Why The 2014 Jeep Patriot May Be The True Successor To the 80s Cherokee

Front 3/4 view of the 2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude
The 2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude.

I suppose I am something of a traditionalist.  The clean, simple lines of the 2014 Jeep Patriot say "Jeep" much more to me than the avant-garde styling of its sibling, the Jeep Cherokee.  Last summer, Michael compared the Patriot to the previous Cherokee, the one built from 1984 on, and favorably so.

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Is An Acquired Taste

Front 3/4 view of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited
The 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited.

Having written recently about the best cars being works of art, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited presents me with a dilemma.  Perhaps it is a Picasso and I just don't see it.  That troubles me, because I believe I can discern between a Jackson Pollock original and a wall that just happened to get in the way of a paintball fight.

Much has been written about the styling of the new Cherokee.  It does, as noted by many, look better in person than it does in pictures.  But it still does not, to my eye at least, look good. The odd angles, the way the lamps (which are the headlamps and which are the daytime running lights? You will never know until you see one in motion) make it appear like it came from a Japanese studio in the bad old days of the early 70s when so many of their cars seemed to be inspired by Godzilla movies as much as anything else.

Why The 2014 Toyota Avalon Is The New Caprice or LTD

Front 3/4 view of the 2014 Toyota Avalon
The 2014 Toyota Avalon.

Among the casualties of the 1970s energy crises were large family sedans that aspired to be a bridge to luxury cars. Ford was the first of the type, adding better upholstery and nicer trim to the 1965 Galaxie to make it the LTD.  Chevrolet followed the next year, applying the same formula to the Impala and creating the Caprice.  Dodge and Plymouth did it as well, but less successfully.

For many middle-class families of the time, a well-optioned LTD was the next best thing to a Lincoln Continental, and there were those who could afford a Cadillac who couldn't see the sense in spending the extra money for one when a fully-equipped Caprice was everything a Cadillac was just two years before.

But, especially after Energy Crisis II in 1979, the concept withered.  Part of it was the downsizing of all American cars. Another was that the buying age for traditional American luxury had risen.  It was no longer the man in his mid-to-late 40s who had arrived.  Buyers of Cadillacs and Lincolns were suddenly, or so it seemed, in their 60s.  And the middle-class, middle-aged American family man and woman were no longer buying full-size Chevrolets and Fords.  The market had shifted to Toyotas and Hondas, specifically Camrys and Accords.


How The 2014 Lexus LX 570 Justifies Its Existence (And Price Tag)

Front 3/4 view of the 2014 Lexus LX 570
The 2014 Lexus LX 570.
Let's cite one good thing about the economic shakeup of the past five years:  It chased the me-toos out of the luxury SUV game.  Manufacturers who had no business blinging up enclosed trucks and selling them for inflated prices found the well running dry fast.  The action in luxury sport-utes returned to those who could play the game without breaking a sweat...the buyers who had significant bank, and the manufacturers who could deliver a high-quality product that justifies the price.

And that's pretty much a class of three.


Why The Lexus IS 350 F-Sport May Make BMW Dealers Nervous

Side view of the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport
The 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport

The very best cars are works of art.  It is visual interest, after all, that is the first connection most people make with an automobile.  Even those who do not consider themselves to be "car people" will usually admit that the car they are driving was chosen mostly because of how it looks.  In fact, that may be more important to them than it is to enthusiasts, who may be willing to overlook aesthetics in favor of the driving experience. Take BMW, which certainly has an identifiable look, but hardly an exciting one in recent years. Yet they sell because of performance.

A car that can provide visual interest and excitement before it is even driven, and then back that up once in motion is a powerful combination.  And after years of building strength upon strength--first handling, then engine power, now styling--the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport appears to have reached that balance.