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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Update: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited final impressions

First, I must apologize to the readers who have been eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the Wrangler article.

As I mentioned before, the Wrangler drove terribly. Of course, this opinion is coming from a guy who spends seventy percent of his time driving in an urban jungle. I don't do any off-roading and articulation is used to describe a person's ability to speak well and not the suspension of a vehicle. I understand the vagueness of the suspension on the Jeep and its ability to traverse less than perfect terrain. What I don't understand is the lack of power for such a large vehicle.

This is a sideshot of the engine bay. There's definitely enough space to fit a proper V8. Now, I wouldn't have minded the lack of power or the vague steering if the interior was comfortable and welcoming.

By welcoming, I don't mean welcome me back to the 80s. As my girlfriend pointed out once she got in the beast, "everything just seems so archaic." The designers and engineers definitely didn't burn the midnight oil designing this. The stalks have little to no tactile feedback to tell you that they've been engaged. The wiper stalk on the right is positioned with about a half inch of clearance to the steering wheel in front or the center stack to the rear. I would go to turn on the wipers and next thing I know the radio is blaring Lady Gaga (like I said, my girlfriend was in the car).

Here's the radio, climate control, and... WINDOW SWITCHES?!?! Yes, the window switches as I've complained about earlier are on the center stack. Choy and I have tried to figure this out but to no avail. Our main thought was that the switches are there because the doors can come off. This idea was put to rest on the realization that the switchgear for the locks are on the door. And yes, that center stack is made of acres and acres of the highest quality hard plastic.

Forget all this nonsense. This Jeep was made to take you and your gear to the great outdoors. That is true if all your gear is tiny, it seemed.

Recently, I purchased a road bike and love the fact that I can transport it in my Mazda because it's a hatchback. So I thought the Jeep should swallow the bike whole without a problem... until I opened the rear gate and glass. That thing bisecting the giant cargo compartment is the convertible top. I couldn't find a way to get it out of the way (I wasn't supplied an owner's manual). Instead of being able to throw my bike in the back and go, I had to take the front wheel off and ever so carefully slide it in sideways under the convertible top.

In conclusion, if you need tons of cargo space and don't care about the driving experience get a real SUV or large crossover. If driving is important to you, a hot hatch will fit mostly anything. If you want to go off-roading, I'm not the guy you should be asking for advice.

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