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.
Short's Brewing Company celebrates 10 years
The crew at Short’s Brewing Company knows how to tap its creative resources. “Anybody who has an idea can present it to our brewmaster Tony Hansen,” Short’s Brewing Company founder Joe Short said.Continued ...
Uncertainty only thing certain about grape crop
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Chateau Chantal's second label on hold
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Business Memoranda: 04/23/2014
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Glenn Puit: Right Brain owner had a vision
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Business in Brief: 04/23/2014
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Buckley mainstay has new owners
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Martial arts master gives back
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Painting by Paul turns 30
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- Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Nonprofit's Detroit farm work moves ahead
A nonprofit’s plans to create agriculture projects in Detroit neighborhoods are moving forward.Continued ...
Business in Brief: 04/22/2014
Gas prices up 2 cents over the past week; UAW withdraws appeal of VW union vote.Continued ...
- Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Dennis Prout: MyRA makes sense for some
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- Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Agriculture Forum: Saying it doesn't mean they got it!
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- Friday, April 18, 2014
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- Thursday, April 17, 2014
Detroit launches grants for small biz
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Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines
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- Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Zakey owner celebrates six years in business
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Glenn Puit: Making work, and money, at 68
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- Short's Brewing Company celebrates 10 years