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Which Jeep Is Most Reliable?

J.D. Power is the gold standard by which the automotive industry judges the quality and reliability of vehicles in the market. The dependability (reliability) ratings are based on the verified feedback from more than 80 000 owners of 3-year-old vehicles every year. The analysis focuses on the type and frequency of problems that the sample group has experienced during the past 12 months on their 3-year-old vehicle.

The Jeep Gladiator rated best of all the Jeep models in the 2020 J.D. Power Reliability Survey, scoring the 4th spot in the midsize pickup segment. The Jeep Cherokee placed 8th in the small SUV segment. None of the other Jeep models placed in the respective top 10 rankings of their segments.

The iconic American brand is doing better in the 2021 sales charts. The very popular Wrangler model places 5th behind some Japanese solid models but tops the American brands in sales. The Grand Cherokee is placed 8th on the sales same totem pole.

The success of the Jeep brand has much to do with its brand heritage and less to do with reliability. Jeep promises a life of adventure, and more things can go wrong when striking out into the unknown. Let’s investigate which models in the Jeep stable will offer the best reliability.

Which Models Do Jeep Offer And Which Are Most Reliable?

Jeep was born in 1941 out of necessity as the U.S. entered the Second World War. The vehicle was the first mass-produced light military 4×4 vehicle in history and has become synonymous with the American war effort ever since. The first Jeeps were also sent to allies in Britain and the Soviet Union in great numbers, making it the first global 4×4 brand.

After the end of WW2, the surplus army Jeeps started selling all over the world. The immense popularity made Jeep world famous. The brand changed hands many times in the following years and is currently owned by European investment conglomerate Stellantis NV.

The current Jeep model lineup consists of the top-selling U.S. branded SUV, the Jeep Wrangler, and the pickup derived from the Wrangler, the Jeep Gladiator. The Jeep Cherokee and big brother, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, are also top-rated models in the SUV segment. In the SUV segment, Jeep also offers the Renegade, Compass, and Wagoneer.

The Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator scores a credible 74 out of 100 and places 6th after the Ford Ranger (82), the Honda Ridgeline (81), the Chevrolet Colorado (80), the GMC Grand Canyon (80), and the Toyota Tacoma (78).

They analyzed the top 128 complaints against the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, the most common complaint related to the steering feel. Owners complained that the vehicle wanders on the road even at speeds as low as 30 mph, the Gladiator has trouble driving straight. Jeep did issue a service bulletin on this problem and advised that the problem could be corrected by reprogramming the power-steering software or replacing the steering gear.

Of equal concern are the reports of Jeep Gladiators catching fire due to leaks of transmission fluids onto the undercarriage and engine. Jeep issued a recall notice for this problem due to a lack of grease in the rear driveshaft.

The Jeep Gladiator earned praise for its off-road abilities, which should be no surprise as it is derived from the very highly regarded Wrangler.

The Jeep Wrangler

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler scored a J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 81 out of 100 on Quality and Reliability and a Consumer Verified score of 78. Despite being the top-selling American band SUV, the Wrangler did not make the top 10 Consumer Rated vehicles for Quality and Reliability.

The top fault reported on Wranglers is the totally integrated power module (TIPM). This component is responsible for the fuel pump, power window function, headlights, throttle control, and even the radio. This fault occurred even at low mileages, and owners have to pay around $1200 for a TIPM repair.

The “Death Wobble” is the second most reported customer concern. Caused by worn, loose, or damaged steering components, this problem has not resulted in a recall by Jeep. Efforts by owners to permanently solve this issue have not resulted in permanent fixes.

Problems with the Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) are ranked as the third-highest problem experienced by third-generation Wranglers. The TPS sends signals to the Electronic Control Module (ECM), affecting the gear changes. Unexpected gear changes while driving can be very dangerous.

Replacement of the TPS can be done for less than $200 for parts and labor. It is concerning to note that the simplicity and rugged design for which the Willy’s Jeep earned its brand fame has been lost in the pursuit of trying to compete with reliable off-road brands like Toyota.

 Apologists for the Jeep brand say that customers have unrealistic expectations of the vehicle and are more prone to buyer’s remorse and disappointment. Perhaps the nine changes in ownership that the brand experienced in the past 80 years is a more plausible reason.

In defense of the Jeep Wrangler, it is an off-road vehicle, thus working and playing in more demanding conditions than other cars. Unfortunately for Jeep, the title as king of the off-road is no longer theirs.

Why Do Jeep Only Offer SUV Segment Vehicles

In the 1990s, most SUV models were based on pickup-derived platforms and were relatively unsophisticated. They hardly featured in the sedan, hatchback and pickup dominated sales numbers, and automotive analysts had difficulty finding the right segments for them. In 2015, SUVs sold twice as many vehicles as was sold in the sedan segment.

The explosive growth of the SUV segment and the extensive offering of brands in this segment have been defining the industry for the past two decades. The legendary Jeep brand made it an obvious choice for this segment.

The off-road heritage and love that the Baby-Boomers had for the iconic American brand have allowed the Jeep brand owners to pursue this segment aggressively. It is sad to see how the lack of a long-term brand strategy has damaged the reputation of the Jeep brand.

The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee have undoubtedly sold very well for the brand owners. Diversification into more model offerings compounded by frequent changes in ownership resulted in some less successful Jeep branding.

