Jeep has been building off-road and sport utility vehicles since 1941 (civilian vehicles since 1945), making it the country’s oldest SUV brand. They were originally provided for the U. S. military during World War II, specifically light 4-wheel drives for the Army. Willys-Overland, the manufacturer of Jeeps, provided about 640,000 units for the war effort, and the initial contract price was $648.00 each.
Thousands of Jeeps were left behind in the Philippines after the Allied victory over the Japanese, and most were converted to taxis and became the primary mode of public transportation there. Called Jeepneys (Jeep/jitney), they were also my primary mode of transportation beyond the gate at Clark AFB while I served there in 1970. Up front, each Jeepney had a driver and a conductor, who managed passengers and collected fares. Air Force GI’s rode in them to their favorite bar for about 20 cents.
Jeep, now owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, LLC, has sold the Wrangler since 1987, and the compact SUV is now in its 4th generation configuration. Since 2007 it has been available in a 4-door “Unlimited” model with an additional 20.6” of wheelbase, but my latest test vehicle was the Wrangler Rubicon 4×4 Hard Rock two-door Although much evolved, the Wrangler remains a knockoff of the original Army Jeep of the 1940’s.
My test Wrangler was good-looking Firecracker red clear coat paint outside with black leather seating and front buckets that were heated. M.S.R.P. for the Jeep was $39,255.00 and included the base price, freight, connectivity group ($1,570.00), 3-piece hard top/soft top ($595.00), and Hard Rock convenience package ($4,500.00). The Hard Rock package included power locks/windows, cruise, tilt, XM radio, fold-down 3 passenger rear seat, and Bluetooth connectivity. Cargo capacity is 55 cubic feet with the back seat folded and 12.8 cubic feet with it erect.
A nice feature of this year’s Wrangler is the new 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6 with 285 (@6,350 rpm) horsepower and 260 (@ 4,200 rpm) ft. lb. of torque. Along with the 6-speed manual transmission, it provided me with enough power and can go zero to 60 in 8.5 seconds. Gas mileage ratings are 17/21, city and highway, 18 combined and my observation was 18.8 mpg for the week. Ride and guidance on the road with the Jeep is better than can be expected and wind noise is acceptable. Off-road capability is exemplary, of course, with 2-speed transfer case, ample ground clearance, and the limited-slip differential.
I mentioned the paint – also, the Jeep had 17” polished semi-gloss black 5-hole alloy wheels, BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A, LT255/75R17 black-letter tires, fog lights, iconic seven-slot grill, and front tow hooks on the bumper.
When the Rubicon arrived, I was extremely excited to run around with it. Not being a hunter or fisherman, however, I suppose ownership of such a car would be inadvisable for me. For those that want it for those activities, I strongly suggest they take a look at buying one of these Jeeps.