Cherokee customers really don’t care about. Face it, anyone who does anything that resembles off-roading is just buying Wranglers and Gladiators. The devotees of the XJ are not going out and buying the KL model. The people who buy the Cherokee (and Grand Cherokee) mostly buy them for the other name. The four-letter one on the front. The storied Cherokee name means really little to those who buy the current vehicles carrying those names, who mostly cross-shop it with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Jeep has a decent bank of names to select from, especially with the recently discontinued Commander, Liberty, and Patriot names. What will Jeep do? That’s anyone’s guess. We’ll just have to wait and see, and hopefully, both parties can come to an amicable decision.