What Is The Reliability Of The Jeep Grand Cherokee?

The $40,145 priced 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 is rated 6th in the midsize SUV segment with a consumer verified score of 80 out of 100 against a mostly less expensive field of competitor models. The Chevrolet Blazer scored top spot with 86 points for $37,000, with the Nissan Murano in the second spot with 84 points and a price of $34,000. The third-placed Hyundai Santa Fe scored 83 points and has a price tag of $29,300. The Toyota 4Runner, with a hefty price of $46,000, was in fourth place with a score of 82. In fifth place was the Ford Edge with 81 points and a price of $35,250.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee was an early entrant in the midsize SUV segment in 1993 and gained early success. In 2021 the Jeep Grand Cherokee ranks 8th in sales in the segment with almost 108,000 units. The Jeep moniker and early success are still proving valuable to bolster sales.

Sadly, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is responsible for almost a quarter of all Jeep owner complaints. Electrical problems seem to be the majority of the owner’s concerns. Car Complaints have registered more than 3000 problems, the worst being the TIPM issue.

The top fault reported on Jeep Grand Cherokee is the totally integrated power module, responsible for everything from the fuel pump, power window function, the headlights, throttle control, and even the radio. The Jeep Wrangler suffers from the same problem.

The second most significant concern is the leather covering on the dashboard bubbling up. Even though this is a purely cosmetic problem, the repair cost requires a complete replacement of the dashboard at the cost of $1600.

The most costly of the Jeep Grand Cherokee headaches is the failure of the electronic gear shifting on the automatic transmissions. These problems manifested at mileages as low as 12,000 miles and cost their owners $7,500 to repair.

There are also some very favorable reviews from Jeep Grand Cherokee owners of some of the early models that benefited from the Daimler-Chrysler merger and the halo effect of the German technology powertrains that found their way into the Grand Cherokees.

Jeep Grand Cherokees are expensive and do not retain their resale value well. Despite all these factors, many owners who love the Jeep Grand Cherokee give glowing reviews.

What Is The Reliability Of The Jeep Compass?

The Jeep Compass scored 78 points in the Customer Verified J.D. Power 2021 survey. In a tightly contested compact SUV segment, the $30,300 Compass achieved the 14th rank on the totem pole against some much cheaper competitor models. The Buick Encore costing only $25,900, attained a tied spot with 85 points with four other models. The very well-priced Kia Soul at $21,615, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport at $26,000, and the Toyota C-RH at $25,600.

The website called jeepproblems.com ranked the Compass as the second-best of all the Jeep models in the lineup. The first generation Compass models were sold between 2007 and 2016 and ranked middle of the pack 9th out of 18 models in this segment. The second-generation Compass was launched in 2017 and is currently ranked 4th out of 18 models.

Engine and electrical problems are the main concerns with the 2018 Jeep Compass. Many owners complain of excessive oil consumption by the underpowered 2.4L engine.

What Is The Reliability Of The Jeep Renegade? 

The Jeep Renegade scored 78 points in the Customer Verified J.D. Power 2021 survey. In a tightly contested compact SUV segment, the $27,770 Renegade achieved the 16th rank on the totem pole against some much cheaper competitor models. The Buick Encore costing only $25,900, attained a tied spot with 85 points with four other models. The very well-priced Kia Soul at $21,615, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport at $26,000, and the Toyota C-RH at $25,600.

It is anybody’s guess why Jeep has the Renegade and Compass as overpriced, underperformers in the same segment. The two Jeep models even share the same 2.4L engine and associated problems.

Whereas jeepproblems.com ranked the Compass as the second-best of all the Jeep models in the lineup, they ranked the Renegade as the 7th worst in the Jeep model offering.

The 2021 Jeep Wagoneer will compete in the large SUV segment against some very accomplished competitor models. No data on the quality and reliability of this model has been reviewed. After 30 years, the Wagoneer makes a return to the Jeep stable. We will have to wait until more data is available before passing judgment.

Conclusion

The Jeep brand started very strongly after it was first deployed fighting the Germans and Japanese during WWII. It also saw action in Vietnam and Korea during the 1960s and 1970s. The Jeep Wrangler is the embodiment of the Go Anywhere, Do Anything brand promise.

The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee remain the champions in the stable. However, the Jeep brand has suffered a decline in reliability for the past 50 years. The still iconic American brand has suffered abuse from a succession of brand owners and joint ventures.

It can only be hoped that the new owners, Stellantis N.V., will be more kind to the brand. The European joint venture between Italian dominated Fiat-Chrysler, and the French PSA will steer the future of a host of diverse brands comprising Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Mopar, Opel, Peugeot, Ram, and Vauxhall brands.

The impact of this century’s environmental challenges on the automotive industry has already seen a significant move towards hydrogen-powered and all-electric vehicles. It would seem as if some rationalization in brands and models is in the offing. Whether the Jeep brand will survive into the 22nd century has to be seen.

References

Louis Pretorius

As an amateur off-road enthusiast, I have always been drawn to outdoor adventure. I have decided to share all of my learning experiences with you as I dig a little deeper into my new-found passion and wonderful world of off-roading. My mission is to create the Ultimate Off-roading space on the internet in the process. Stay safe and happy Off-Roading!

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