By in

Cars, Culture

on March 8th, 2019

For over 75 years, Jeep Wranglers in one shape or another have been at the center of off-road adventure in America. While the SUV market has morphed into something altogether new over the past two decades, the Jeep Wrangler has remained largely untouched. Sure, technical improvements have been added, but if the basic design of the Wrangler changed significantly there would be an uproar in the Jeep customer base.

Those not caught up in the fervor may wonder why the passion for the Jeep Wrangler is so fierce. Why do we go crazy for this four-wheel drive box-on-wheels that lacks many of the creature comforts other vehicles offer? And why the Jeep Wrangler is in such high demand with this Jeep dealership in Missouri?

The answer lies in the Wrangler’s uncompromising off-road ability that is entirely unmatched by anything else in the field.

Wartime Roots

Further to this, the Wrangler has the best origin story you’ll find. Back in 1941, with World War II looming, the U.S. government put out calls to develop a new type of truck. A lightweight, no-nonsense vehicle that could take a beating while carrying four soldiers, stretchers, or cargo. Willys won the contract for this “GP” (General Purpose) vehicle, and the Jeep carried servicemen with aplomb in dangerous situations all the way from the U.S. to the Russian front. Its unrelenting durability won it the lifetime support of servicemen. Hundreds of thousands of Jeeps were left around the world at the end of the war, building an international following.

Bantam Reconnaissance Car (Source: Wikipedia)

We’re Onto Something Here

Willy-Overland kept making the Jeep after the war as the “CJ” (Civilian Jeep). Only slight changes were made to the CJ over the next 40 years. Jeep was by then owned by Chrysler, which changed the name from the CJ to the Wrangler, but most things stayed the same. A new engine from the Jeep Cherokee cane in 1987, and in 2007 a new four-door Wrangler known as the Unlimited was introduced.

1946 Willys CJ2A all original (Wikipedia)

The 1997 TJ Jeep Wrangler series was notable for adding front coil springs, at the time blowing all off-road competitors out of the water.

The 2007 JK was also a leap forward, extending the wheelbase by two inches, improving the shocks, and stiffening the frame. It was around then that electric locking differentials first made their appearance as well.

Evolution Not Revolution

In 2018, another iteration of the Wrangler was born, and again it has been an evolution of the original design rather than a re-write. Also known as the JL, this version introduces some much-needed changes without losing the Jeep Wrangler essence.

For example, the older tops on Wranglers were a pain to deal with, owing to the endless zippers that needed to return when you wanted to put the top back up. The latest Jeep Wrangler has three roof options from which to choose from, including a button-operated power soft top that can be used even when you are traveling at up to 60 miles per hour.

The Sahara and Rubicon trims of the Jeep Wrangler now have an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Uconnect, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, and a backup camera. Additional USB ports have been added throughout the cabin.

Instead of just the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, additional powertrains are now available or will be seen. These are a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V6 engine. These are notable because they’ll increase fuel economy, something that the Jeep has had a bad rap for in the past.

The latest Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is impressive for its longer wheelbase making highway driving smoother. You get all the advantages of front and rear locking differentials, a modern transfer case, and a modern engine.

Endless Appeal

While other vehicles have evolved, updated, and mostly gone the way of the Dodo, the appeal of the Jeep Wrangler has endured. This may be because of the Jeep Wrangler’s ability to go anywhere and do anything. It’s a sense of freedom you don’t get with any other vehicle. It gives you the confidence to take on journeys you wouldn’t dream of in a less reliable and less capable SUV. With decades of proven robustness, you can always count on your Jeep.

When the weather is great and the top is down, it’s like driving a vacation. When the weather turns nasty, your Jeep keeps you hugging the road better than any other vehicle around you.

Jeeps are also known for being perfect for modifying. It’s rare to see an older Jeep on the road that hasn’t been modified from its showroom setup. This is partly because of the ease of modifying the comparatively simple Jeep Wrangler, and partly because of the huge aftermarket support that has sprung up around the world.

The Jeep Wrangler Wants to Go Off-Road

Go anywhere in the United States and you’ll find a Jeep club. These clubs are there to offer continued access to great off-road trails to take your Jeep. Events such as the Jeep Jamboree see over 7,000 Jeep Wrangler owners take on challenging terrain outside of their usual comfort zone.

The solid front axle to this day keeps the Jeep Wrangler ahead of all newcomers. It may drive up the price of the Jeep, but it’s perhaps the most important reason behind the Wrangler’s off-road domination. The short wheelbase is also a contributing factor, which is something that SUVs with large beds can’t compete with.

Check out the incredible approach angle, breakover angle, and departure angle the Wrangler can handle compared to others in its class and you’ll see another reason the Jeep Wrangler is king. The bread-and-butter Jeep Wrangler has never compromised on off-road abilities to try to appeal to a different set of buyers even as trends changed. The Jeep Wrangler can, therefore, get in and out of places that other vehicles simply can’t.

The 75-year love affair with the Jeep Wrangler is therefore justified. It’s the ultimate off-road weapon of choice, and likely will be for the next 75 years.

This article is presented by Landmark Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram who are full-service Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram dealership that offer the most up-to-date inventory of new and used vehicles from these top auto manufacturers.

No more articles