THE JEEP, an AMERICAN ICON
It’s hard to find a vehicle more American than the Jeep. Fact is, there are a lot of reasons that the Jeep—and specifically its trademark model, the Wrangler—is regarded as one of the most distinctive and timeless automobiles ever. This is why we fall in love with Jeeps.
It’s The Original SUV
The big difference between the Jeep Wrangler and most other SUVs is that you can actually use your Jeep to do the things you see it do in the commercials. There are no delicate underpinnings that will come flying off the first time you leave the pavement and no feature too bougie to withstand a good off-road romp. You can actually climb mountains, tackle snow, ford through rivers, cruise sandy beaches—and still fit into that tight parking spot downtown. Jeeps were built for running trails, with high- and low-range 4×4 systems to help you clear legit obstacles. Their high ground clearance and wheel articulation means they really do handle the adventure stuff that other SUVs just talk about.
Go Topless. Or Doorless. It’s a Jeep Thing
At its heart, the Jeep Wrangler is a pretty basic vehicle—essentially a sweet metal box on a jacked-up frame. But being made like a real-life Lego set means one thing for sure: versatility. The Wrangler’s design allows owners not only to drop the top, but also to remove the roof entirely. Do, however, get a friend to help if it’s a hard top as it’s hella heavy and definitely a two-person job. You can also pull off the doors—or go totally old-school and lower the front windshield all the way onto the hood. As a personal note, the no-doors summertime look is particularly striking on the four-door Wrangler Unlimited models. And because it’s a Jeep, you can easily remove the rear seats for more storage room and better rear visibility, especially with a hard top in place.
It Makes You Part of an American Automotive Legacy
What other car on the road today can trace its history directly to World War II? Prototype Jeeps first appeared in 1940 and went into mass production during the war, built by Willys-Overland (pronounced “Willis” by super-cool Jeep people everywhere). Hundreds of thousands of the initial MB model were produced during the war. Meanwhile, civilian jeeps (hence the CJ name you might still hear associated with two-door Jeeps) came after the war, capitalizing on the vehicle’s instant legend. And while the brand has changed hands many times over the years—it’s now owned by Fiat of Italy—every new Jeep Wrangler for the U.S. market is still built in Toledo, Ohio, just as they have been for the better part of 75 years. Hoo-rah!
You Can Go Crazy On The Accessories… Or Not
Make no mistake, a Jeep’s rudimentary character is partially on purpose as the Jeep Wrangler is easily the most modified and accessorized automobile in America—and around the world. Nearly every part—from the seats to the roof—can be customized, swapped out, updated or fitted with better bits. And don’t forget the easiest and most important accessory: those Jeep window stickers letting the world know what a true enthusiast you are.
You Get To Live ‘The Jeep Experience’
One word of warning: If you’re buying a Jeep Wrangler for the creature comforts, well, you’ve got the wrong idea. In fact, your Jeep’s simplicity and off-road versatility also mean it tends to forgo the bells and whistles (and speed) of a traditional car or contemporary SUV. If you’ve opted for an upscale, trail-ready Rubicon model with larger, rock-crawling tires, the vehicle’s highway dynamics can be bouncy, noisy and even a little challenging at speeds over 65 mph. Engine improvements over the past decade mean today’s Jeeps have a higher-output, 285-horsepower 3.6-liter engine to give you more cruising confidence. But you’ll always feel the occasionally precarious nature of the two-door Wrangler’s short wheelbase. Believe it or not, fully carpeted interiors and padded roll bars are a relatively new thing on Wranglers, although it’s not uncommon to find fully tricked-out, high-end models as well. You know, if you’re into that.
You’re Instantly a Member of a Secret Club
There aren’t many vehicle brands that instantly conjure an entire lifestyle complete with a wide, informal circle of devotees, but the Jeep Wrangler is definitely one. It’s a symbol for someone who lives an adventurous, outdoor lifestyle—the kind of driver who can pack up and head out to Joshua Tree, scale a rocky trail in the Appalachians, or cruise down miles of empty beach on South Padre Island. Of course, you’ll also likely spend plenty of time in your Jeep in traffic, too. But at least you’ll get waves of acknowledgment from other Wrangler drivers, who are part a secret driving community every bit as strong as that of passing motorcyclists.