They say once a Jeeper, always a Jeeper – but not if you bought any one of these worst Jeeps ever. All automobile brands and biggies tend to jet out a few duds mixed with their hits – the only thing being, sometimes these duds can alter consumer perception and completely drown a marque or an example. And sometimes, the cars deserved to be hung and quartered, because they were made in such a slipshod manner.
It would have been better off for both the consumer and Jeep if these ten bad Jeeps had never been made because these were so not keepers…
10 Unpatriotic: Jeep Patriot (2007-2017)
Calling this the “Patriot” was perhaps a last-ditch effort by Jeep to rile the American in you, and buy an American car (okay technically Fiat Chrysler by now). The good thing is that if compared to the Compass, it looks more like a Jeep, and feels more like a Jeep in terms of headroom, cargo room, and off-roading capabilities. However, it more of a relative point than an actual one. Plus it came cheaper than the Compass so if you had to buy a bad Jeep, the Patriot was better than the Compass. Other than that, a poor driving experience, cheap interiors, bad fuel economy defined the Patriot till Jeep wizened up and killed it in 2017.
9 The Rock Scraper: Jeep Grand Cherokee (2005-2010)
Jeep tried something new with the Grand Cherokee in the mid-2000s, and it nearly took the Cherokee off the car bazaar for good. Introduced in 1993, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was selling well over 200,000 units per year in the US till the 2005 model kicked in and sales dropped to a quarter.
A refined suspension was the villain here – so added to add more refinement to the body movement of the Cherokee, but with just 8-inches of rock-scraping ground clearance, the Jeepers foamed at the mouth. This was a veritable rattler – it jarred and bounced on roads that it hitherto took without a hitch, and had turned into more of a city car with the non-Hemi engine options. It bounced back with its fourth generation though.
8 No Trail Ratings: Jeep Compass (2006-2010)
What’s a Jeep that cannot off-road? Technically, it’s the Jeep Compass, specifically model years 2006 to 2010. 2011 is when the Compass got its trail ratings, though most Jeepers are dubious about the Compass, period. The Compass was aimed for the non-Jeeper who aspired to be a Jeeper but could not Jeep to save his life. Confused? So is the Compass. A weak engine, with a horrible CVT (continuous variable transmission) and cheap interiors, further drabbed up the Compass. It was branded as a compact SUV but many would beg to differ – since it didn’t have off-roading capabilities, it just seemed like a rather strange hatchback, with little to no cargo room either.
7 More Like A Bronco: Jeep Commando (1972-1973)
AMC acquired the Kaiser line of Jeeps in 1970 – and all was well for two years with the Jeepster/AMC Commando continuing to sell well. Then AMC decided to stir up the pot with their indigenous flavors and launched the C104 – increasing the former 101-inch wheelbase to 104 inches. This was done for the Commando to accept the AMC straight-six or V8 engines, instead of the Hurricane straight-four or Dauntless V6 that the C-101 carried.
The front grille now looked more like a Ford Bronco so those who wanted to buy a Bronco went to Ford and those who wanted to buy a Jeep staved off their decision. Finally, the Commando went kaput and was relaunched as the full-sized Cherokee. The end of the Jeepster Commando came slow but steady.
6 All Glammed Up: Jeep Cherokee Chief Golden Eagle
This special edition is a prime example of how to take a perfectly good car, add some tacky stars and sprinkles and turn into something a 70s mob boss would like to be driven around in. Here go the steps. Take the perfectly able two-door version of the 1979 Jeep Cherokee. Now add a massive eagle on the hood, one that is visible from the moon. Add some gold wheels, splash some red and gold decals wherever you want and then kill the interiors with an overuse of tacky denim. Oh and if the car still looks plain, add a surfeit of bronzed paint. Finally, add a longish fancy name. Yup, this is what special meant in the 1970s!
5 A Bad Replacement: Jeep Liberty (2002-2007)
Why would you take a perfectly able Cherokee and kill it, and then replace with the Liberty? Things seemed to be going wrong for the Jeep in 2002 – why else would they launch the Patriot, the Compass, and the Liberty all at once? All of these models received a bad rap and Jeep’s hitherto unchallenged off-road status took a rock-scraping, mud-encapsulated nosedive. The very design of the Liberty was its biggest fail – where the Cherokee was all masculine grace, the Liberty was floppy and flabby. 2002 was the year of cheap interiors for the Jeep, and the cheapest bits went into the Liberty.
4 More Woes: Jeep Liberty (2008-2012)
In 2002, everyone yowled about how the Liberty was the worst replacement ever for the beloved Cherokee and an insult to its memory. After five years of a downward spiral, the Liberty toughened up and went the Cherokee way. The redesign was stronger and looked more like the legendary Jeeps of yore. In a classic case of too little, too late – this Liberty did not work for the consumer who was now the least-bothered about off-roading and preferred crossovers instead. The engine was still lackluster and the design, while Jeep-ish, was more Commander than Cherokee. Perhaps, in this case, the failure lay more with consumer expectations than the actual car.
3 Square Vs Round: Jeep Wrangler YJ (1986-1995)
For the Wrangler CJ fans, the Jeep Wrangler YJ went down in ranking because it replaced the round headlights of the CJ, with square headlights housed in a softer body. Seriously, that’s all it took to dent the reputation of the AMC-introduced Wrangler YJ. Talk about Jeepers taking their Jeeps very seriously. Too seriously, perhaps. The YJ did have better interiors, and rode a lot smoother on all roads as well – but the CJ-loyalists still hated it. Luckily, there was a whole lot of potential buyers waiting for the YJ and many did lap it up even if the previous Jeepers were a nitpicky lot.
2 Needed A Diet: Jeep Commander (2006-2010)
If you compare the Grand Cherokee with the 2006 Commander, the former is two-inches shorter and 400 pounds lighter than the latter. On the same power and drivetrain, the Commander was sluggish, while the Cherokee was light on its feet. And it's not as if the Commander looked good – frankly, it looked like an overstuffed and obese Cherokee, and drove the same way as well. Fuel economy was bad, the V8 engines responded sluggishly and interiors just looked forced instead of good. The Commander was a fat Grand Cherokee with extra seating and a desperate need to go on a diet to shed the extra pounds.
1 Just A Trim: Jeep Grand Cherokee Grand Wagoneer (1993)
The nameplate gives us a genuine headache because somehow it has brought two separate cars as one. There was once the Jeep Grand Wagoneer that they ended in 1991, and then there is the Jeep Grand Cherokee that basically replaced it and is still a viable nameplate. But in 1993, someone at Jeep got smart, or grand smart, and introduced the Jeep Grand Cherokee Grand Wagoneer as the most luxurious trim of the Grand Cherokee, with wood grain decals. Frankly, the Grand Cherokee did not need the Grand Wagoneer’s help to sell because it was doing fine for itself. So why the grand confusion? And the grandstanding?