Sometimes, enough is enough.
Jeep has every right to be concerned. For years, the brand owned the off-roading segment in America and elsewhere thanks to hot-sellers like the Jeep Wrangler, Gladiator, and Grand Cherokee. Ford is done watching from the sidelines. The reborn Ford Bronco and new Bronco Sport are only the beginning of the Blue Oval's response. The just-unleashed Explorer Timberline continues that bombardment. Jeep has taken note.
Over the past few weeks, Jeep North American president Jim Morrison has gone on the offensive against its crosstown rival. He's so far claimed Explorer Timberline customers are getting "tricked" and mocked the Bronco's hardtop quality issues. Competition is always a good thing but sometimes the smack talk goes too far.
Speaking to The Detroit Free Press, Ford spokesperson Jiyan Cadiz has a simple and direct message to Jeep (and Morrison): "Stay classy, Auburn Hills." Ironically enough, Cadiz previously worked for Jeep during the Fiat Chrysler days.
"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 maneuverability, ground clearance, trail modes and accessories," he said.
Cadiz clearly kept his cool and referenced the facts. There's no point to keep the smack talk going because, ultimately, it'll be the consumers who decided which make and model suits their needs best.
Jeep has certainly accumulated an extremely loyal following over the years and we seriously doubt many will jump ship to an arch-rival. As for Ford, its new off-road lineup will not only lure in previous generation Bronco owners and fans, but also a new generation of off-road enthusiasts who currently lack any brand devotion. In other words, get 'em while they're young and keep them for decades. That's exactly what Jeep did and the results speak for themselves.
Should Jeep be paying attention to Ford's new offerings? Yes, and Morrison's words, if you read between the lines, are proof it already is.