Reflections after 5,000 miles and a month & a half of ownership.. Well, I figured I have yet to actually post in the regular Jeep forum so now would be as good of time as any
. As an avid Toyota owner and wheeler prior to the last month, I have always been better at making fun of Jeeps rather than wheeling with them. All that aside, I’ve learned in the last month why so many make the jump.
For reference sake my previous trucks include two 1985 Toyota 4Runners (only year of EFI and solid front axle) and a solid axle swapped 1992 mini-truck truggy. Each of these trucks were amazing in their own right and had some MAJOR flaws (birfields.. need I say more
) that really in the end, added character. The runners were amazing with the removable tops and the junkyard crowd support. I took the back springs from a newer Chevy ½ ton and threw them under the runner and the rear springs from a Mazda pickup and put them under the front. All junkyard parts and they were easy to come by.
Until purchasing my own JK I was completely oblivious to the nuances that make Wranglers such fun offroaders. I went to the dealership a month ago just to see what they would give me for my 06 Chevy ½ ton (daily driver) and to poke around a Jeep since I’d never seen one that wasn’t covered in mud and because I think every boy has a childhood fantasy of owning a Jeep and driving around without the top and doors on. Looking around the lot I saw both 2010s and 2011s. Nothing was really standing out at me other than a 2011 Unlimited Mango Tango Rubicon that was stickered at 39k
. As I went for a walk into the showroom to look for something a little more basic and fitting of my needs we passed a 2010 Rescue Green “Mountain Edition” stickered for 30k. I liked that it already had 32s on it and actually liked the sticker package (less the bright orange ‘MOUNTAIN’ on the hood). The wheels are painted and clear-coated so they are easy to clean and the blackout sticker on the hood will be useful when I actually get some windshield lights (that’s what they’re designed for, to reduce glare off the shiny hood.. Land Rover guys have used them for years (yeah I did the Rover thing for a short time too.).) Rescue Green is my absolute favorite color and the dealer told me it would no longer be offered in 2011. I took one more spin around the parking lot and saw a 2011 in a great desert sand color, but after looking at the interior I was concerned about the new softer material on the dash and how it would hold up if I got caught in a rainstorm without the top. I was also a little worried about the decrease of the already miniscule visibility out the front windshield. I ended up working a deal on the Mountain edition, obviously, and from the day I took it home and pulled the doors and roof off I knew this would be a different kind of fun for me. Here are just a few one liners of things I’ve observed as a new Jeep guy in love with his JK:
-I find it amusing they call it a ‘freedom top’ when the reality is it’s anything but.. It weighs a metric butt-ton and takes a small Army to carry into the garage where it encroaches on the ‘freedom’ of my wife’s Hyundai Genesis.
-Would it have really cost that much more money to coat the underside of the ‘freedom top’ in something so it wouldn’t scratch every time you touch it?
-I love the base speaker option for the Jeep. I always feel like im standing in a long hallway with the cavernous sound that comes out of those wretched things.
-Chrysler I have a question for you.. How is it that a company that is most notably known for making spacers and body lifts can come up with a plastic panel that allows you to actually put your sunglasses and cell phone somewhere other than your passenger’s lap and your engineers couldn’t figure it out first??? All this and only $20, thanks Daystar!
-Curse you Tera-Flex and your magically disappearing zerk fittings!! No, seriously, I’ve never owned a leveling/lift kit that ate grease fittings before. Now I have to go find 3 new fittings to get the squeaky toy noise out from under my Jeep. For the record, I don't believe this is a common issue with Tera-Flex products, just my Jeep is hungry for Zerks..
-Bestop.. I know some people swear by the Trek-top, but those people are only looking at the slant back portion because the top of that thing is poorly engineered and hideous looking. I found myself looking towards the tailgate every morning I climbed in just so I didn’t look at the awkwardly fitting rain gutters and top that balloons up under pressure.
-If you crawl under your Jeep between the front and rear doors and look up you will see a huge vacant area next to the fabled evap canister (won’t even get started on that one) that looks about the size of a muffler.. Yeah it’s amazing but a muffler works great there with no modification and is safely tucked up above the frame rails!
-It must be a Jeep thing, but I get more attention with this thing than I ever did with any other truck. One of my co-worker’s kids actually nicknamed my Jeep for me already.. King Koopa. I loved it because she’s only 4 and had been playing Mario brothers on Wii. Just gotta get a small sticker of King Koopa now.
-JKs look better with a winch in the factory bumper, but im not so sure just how long that bumper will last with a winch! Need to start saving for the BFH!
-The Jeep wave.. Yeah I screwed that up the first week I owned my Jeep. They didn’t put anything about it in the owner’s manual and it took my wife smacking me every time a Jeep passed to actually get me conditioned to wave.
In the end, with all its quirks, this Jeep still puts a smile on my face every day on my way to and from work. Its loud, harsh, plasticky, slow, and parts of it aren’t well thought out, but it’s still got a removable top that I can take off just part in a matter of minutes, drain holes with easily removable carpet, plasticky interior that wipes down easily after getting wet or dirty, great 4wheeling prowess, incredible aftermarket support (quick shout out to W&S Offroad), wonderful owners, comfortable seats, logical gauge and button placement, good steering and brakes, well thought out undercarriage and stock skidplating (evap and muffler aside) and an unmistakable look that is all Jeep. Stock out of the box this thing was a blast at Jeeptoberfest and Im sure will be more fun the longer I own it.