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"I'd rather be behind the wheel of a Wrangler": Why Jeep says it doesn't fear Chinese newcomers like the GWM Tank 300 and incoming BYD Fang Cheng Bao 5

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Jeep: Chinese vehicles don't have "proven capability"
Jeep: Chinese vehicles don't have "proven capability"

Jeep says it doesn't fear Chinese newcomers like the GWM Tank 300 and a host of other incoming products because not only are the American brand's vehicles "cooler", but its Chinese rivals can't offer the "proven capability" of models like the Wrangler.

So said Jeep Wrangler product manager Rick Crichton, who told CarsGuide that, while Chinese brands had "credible" cars, he believed his customers would "rather be behind the wheel of a Wrangler".

"They largely occupy a different subsegment of the market, right? They're at the entry to the market perhaps for price-conscious individuals," he says.

"They're not going to have the proven capability, and proven over decades of time, that the Wrangler can offer. So things like front swaybar disconnect, locking front and rear diffs, fully floating rear axles.

"These are all one-percenters, you might call them, over and above some of the competition that set the Jeep aside and give it its rightful position."

Crichton was talking at the launch of the new 2024 Wrangler, which ups the tech and comfort, and swaps out the V6 for a new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.

The new powertrain offers slightly less power, but more torque, but perhaps more importantly, it helps to significantly improve the on-road manners of Jeep's most iconic off-road vehicle.

Already GWM has launched the Tank 300 in Australia, and there are more off-road-ready offerings from China on their way, with the list expected to include the BYD Fang Cheng Bao 5 and even Chery's Jetour off-road vehicles.

But it's off-road capability and durability that Crichton says separates the Jeep from the pack.

"That's what the Wrangler's got to rest its laurels on, that it has proven over decades that it is the four-wheel drive that you want to be behind the wheel of in tough situations," he says.

"So by all means, they have credible cars, but I'd rather be behind the wheel of the Wrangler."

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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