2012 Jeep Wrangler Test Drive and Review
"Jeep understands that Wrangler is a brand within a brand
. They have maintained a great deal of what makes a Wrangler a Wrangler, while adding additional amenities that make living with a Wrangler a unique challenge. There are still some characteristics that I find hard to tolerate. Remove the hard top, and you’re left with a soft top that is a bear to take down and secure, and even more difficult to put back up. Though cabin and road noise have been substantially reduced, Wrangler is still a loud vehicle on the road, which can be quite fatiguing on a long drive. There’s little secure storage inside the vehicle, just a glove box, the center console and a modest underfloor compartment behind the second row. The compromises have been reduced, but they remain significant for the comfort-oriented driver. And fuel economy is pitiful, even with the new powertrain. But Wrangler remains a totally unique vehicle, and it delivers mightily on its promise.
There are other capable vehicles off-road, but they all balance the equation differently. I’m a big fan of Land Rover’s LR4
, for instance, and I’m confident that it can go almost anywhere that a Wrangler can. But an LR4 is loaded with luxury appointments and sophisticated electronic equipment, and costs at least twice as much as a base Wrangler. A Toyota FJ Cruiser
is probably Wrangler’s closest competitor, but once again, it doesn’t have the purity of purpose that the Wrangler retains.
Wrangler owners are a devoted lot, and owning a Wrangler provides admission to the club. There’s a Jeep wave
, just like there’s a Corvette wave and a Harley wave (and probably a Ferrari wave, though I’ve yet to experience it). Wrangler owners recognize the spirit of adventure inherent in owning a vehicle that can go anywhere – even if it only goes back and forth to the supermarket. If you buy a Wrangler, please promise me, for your sake and for the sake of your Jeep, that you’ll take it on the trails every once in a while. You’ll be glad you did.