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Jeep Balancing Off-Road Chops and Fuel Stops

SUV brand helps set course for resurgent Chrysler.

by on Feb.15, 2011

Jeep aims to pull the rest of Chrysler uphill.

As pundits write endlessly about the resurgence of Chrysler, they talk mostly about the influx of new product at the company’s Dodge and Chrysler brands. But the troubled U.S. maker’s turnaround will also rely on its off-road brand, Jeep.

Despite being the first one of the Chrysler/Fiat’s five brands to launch a major new product as the company plotted its post-bankruptcy strategy, Jeep has been almost an afterthought. Just don’t tell that to Mike Manley, the president and CEO of the brand.

If you do, you’ll be reminded that Jeep Grand Cherokee — redesigned for 2011 and launched last summer — was the first Chrysler product to be launched as part of the new product offensive. And it was good enough to land on the finalist list for North American Truck of the Year.

Manley also will remind you that the compact Compass SUV was recently refreshed and is now trail-rated, and that other Jeep models have been significantly updated in one way or the other, mostly with updated interiors.

“We were the first brand to make news this year,” Manley said. “We’ve got some very good space now.”

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