YESTERDAYíS HERO?

JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE

THE JEEP GRAND CHEROKEEíS METEORIC SALES RISE HAS BEEN MATCHED BY ITS PLUNGE FROM GRACE.

2015íS MOST POPULAR 4X4S

Jeepís Grand Cherokee was the big loser in 2015. In the 4x4 sales chart it slid from fourth place in 2014 to seventh place in 2015 and is no longer Australiaís most popular 4x4 wagon. More significantly, its sales dropped by a whopping 4618 units (or 28 per cent) in 2015 compared with 2014. This is by far the biggest drop of any of the top-ten 4x4s, and is way in front of the Navaraís 2762 sales slide.

Itís hard to know why the Grand Cherokee has fallen from favour so quickly, although one theory is that people who see themselves as individuals often buy Jeeps and, as the Grand Cherokee has become more common in recent years, its appeal to this type of person has faded. Remember the self-deprecating ďI bought a JeepĒ campaign? Certainly the Grand Cherokeeís less-than-perfect build quality and niggling unreliability havenít helped its cause.

Nor has the fact that this generation dates back to 2010 and itís most recent facelift was in 2013.

So, if people arenít buying Grand Cherokees, what are they buying? Well, thatís difficult to say, but theyíre certainly not buying Toyota Pradoís, because the Pradoís sales decreased in 2015 compared with 2014 too. Some Grand Cherokee sales could have gone to Isuzu, which sold 1719 more MU-Xs than it did in 2014, or Holden, which sold 1536 more Colorado 7s in 2015 than in 2014. And while the Ford Everest was only on sale for a couple of months at the end of the year, itís already managed to rack up 1245 sales.

Regardless of its declining popularity, the Grand Cherokee is still a great drive and one of the best back-road tourers going around. It has handling, performance and standard equipment that shame a Toyota Prado or a Land Rover Discovery, and it is still pretty handy off-road, even if it isnít up to the all-terrain performance of those two.

Moving forward, itís hard to see the Grand Cherokee going anywhere but backwards, given that it will be one year older and will come under increasing sales pressure from the Everest. A new-generation Grand Cherokee canít come soon enough for Jeep.