Ask Nathan: Is This 3-Row Jeep Wrangler For Real, Car Stealerships, And Why Did GM Ax the Chevy Cruze?

More discussion on some of this week's burning questions!

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Will Stellantis actually build a three-row Jeep Wrangler?
  • Why even bother when “Stealerships” will take you to the cleaners?
  • Why did they kill off the Chevy Cruze?
Jeep’s Wrangler Overlook concept hit SEMA this year, with three-row seating no less. (Image: Stellantis)

The first question comes from a fan who is very curious about the production potential of a 3-row Jeep Wrangler concept that debuted at the 2021 SEMA show. It’s officially called the Jeep Wrangler Overlook concept.

Q: Nathan my man, just saw your 3-row Jeep Wrangler story and I got to know if Jeep is serious?

This would totally be the answer to one of my biggest issues! I know Jeep has the Grand Cherokee L and the Wagoneer coming up. But those are WAY to soft for what I need! We just got a Gladiator last August and we love it. But I can’t take my kids AND my friends with on a camping trip or off roading!

I know you guys are tight with the guys at Jeep and I hope you can ask them if this thing is for real! I remember you guys did a video where a guy used a Gladiator to build his own 3-row Jeep Wrangler type SUV. The one I seen at SEMA looks a lot more logical for production. Don’t you think?

Please let me know what you think!

— Doug from Littleton, CO

A: Yes, a 3-row Jeep Wrangler would be epic – but…

There is a ton of research that has to happen before something like this could even hope to see production. Passenger safety, weight distribution, EPA requirements, DOT requirements, factory tooling and unit cost have to be considered. On top of that, as you mentioned, the Jeep Grand Cherokee L and Wagoneer could be issues.

It’s possible that sales of a 3-row Jeep Wrangler would sap the sales numbers of the other SUVs.

On the other hand, Stellantis is fully aware that Wranglers are remarkably popular. Building a new option for consumers could offset their costs for R&D, along with sales balance with their other products. It’s hard to say. I do know that if we see this concept (or a similar one) at the 2022 Easter Jeep Safari, they may be contemplating this thing for real.

We’ll see!

— N

The next question comes from several viewers, and my cousin, regarding the need to purchase when many dealerships will rip you off. There were a ton of comments attached to the video below.

Q: (Summarized from a ton of comments) Why bother dealing with “Stealerships?” Just wait, or fix up your car until things level out.

The recent comments boil down to:

  • “Just get a Tesla, no dealership issues to worry about”
  • “No, we need to abolish dealerships and their state government protections. We need to buy directly from the manufacturer, like Tesla is doing.”
  • “Please. You’d be better off ordering from a certain car maker that doesn’t have markups and rent a tiny car for 8 months if you’re walking into a $15k markup.”
  • “Remember the dealers that do this now, so when things normalize you can take the opportunity to put them out of business like they deserve later.”
  • “Why aren’t automakers punishing greedy dealerships that pull this?”

… and many, many – many more comments.

Bronco dealer markups — over $100K

A: To TFL Viewers:

I wanted to address some of these comments on YouTube, but there were just too many. As such, I gathered a few to explain my perspective. Here are five examples, with my answers.

  1. People should just stay away from dealerships until this shortage is over.” In some cases, that’s impossible. There are many reasons why people need a new car, but this one is simple: accidents. There are about 5.25 million accidents across the United States on a yearly basis. That’s according to the National Highway Traffic Administration. A majority of those cars have to be replaced. People need cars, and they are (more often that not) replacing newer cars. Hell… I had to, and I hated it.
  2. “Just get a Tesla” Yeah…hold up a minute. That’s not a solution that fits everyone’s needs or budget. The rear-drive Tesla Model 3 “Standard Range Plus” model starts at $45,190, including a $1,200 destination fee. That’s before options. Not everybody wants a pricy electric vehicle. Before you mention “rebates,” keep in mind: that does depend on eligibility, tax bracket and what-not. Some folks need more space, capacity, a pickup, or an off-road vehicle, and so-on. Yes, the online, no hassle setup kicks ass, but it’s for a product that has yet to appeal to the masses. Simply put: as good as Tesla is, they don’t have an automobile for everyone – yet.
  3. Just rent a car until this passes. Or, while you’re waiting on a car to be built.” There are a few things to keep in mind here: I hate renting, and I’ll never lease (under most circumstances). A “good” weekly rate for a long-term rental is about $100. Good luck finding that deal. I’ve seen $150 and up for weekly rentals in the Denver area. Still, you’re out of pocket at least $4,800 for a “cheap” rental. Worse, you have no equity in a long term rental or a lease. Check out my friend MotoMan’s video about the financial risks.

Some dealerships even advertise that they sell for MSRP. Yay!

  1. “Why aren’t dealerships being punished by automakers?” That’s a great question, but the answer is more complex than you’d probably like to hear. Dealers are not legally bound to sell vehicles at or even near MSRP, and they have the ability to set prices toward whatever they think consumers will pay. Automakers want dealerships to buy from them, otherwise, a Ford franchisee could become a Toyota dealership overnight (just an example).
  2. Remember dealerships that rip us off. After things settle, we will avoid doing business with them.” That’s a great thought, but it will be hard to do. These very same dealerships will (probably) offer massive incentives after the shortage ends. It will attract new customers, despite potential boycotts at the moment. Still, the idea of direct sales is more widely mused among manufacturers these days, so the “old” days of car sales are likely numbered.

The bottom line is: for the next year or so, we will still be fighting through this shortage. Hopefully, those dealerships that sell at MSRP (and there are a few), will get the recognition they deserve!

— N

The last question comes from two comments about the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Cruze.

QAfter owning a 2016 Chevy Cruze for five years, I still love it.

It’s the best car Chevy built. I don’t understand why it’s gone. I have almost one hundred thousand miles and only had my pads and battery replaced!

— F (brother-in-law)

…and from last week’s “Ask Nathan“: “80,000 is doing well for Trailblazer. – 150,000 results in Cruze being cancelled.”

— Ray

A: Thanks for the questions!

I really liked the Chevy Cruze, especially the diesel, the turbo and the hatchback. Sadly, the sales numbers for the Cruze were heading downward, and Chevy cut the cord seeing people’s growing interest in crossovers. At its best, the Cruze blew past 300,000 North American sales (in 2014), but by 2019, sales were a little over 50,000.

Part of the cancellation has to do with GM working on transitioning over to all-electric vehicles in the near future.

Like Ford, GM is killing off many of its cars in favor of crossovers and SUVs. Hell, Buick doesn’t even sell cars anymore, period. It’s a sad sign of the times — unless you’re a big SUV fan, I suppose. I would happily own a hatchback RS turbo with a manual, if they even existed.

Bottom line, most “American” automakers are done with, or shrinking car production in favor of crossovers.

What ‘cha gonna do?

— N

Well, Toyota still builds cars, and here are two super frugal examples!