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Friday, October 22, 2021

Jeep and Ford start war of words over off-road cred

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Jeep has started taking pot shots at its big American rivals, as it gears up to launch an all-new Grand Cherokee and seven-seat Grand Cherokee L.

In the firing line? Ford, which has recently revealed a more off-road focused Timberline version of the Explorer. It’ll go head-to-head with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee when the new GC launches in the USA.

“I actually feel sorry for (Ford Explorer Timberline) customers that get tricked,” said Jeep North America president, Jim Morrison, in an interview with Muscle Car & Truck.

“You can paint a tow hook red. It doesn’t mean that behind the tow hook it would even hold up in the right moment that it needs to.”

The Explorer Timberline gets a raised ride, all-terrain tyres, and a locking rear differential over its more road-focused stablemates, along with some visual changes to make it look more rugged.

Ford didn’t take Jeep’s criticism lying down, telling its rivals at Jeep to “stay classy”.

“I guess it’s been a long year for Jeep watching Bronco and Bronco Sport rack up hundreds of thousands of sales and reservations — and comparison test wins versus Jeep — and now comes the rugged and capable Timberline editions of Explorer and Expedition with trail-tested off-road hardware, increased manoeuvrability, ground clearance, trail modes and accessories,” a Ford spokesperson told the Detroit Free Press.

“And we both know Explorer is America’s all-time bestselling SUV.”

The Explorer Timberline isn’t the only space where Ford has started muscling in on Jeep’s turf.

The Bronco is the most appealing mainstream rival the Wrangler has faced since the turn of the century, and Ford has made no secret of the fact it’s chasing Jeep’s long-running off-road hero.

Unfortunately, it’s not a battle we’ll see playing out in Australia.

Jeep has confirmed the Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L for Australia, but the Ford Explorer won’t be coming Down Under.

Likewise the Bronco, which is off the table locally. Jeep continues to offer the Wrangler here.

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