Jeep is the brand name that comes to mind when anyone considers off-roading. Jeep has a long history of rough and tough off-road fun. However, with stricter guidelines for automobiles, the future generations of all Jeep vehicles will see great changes. One of the biggest alterations may be the loss of solid axles on Cherokees.
Even more upsetting news is that the 2016 Wrangler is about to join the club with an independent front suspension. However, Jeep manufacturers claim that a vehicle without solid axles is still capable of producing formidable off-road performance. Proof of this lies in other similar brands that have turned to independent suspensions, including the Hummer H1. In fact, an independent front suspension enhances the ride of a vehicle during trips by providing predictable handling at all speeds and road surfaces. With an independent suspension, the tires move freely when confronted by an obstacle. Often, there is even better ground clearance than on a similar vehicle with a solid axle. Even though a solid axle usually provides better control on an RTI ramp, this has almost nothing to do with the total performance of the Cherokee. Most Cherokees are not used as rock climbers.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are some die-hard Jeep enthusiasts who feel that these types of drastic changes will mean the end to the brand’s tradition and legend. The people who are most upset by these changes are those who enjoy customizing various Jeep vehicles. It appears that it is much easier to apply aftermarket kits for a vehicle with a solid front axle.
Mike Manley, the Jeep brand boss, is already defending the possible changes to the Wrangler. When interviewed by Automotive News, he made statements trying to assure the public that the changes being made will not affect performance in any bad ways. He went on to compare the Wrangler with the Cherokee by stating that “even though the Jeep Cherokee no longer has a solid front axle, it is still ‘trail rated’ and performs well under all conditions.”
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