Car News:  Oversteer

Hear Me Out: Kia Needs to Come Out With a Jeep Wrangler Competitor

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Rubicon
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler
MSRP $60,565
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Sport
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler
MSRP $39,710
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Rubicon
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler
MSRP $56,695
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Sport
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler
MSRP $38,715
RELATED READING
See all Jeep Wrangler articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs MAZDA cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Will Kinton November 2018

With only a few months left in 2018, I think it's time to reflect on the fact that we have completed yet another lap around the sun with no real competitor to the Jeep Wrangler. Sure, there's the Toyota 4Runner, there are Land Rovers and Land Cruisers and there are various 4x4 pickup trucks, but none of those vehicles truly compete head-to-head with the Jeep. You can't take the doors off and put the windshield down in any of those -- and, unfortunately, there's little hope on the horizon for a real competitor in the compact off-roader category.

The issue is that the Wrangler desperately needs a competitor to help sharpen its edge -- and, more importantly, its value. The most basic Wrangler you can buy will set you back $29,444 once you factor in the $1,495 destination charge (which is highway robbery considering most European-made vehicles charge less than $1,000). For context, that's about $2,000 more than a base-level VW GTI,and about $1,000 more than a mid-range Honda Accord EX. The GTI will give you an entertaining driving experience with a really nice interior for its price, while the Accord offers a ton of active safety features, dual-zone climate control and LED headlights.

The base Wrangler has none of that. Jeep even makes you pay an extra $1,295 for air conditioning, something that has been a common standard feature in cars for my entire lifetime. You may say, "Will, it's full of off-road gear that is very expensive! You're not spending money on the superfluous stuff so you can have a purebred off-road machine! It's a GT3 RS for off-roading!" My reply is that's a load of baloney. Jeep has been making the Wrangler and its predecessors since time began -- and they figured out how to make and develop that stuff in a cost effective way a long time ago. The only reason why the most basic Jeep costs almost $30,000 instead of $20,000 is because people will line up to pay that much for it.

Clearly, it would be better for everyone if Jeep had a competitor -- but who could it be?

Believe it or not, I think Kia would be very well-suited to this challenge for a couple of reasons. First, Kia has no legacy that would dog them. Kia has never built anything like the Wrangler, so the brand would be an absolute dark horse. Kia could drop a bona fide compact off-roader out of nowhere and people would probably give it an honest chance. We just saw this with the Stinger, which was built to offer the driving experience of a BMW 5 Series at a serious discount -- and it's been so well-received that even Kia themselves are surprised. The Stinger also proved that Kia is actually able to rise to the challenge of building something new and different.

Secondly, Kia is in search of an identity. Kia has finally gotten to the point where it's a well-respected manufacturer among the general public, but now they need a hook. So far, the only experiment Kia has really done in this direction is the Stinger -- so that gives Kia the ability to try out a broader, more unconventional line up. A Wrangler competitor, maybe in the form of a modern interpretation of the Suzuki Samurai, wouldn't look weird in an overall lineup. In fact, a purpose-built compact off-roader could act as the SUV counterpart to the Stinger, in that it's a car designed for fun in a line-up of competent but otherwise forgettable SUVs. Just like how Jeep does it, they could work the identity of that hypothetical off-roader into the rest of their SUV line up, creating an identity that pulls more eyes than their raw product would.

And then, of course, there's the huge demand: Both the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner are selling better than ever before, and off-road pickups are hot, too. Why not go after a portion of the market where buyers seem to be?

It may all sound crazy, but I think it would work. Kia is headed in the right direction, but the brand's SUV line up doesn't necessarily have anything that's truly compelling. If Kia threw an off-roader into the mix, maybe it would take the company to the next level. Most of all, a $22,000 SUV that can do what the Wrangler can will force Jeep to innovate harder and price it more competitively. And that would be great for all of us.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Video | Here's Why I've Already Spent $28,000 on My Ford GT
This Chrysler PT Cruiser Looks Like a London Taxi
Autotrader Find: Never-Titled 1997 Plymouth Prowler With Matching Prowler Trailer

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Rubicon
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler
MSRP $60,565
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Sport
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler
MSRP $39,710
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Rubicon
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler
MSRP $56,695
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Sport
New 2019 Jeep Wrangler
MSRP $38,715
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Hear Me Out: Kia Needs to Come Out With a Jeep Wrangler Competitor - Autotrader