It’s been 10 years to the day since American’s aura of invincibility was irreparably pierced by four hijacked airplanes. We all know where we were when it happened. It was the defining moment for a generation of youth who’d never known the horrors of a “real” war like WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. But that morning, our innocence was snapped over Osama’s knee like a twig (or was it, my dear conspiracy theorists?). Since then, the US economy – already beaten down by dot-com 1.0′s burst bubble – briefly rose like a Phoenix from the literal ashes, before economically imploding and returning once more. And so here we are, 10 years on. No wiser. Just older.
If times were uncertain then, they’re unknowably uncertain now. The intervening decade has done little to mend the scars that were torn into the world’s psyche on that cool Fall morning. After September 11, the world renewed its right to fear outsiders starting with radical Islam, followed by our greedy bankers and, ironically, the governments who were forced to save us from said bankers. Everything from airport security to the completely coincidental increase in the sale of 100mL bottles have since created a peculiar kind of conformity as citizens of the world are treated increasingly like numbered sheep for “their own protection”. In 2001 we talked about the world at 6 billion people. Today, we’re too scared to even bring up the subject, lest we offend someone.
Technological progress and the relentless drive of scientific advance make this following statement blatantly obvious, but never before has the world changed so much in so little time. Never. And, as fortune would have it, we were alive to witness it. But before you run to the car dealership, blessing your lucky stars with wallet open and ready, you deserve some car buying advice.
Let’s say that you don’t care what size of hair gel you can take on the plane, you don’t care how many people live on the planet, and you’re more scared of snow drifts than the stock market. You’re more interested in soft leathers, off-roading, and seating for five. If somehow, someway, you actually exist, we suggest that instead of going to the Mercedes dealership to look at that new (German) ML350, you pay a visit to the Chrysler dealer to check out the (mostly German) Jeep Grand Cherokee first. Wait, since when does a Jeep qualify as “German”?
Well ok, Jeep isn’t German anymore, but from 1998-2007, when Chrysler and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler teamed up, the Jeep brand was able to
borrow co-develop screws, bolts, and sundry metal bits with Mercedes. By the time the married couple had sorted their differences, the 2005-2010 WK Grand Cherokee had been signed off on and almost the entire GC development had been taken care of by Chrysler. Not so with the new-for-2011 WK2 GC, which shares a platform (whatever that means) with the new-for-2012 Mercedes ML. That’s right CarEnvyers, your 302 hp, $64,000 Mercedes and your 290hp, $38,000 Jeep share more than divorce papers and joint custody of the soccer mom demographic.
If recent reports are true, an ever bigger twist to this off-road love affair may be yet ahead. Maserati has plans to build an SUV and will be looking to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, or should we say Mercedes ML, platform for inspiration. If the Jeep GC is good enough for Maserati, it’s sure as hell good enough for you! Also it looks like Lamborghini isn’t the only Italian-German bastard love child anymore, but that’s another story.
Not as night-and-day as you were hoping? You’re not alone. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has returned to form as a viable alternative in the luxury SUV market and it offers customers a value that even Hyundai would kill for.
Which isn’t to say that there aren’t differences between the ML and Grand Cherokee, but if you go for the full-boat Jeep GC Overland for $50k, the differences are either three-pointed or academic in nature. Now that austerity is en vogue again, the Jeep looks that much more shrewd. And you want to be shrewd, don’t you?
So, in a very confusing way (perhaps appropriate given the anniversary), if you’re in the market for a new luxury off-roader, your CarEnvy Buying Advice for September 11, 2011 is to remember our neighbours to the south. And if you’re not looking for a new luxury off-roader, keep your thoughts and prayers with them anyways.
To better days ahead…
[Photo credits: al7n6awi/Flickr, Private Life #11/Flickr]