The good life is coming easy for Jeep, or perhaps I should say, naturally. The rough-and-tough off-road brand that can credibly claim it helped win World War II is offering a level of luxury that borders on decadent in its latest line of SUVs.
After a weekend in the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, I can reiterate that Jeep’s status as a luxury good producer is legit. Really, Jeep’s upward mobility is nothing new. Anyone who has driven a Grand Cherokee in a top trim in the last decade will tell you the materials and layout rival premium brands of all stripes.
But jumping up into the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer (here's our First Drive Review) territory means a different kind of fight for Jeep. It’s facing off against vehicles like the GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. The Grand Wagoneer Series III like I tested starts at $104,000, and mine had plenty of options. At this point, Jeep is also taking aim at Mercedes, BMW and frankly anyone who makes a six-figure SUV. It’s not a Bentley Bentayga rival, but with huge touchscreens, soft saddle brown leather, rear infotainment, massaging seats, and silky McIntosh speakers, the Grand Wagoneer is one of the most well-appointed vehicles I’ve tested.
Will consumers pay six figures for a Jeep? Is it a luxury good? My sense is yes to both. Built just north of Detroit, the Grand Wagoneer offers an authentic Team USA vibe that works for things like Shinola and L.L. Bean. Jeep has been named the “most patriotic” brand in the U.S. for 19 straight years, and the Grand Wagoneer and Grand Cherokee L have small flags on their flanks, so there’s substance to support the marketing and mythology.
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The Lamborghini Countach LP 500 is back
Well, sort of. An ‘important collector’ commissioned Lamborghini to recreate a one-off replica of the original 1971 prototype that presaged the Countach. While the actual car was destroyed in crash testing in 1974 — things were different back then — Lambo painstakingly recreated the car that debuted at the '71 Geneva Motor Show using archival documents and original spare parts. It created new bodywork with modern tactics to get the details spot-on. It’s the pinnacle for Lamborghini’s historical division, Polo Storico, and one of the most ambitious legacy projects ever attempted by an automaker, rivaling Bentley and Jaguar works.
With the recreated LP 500 and an actual (limited-run) production model, the LPI 800-4, revealed in August, Lamborghini is calling attention to its history in new and creative ways. For Countach fans, it’s a promising sign that the name has a future and hopefully a more permanent slot in the company’s lineup.
Who is actually the EV buyer?
Coming off my recent test drive of the Hummer EV prototype, I was recently asked: Who is buying all of these EVs? Good question. With General Motors, Ford, VW, Mercedes and so many others diving into electric vehicles, it’s fair to wonder if the market will catch up with the aggressive targets many companies are setting for themselves (with encouragement from the federal government).
My read is that right now we’re in the late-stages of EVs for early adopters. Mainstream models, like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and VW ID.4 are within reach for many consumers and Audi and Mercedes are offering electric models to complement their traditional portfolios. Infrastructure is still a challenge, but EVs aren’t a crazy expensive pipe dream. If you want one, you can probably get one for about the same price or just a bit more than an equivalent internal combustion vehicle, when factoring in tax incentives. The compromises aren’t there, like they were even 10 years ago when buying a Nissan Leaf or hoping to snag a Tesla was the most realistic option for EV shoppers.
When will we move beyond this phase? I don’t think the US will ever get to 80% electric, like Norway, but my gut feeling is in five years, we’re going to see critical advances in EV adoption where almost every brand has something attainable for everyday buyers.
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