Muscle Car Owners Are Dumping Mustang, Camaro, Challenger for Jeep Wrangler, FCA Boss Says

As it turns out, buyers don't care about speed or off-roading as much as they do American pride.

When buying a new car, many consumers find closure in offering their old vehicle to the dealership as a trade-in. Not only does it rid the consumer of having to deal with a private sale, but it can also take a huge chunk out of the cost of a new automobile or perhaps absolve the cost of an upside-down loan. But for Jeep buyers, trade-ins are more than just financial—they’ve proven to be the gateway from a myriad of different automotive segments into one particular platform: the Wrangler.

While most Americans shop around in the same segment when trading in, that’s not the case for new Jeep owners. In a recent interview with Muscle Cars and Trucks, Jeep’s North American Director Scott Tallon revealed that outside of repeat Jeep customers, its biggest trade-ins don’t come from other trucks or vehicles with enhanced off-road capabilities. Instead, they’re coming from muscle cars.

“The pony cars… a lot of them got traded in,” revealed Tallon. “Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and even our Dodge Challenger.”

Although the choice to trade in two-door ‘Murican muscle towards a trail rig might seem odd, it begins to make sense when you stop trying to compare pretty much every physical feature of the vehicles. This is less about finding an auto with an identical purpose—it’s about cultural underpinnings. Both segments are cultural icons that dig deep into the roots of American car buyers who would rather choose a lifestyle vehicle than a mundane commuter. It’s something consumers want, but not necessarily something they need, and that’s a segment where the Wrangler fits perfectly.

Oddly enough, outside of the Wrangler, the rest of the Jeep lineup doesn’t follow this trend. Tallon also spoke about the brand new Jeep Gladiator, a vehicle which appropriately targets pickup truck owners who happen to also want a Jeep. The Gladiator aptly took in the owners of mid-size and full-size trucks, seeing the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado as its primary trade-in victims.

Of course, pickup truck owners also make up a high volume of trade-ins for the Wrangler, but that’s not exactly surprising compared to the muscle cars.

The Wrangler will soon be sharing its limelight with the upcoming Ford Bronco, and it’ll be interesting to see if Ford’s revived model follows the same trend, especially given the platform’s perceived likeness to the Wrangler.