New to Wrangler Forum, Planning Pan-American Highway Trip
I'm new to Wrangler Forum. I just registered. I'm currently shopping for a 4X4, 90% sure it is going to be a 2012 JKU Rubicon. I may hold out for a 2013 if I can determine what is the earliest that I can order one. I just started joining the Jeep forums today, though I have been lurking for a few weeks.
I am planning on doing the Pan-American Highway in Spring of 2013. For those that don't know of it, it runs from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on the Arctic Ocean and goes south through Canada, the Rockies, Mexico, Central American, and all the way down to Tierra Del Fuego on the southern tip of South America. I plan on several side trips along the way including, probably, El Camino de la Muerte - or "the Road of Death" in Bolivia. I will probably drive back up the east coast of South America on my way back in order to hit Brazil and the Amazon.
While much (though not all) of the Pan-American Highway is now paved, many of the side roads and trails are not, which is why I am going to do the trip in a 4X4. Originally, I was originally contemplating doing the trip in a Land Rover or Range Rover, which seem popular on the Overland Circuit. However, the new ones are very expensive and look more like vehicles to go clubbing in, in the city at night. And I hate the look of the new FJs.
So I started considering the Jeep Wrangler. I like the traditional Jeep look and reputation. The downsides that give me some concern are: primarily, there are no Jeep Dealers or parts in Central or South America that I am aware of. I "believe" there may me some in Mexico. So I have some concern that a vehicle breakdown could be a major issue while traveling in those areas. I also have some concern about the limited fuel supply and mpg on the wrangler. I know there are some options for carrying extra fuel, and I've seen a couple of auxiliary gas tanks that are available - However, I'm not sure how thrilled I am going to be cutting up a new Jeep to install them, not to mention that I have no experience doing that. Finally, I am mildly concerned about the small cargo space available, though I figure that I can adapt to this.
On the plus side, I expect (hoping) the Rubicon to be reliable and I love the availability of a wide variety of Jeep accessories that are waiting for me to waste even more money on! But, one of the main tipping points, other than it "looks" like the vehicle to do the trip in, in selecting the JKU is the availability of a folding rooftop tent that replaces the hardtop. Google JK Habitat Rooftop Tent to see one. I figure camping will be one of the lodging choices on this trip and that tent puts you up off the ground and is quick and easy to setup and take down (see JK Habitat rooftop tents on YouTube).
Anyway, it would be interesting to know if anyone else has done, or is planning to do, the same trip. Finally, I will also be attending the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, AZ in May... is anyone else going to be there?