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Corner Office from Marketplace

Why Jeeps are turning into luxury SUVs

Gigi Douban May 14, 2015
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Gas prices have gone down, car sales are bouncing back, and a big part of that growth is the SUV market. One particular area of renewed consumer demand has been where space and cushiness intersect: the luxury SUV. Auto makers are paying attention.

Jeep just announced it’ll make a luxury SUV to compete with Range Rover. And ultra-high-end brands like Bentley, Maserati, and even Rolls-Royce are jumping into the six-figure SUV sphere.

Just don’t call the Rolls-Royce all-terrain vehicle an SUV. That sounds so pedestrian. Rolls has a better idea.

“They call it the high-bodied car,” says Mike Austin, editor-in-chief of Autoblog. He says luxury car buyers want everything they had in their sedans—the seat massagers, the heated steering wheels—plus more room.

Robert Sorokanich, reporter for CarandDriver.com, says when Porsche came out with its first SUV, the Cayenne, car enthusiasts thought it was a bad move.

“Now we know that that car helped make Porsche more profitable than its ever been, and a lot of the other brands are noticing this,” he says.

Luxury car shoppers want the same thing Jeep offered with the Wrangler: the promise of an off-road adventure. Sorokanich says in reality, “they’re not going crashing through the Sahara. Shocking, right? But it’s the promise that you could do that.”

And the sheer delight when people gawk at your big, bad Aston Martin SUV.

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