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Jeep Sales Keep Soaring as Shoppers Dismiss Poor Quality Ratings

Is Jeep the new Jaguar?

Last month, Consumer Reports readers ranked the sport utility vehicle line the second-least-reliable in the U.S. market, leading only Fiat. If quality alone mattered, Jeep would be doomed to the bargain bin.

Instead Jeep is, by any other measure, a massive hit. The iconic brand is closing in on a second-straight year as the fastest-growing major auto line in the U.S. Sales in the market rose 23 percent this year through September, outpacing second-place Subaru’s 14 percent, after soaring 41 percent last year. Jeep, along with Ram, is the main moneymaker for the third-largest automaker in the U.S., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

“Jeep reminds me of the European sports cars of the late ’50s and ’60s,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with “They were just nightmares in terms of quality and reliability, but people still loved them. Jeep is unique. People of all ages really aspire to owning one. It has a certain cachet, regardless of the surveys.”

America’s renewed affection for trucks and SUVs, deepened by available credit, affordable fuel and the latest technology, is pushing auto sales to the highest level in at least a decade, helping fuel Jeep’s expansion.

When automakers report October sales on Tuesday, the...