2 years ago, I was in a bind. I needed a new vehicle, badly. My 13 year old S-10 was on the verge of giving up the ghost, and I had a new baby at home.
I began feverishly searching for a replacement vehicle.
Chevy quit making the S-10 a long time ago, so any model loyalty was gone.....besides, I needed something with a backseat for my kid. I hated putting him up in the front passenger seat, even with the airbag disabled....but I've always hated the "feel" of full-size truck too, so that option was out the window too.
I started looking at crossover SUVs, but never was really comfortable with the "utility" of them. Most all seemed to be cars with slightly different exteriors. My S-10 had always been a "go wherever I want" vehicle, and I didn't want to give that up.
Then I started looking at Wranglers......a brand I had previously dismissed as a "weekend toy": something more akin to a motorcycle than a dedicated family/work vehicle.
Finances weren't where I needed to be, so I had to wait a whole model year before I pulled the trigger....in the meantime I joined this forum and started putting together a wish list of things I was going to do to "make it mine".
When I told people I factory ordered a new Jeep, they all thought I had purchased a tricked-out ride with leather, custom wheels, and all the bells and whistles.....no one could figure out why I'd order something that was basically stock (my upgrades: A/C, Auto, 3.73 gears, Hardtop). It was as practical as I could make it, IMO. My one concession to style was choosing the 2dr over the 4dr.....I much prefer the look of the JK over the JKU.
I received it this time last year.....and spent the rest of summer and fall cruising the roads with the top off. When winter hit, my Jeep took me everywhere I wanted to go, even with the widely hated stock 225s. My kid's daycare parking lot looked like a Jeep convention....it seemed like they were the only vehicles that people were driving around.
I was one of the few people that didn't have any difficulty making it to work during one of the worst winters anyone could remember. Jeep likes to call the Wrangler "the official vehicle of summer" but as far as I'm concerned, it's got a strong claim to the "official vehicle of winter" too.
I've got a ride that can cruise with convertibles, trail ride with 4x4s, and haul a couple kids and a load of groceries (although admittedly it's difficult to do both sometimes). I picked the automatic so it would be a friendlier drive for the wife, and she loves it so much I'm expecting her to roll into the driveway with one of her own any day.
Are there better offroad rigs (including modded JKs)? yeah
Are there better commuter cars? yeah
Are there more idiot proof winter drivers? yes
Are there better grocery getters? Absolutely
Are there "funner" cars to drive......maybe
Is there anything that can do all of these things as well as a bone-stock jk? I don't think so.
My JK is a swiss-army knife on wheels....and was the practical choice for me.