ESP itself is pretty awesome and can do things you don't even have the controls for. The ESP can brake just one wheel at a time to control yaw. You can't do that.
People are confusing "ESP-electronic stability program" with "Traction control". They are separate functions.
The traction control is used to operate the "brake lock differential" functions.
Has nothing to do with ESP.
I taught performance driving for many years and am really impressed with the ESP. If you hold a drift out with the steering angle matching what the computer expects to see with wheel speed and the yaw/rotation sensors it will let you do it. Meaning, that if "you have control of the drift" the ESP actually lets you do it all you want. Once the parameters fail to match, it takes back over.
I can understand the feature and won't argue that it can do things that I can't. I will however argue that I find myself to be much more capable of controlling the vehicle than the ECU is, and I'd much prefer to decide myself when brakes should be applied and engine power should be cut.
I work in rally racing, so I enjoy my sideways fun more than the average guy. I can confidently say that if my WJ had Traction Control/ESP and acted like the JK's do, then it'd be me in the ravines and ditches instead of the race teams.
When you try to just leisurely drive around a looped freeway ramp at a more than reasonable speed and it starts randomly cutting engine power and grabbing brakes one corner at a time, nearly running you off the road, then its nothing more than a tedious problem. I've had 4 JK's now, all with perfectly centered steering wheels and some with recalibrated speedo's and they've all done it.
The difference there is of course they've all had 35" and larger tires and I just don't think that system works well under those conditions, and with those tire sizes being very common on these Jeeps, it ought to.
When I step on the throttle, I'm doing it for a reason...I don't want some computer deciding for me if it should actually do what I tell it to do. I can understand its usefulness for other people.