TL;DR version: I used to own a Jeep, then I owned a Chevy, now I own a Jeep. It makes me happy.
It’s probably inevitable that I’ll be flamed for owning trucks and SUV’s by a random burner, but in my defense, I actually transport personnel and equipment to a wide variety of facilities in the region using my personal vehicle. This includes towing trailers loaded with equipment and machinery. Some facilities are reached by pavement, others not so much. Besides, you know I’m an advocate of getting your four wheel drive a little dirty. This poorly written article supports my thoughts.
You also know I DD a beater Jetta when I’m not bouncing from facility to facility (and when it’s not being stupid and forgetting its purpose).
I should probably let you know up front that I’m typically a Chevy truck/SUV guy. I always have been. Is it because I think they’re better than Ford, Dodge, Toyota, or Nissan? Absolutely not. It’s because typically I know what’s going to break, when it’s going to break, how to fix it, or about how much it’s going to cost have it fixed. I'm looking at you 700R4.
Even though I'm a Chevy guy at heart, I have always had an affinity for Jeeps. The first one I owned was in high school in the late ‘90’s. It was a 1981 CJ-5 with an SBC swap. (Technically a Jeep/Chevy hybrid. Jeeprolet?) I rebuilt the engine from the ground up and it was pretty solid after that. The rest of the jeep? Not so much. It was a giant rust bucket and I spent more time working on it than I did driving it. I loved it. I have not been as fond of any vehicle I have owned (which has been quite a few) since the CJ. I desperately missed that feeling.
A few weeks ago, problem number whatever-I’m-up-to-at-this-point popped up with my current Tahoe. In the hoe’s defense, it’s got a lot of mileage on it and the problem is fairly common, but it’s one that I just didn’t have the motivation to fix. The individual issue is a moot point. Seeing as how I’ve been spending a lot of time under my beater, I decided spending time wrenching on the “good child” is something I didn’t want to do anymore given the frequency has been increasing as of late. The hoe needed to go to a new home and I knew exactly what I wanted her replacement to be.
I should preface this by letting you know I used to own a 65th anniversary edition Wrangler, but wasn't fond of the lack of space. And any lengthy ride was atrocious due to short wheel base and my regrettable decision to get a soft top. I thought noise fatigue was a myth. After a nine hour ride back from Florida, I wanted to set it on fire.
Enter the Wrangler Unlimited Sport. I’ve wanted the four door body style since they came out in 2007. But prior to 2012, Wranglers were equipped with a 3.8L V6. I’m being polite when I say I was not exactly thrilled with its performance. Yes, I realize it’s not a hot rod, but anyone who has driven the 3.8L and the current 3.6L would be lying if they denied the difference between the two (about 0.2L). So, I waited and waited until they finally ditched the 3.8L. I also waited a couple years to try and pick up a used one. If we're counting, that's seven years.
I ventured to my preferred Jeep dealership. I know them and they know me. I've purchased several vehicles there and my salesman has been there 15 years. He pulls keys to whatever I'm interested in, hands them over, and goes back to his desk while I take it whatever vehicle out. I love having a relationship with a dealership like that. I went in with the intention of getting a good deal on a used 2012 or maybe a 2013 if I was lucky. Ha! Wrong. The used ones are literally within $3-4,000 of a brand new one. Crap. New it is. I had three basic requirements: power windows, power locks and a hard top. Oh, and I’ll man up and accept my flaming for this, I desperately wanted a stick, but they said the four doors with a stick are few and far between, and typically come equipped only slightly better than a saddled donkey. So flame on, I was stuck with a slushbox no matter which I Jeep I chose. I didn’t want leather nor the nav/touchscreen, especially after having to replace the touchscreen in the Overland after a mere 20K miles.
My only other preference was decent tires. Every jeep on the lot, with the exception of the Rubicons, had what Chrysler may refer to as “all terrain” tires, but they definitely did not fit my definition. The tires on your grandmother's minivan are more aggressive. So I went around back to see what had recently been unloaded. And there it was. Black wheels, BFG MT’s, hard top, power windows, power locks. Sold.
It officially became mine as of the Thursday after Christmas. The weather was in the 40’s in the mornings and didn’t break 55 degrees over the weekend, but I drove around with the top and doors off anyway. I didn't see one other Jeep in town with the top off, let alone the doors, but I didn't care. I love it. I feel the exact same way I did about my CJ. Only with this one, I don't have to worry about it slinging a driveshaft through the floorboard (yes that happened, twice). I walk out into the garage in the mornings and smile. Finally.