Jeep offering new models, updates as buyers increasingly choose SUVs

Jeeps have been around since the 1940s, but the SUV brand is seeing a resurgence in popularity.

"The utility market continues to grow as people move over from passenger cars. And the great thing is that with what we've done with the technology, there's really no compromise in fuel efficiency and on-road driveability," said Scott Tallon, Jeep brand director.

To keep the momentum going, Jeep gave the Cherokee model a refresh for the 2019 model year, which is on sale at a starting price of $23,995.

In a sea of SUVs, even people who don't know much about them tend to know what a Jeep is.

"It's universally known, and not just here in the States. It's one of those unique brands that's instantly recognizable," noted Tallon.

Like other brands, Jeep's keeping efficiency on the front burner. New for the Cherokee is an available 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Decent fuel economy is at 31 MPG highway, which could help erase the stigma that all SUVs waste fuel.

"The Cherokee went on a diet for 2019. We have a composite liftgate, and we took some weight out of the driveline for more efficiency," said Tallon.

If you want to go off-road, the Cherokee can certainly take on the task, particularly in optional Trailhawk trim, which ups the ante with 4x4 equipment, right down to the tires. But this vehicle is right at home on paved streets, where most SUVs seem to end up being used.

Yes, other SUV brands have all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, and other brands have electronic aids to help keep their vehicles sure-footed in the rough stuff, but Jeep has a certain cachet in the automotive world, which overcomes negatives like frequent poor showings in reliability surveys.

A lot of Americans just want a Jeep, whether they're actually going to take it off road or not.

"We've got a great quote, 'Every Jeep owner goes off road, most of them just in their mind.' But that's fine. It's even really beyond the actual vehicle. It's an outward expression of who they are, their personality and what they do," said Mark Allen, chief designer at Jeep, and an off road enthusiast himself.

So when you see someone in a Jeep, whether in the dirt or miles from it, they're expressing themselves and being part of the huge trend of driving SUVs.
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.