Too many of today's cars feel exactly the same.
If you're looking at a new crossover vehicle or mid-size sedan, nearly every one is a slightly different flavor of vanilla. They've all got good brakes, good steering and a good suspension. They're all quiet and relatively smooth riding.
Differences between them are so subtle, it's easy to accuse the auto manufacturers of playing a giant, expensive game of copycat.
Then you drive a Jeep Wrangler and realize just how different a vehicle can be.
The Wrangler is an anachronism, the kind of car that has all but died off as buyers focus on comfort and fuel economy — two things the Wrangler simply doesn't exist to do.
But thank God it's still around.
This is the original Jeep, the one with roots dating back to World War II, and you can feel it all the time. It's like driving a tent on roller skates. There's simply nothing else like it, as anyone who's driven a Jeep knows.
It's become even more of a loner now that the Hummer brand has disappeared, leaving it virtually deserted as the only affordable vehicle that's engineered specifically for off-road driving. Other cars may have boxy bodies and all-wheel drive, but a 4x4 Jeep is the real thing — the one vehicle that's actually meant to spend all day pounding the trails, not just looking the part.
That means it comes with tradeoffs, of course, as it sacrifices comfort at the altar of off-road performance. It's bouncy and rough riding, and also one of the noisiest vehicles at highway speed.
At the same time, it's come a long way in terms of livability in just a few short years. It's still largely a toy, something designed for fun on the weekends — and making you smile throughout the week — but it's also quieter and more modern than it used to be.
The 2013 Wrangler, for instance, comes with thicker, premium cloth material for the soft top that does a better job sealing out wind and road noise. It also comes with new, more comfortable seats and an easy-lift mechanism for helping remove the top.
At its core, though, the Wrangler stays true to the Jeep mission — off-road performance. It's all about tow hooks and roll bars, torque and traction, and it's an absolute blast to drive off the pavement.
To get similar performance in a different car, you've got to pay a whole lot more. Only a few vehicles come close to matching what the Wrangler can do, albeit more luxuriously, including the Range Rover ($83,500), Toyota Land Cruiser ($78,255) and Mercedes-Benz G-Class ($113,000).
Who would actually want to take those expensive cars onto trails, though? You'd have to be both crazy and wealthy to do it.
For those of us who are only slightly crazy and not wealthy, the Jeep Wrangler exists to whet our off-road appetite.
It starts at $22,195 with two doors, or $25,695 for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited.
Too many of today's cars feel exactly the same.
Downtown retail in high demand
Pleasanton Bakery owner Jonathan St. Hilaire recognizes the value of a downtown Traverse City retail outlet.Continued ...
Sports business nets new owners
Dave and Lin Harvey have seen a lot in their 32 years in the sporting goods business. The owners of Dave Harvey’s Athletic Supply, 901 S. Airport, witnessed hockey rinks in the Traverse City area come and go.Continued ...
Fred Goldenberg: Putting the 'pot' in 'potholes' and other ideas
Michigan legislators are increasingly discussing the prospects of legalizing marijuana in the state for recreational purposes.Continued ...
Cargazing: Soul is still stylin'
If there was an award for the vehicle that offers the most style per dollar, this car — the Kia Soul — would be a top contender.Continued ...
Ag Forum: Homeowners, farmers and stewardship
The Grand Traverse region is renowned for its scenic landscapes framed by breathtaking views of crystal clear bays. These views and the sparkling-clean water bring visitors to this area every year and create a competitive market for waterfront property.Continued ...
Futures File: California drought drives dairy higher
Milk futures are near an all-time high as California suffers through a severe drought that is threatening dairy production.Continued ...
- Friday, March 7, 2014
Passengers wrongly told TC airport was ‘closed’
Len Price and his family just wanted to get home. The Traverse City resident, 72, his wife, Linda, and son Logan were headed home from a Montana skiing vacation March 1 when weather caused long delays to their United Airlines flight.Continued ...
Building Permits: 03/07/2014
Building permits issued in Grand Traverse County:Continued ...
The Record: 03/07/2014
Assumed names issued in Grand Traverse County:Continued ...
- Thursday, March 6, 2014
Aviation agreement takes off
Will Bennett doesn’t want to spend his future saddled to a desk from 9-to-5 every day. It’s one reason he’s training to be a pilot in Northwestern Michigan College’s Aviation Program.Continued ...
Cadillac manufacturer to make pallets
A northern Michigan business will benefit from a $133 million contract with the United States Air Force.Continued ...
Corps of Engineers to dredge Leland harbor
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will spend $25 million on navigation projects in the Great Lakes, including dredging of harbors choked with silt because of low water levels.Continued ...
- Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Rare Bird Brewpub readies for flight
Nate Crane and Tina Schuett spent nearly two years chasing their dream of opening a brew pub in the midst of Traverse City’s craft beer boom.Continued ...
Brewery boom 'capitalism at its best'
Northern Michigan’s flood of brewer-entrepreneurs is prompting some business experts to wonder when the next batch of beer is just too much suds.Continued ...
Glenn Puit: Welcome to our new section, the Biz
Business matters. That’s the driving philosophy behind our new business section, The Biz, which the Record-Eagle launched this morning.Continued ...
Events North enjoys upward climb
Allison Beers lost her job six years ago when the Great Recession hit. It turned out to be a good thing.Continued ...
Business crowdfunds for support
Charlie McDaniel sees every donation as one more person who believes in his business. “If people want a natural foods store in Frankfort, they need to support it,” McDaniel said.Continued ...
Laura Galbraith: Demand for development resources high
One of the eye-opening experiences from the distribution of funds from the dissolution of the Leelanau County Economic Development Corp. was the overwhelming response from Leelanau-based businesses.Continued ...
Business Memoranda: 03/05/2014
The Bank of Northern Michigan announced three promotions and two new hires for their Traverse City office:Continued ...
BIZ in Brief: 03/05/2014
Garfield considers development project; Magna planning expansion; Dealership helps employee. (Plus more)Continued ...
Cherry Capital Foods wins small business award
Cherry Capital Foods gained an edge in winning a regional business award thanks to a staff that rallies around a fundamental mission, one of its leaders said.Continued ...
Guidelines for Record-Eagle business coverage
We realize how important media coverage of a business can be and we are greatly expanding our business coverage at the Record-Eagle. We try to establish a level playing field for everyone and the best way to do that is to work within a set of guidelines.Continued ...
- Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Carry-on crackdown: United enforces bag size limit
United Airlines is getting tough on passengers with oversized carry-on bags.Continued ...
- Sunday, March 2, 2014
Some Front Street businesses rise above it all
Corbin Design employees see their hard work pay off when they peer out their third-floor office windows in downtown Traverse City.Continued ...
Paid parking may increase
Paid parking hours may increase in downtown Traverse City’s Larry C. Hardy Parking Deck.Continued ...
- Downtown retail in high demand