2014 Jeep Wrangler Test Drive

In A Nutshell

In my years as an educator I had many opportunities to engage with rebellious teens. It was one aspect of the job I actually relished. I guess I have a soft spot for rebels. Always have. They are feisty, unconventional, and always keep you on your toes. Driving a Jeep Wrangler, for some quirky reason, reminds me of these times and definitely puts a smile on my face. Have you ever had the urge to leave civilized urban streets behind and have a little fun gamboling about in the wild? If not, just jump into one of these open-air chariots and see where your spirit takes you!

Inside Out

It was with great anticipation that I climbed into the pristine, white 4-door Sahara and headed out for the first time. Right from the get-go I could tell that this driving experience would be like none other. Like that rebellious child, the Jeep seemed to have a will of its own and I knew that once I tamed it, I would be rewarded with a true wind-in-your-hair, no holds barred experience. I took the long way home and picked a hilly, winding route and loved every moment of the drive. While the steering is precise, the leeway you get in the Wrangler gives you the distinct impression this vehicle is made to roll over sand dunes or uneven terrain, and not in a bone jarring way either, but in comfort and style. Approaching my driveway I was almost disappointed that my drive was over for the moment, but I knew I'd find an excuse soon enough to get out again.

Urban Jungle

My wife and I needed to find some replacement slipcovers for some LPs (big CDs for those of you really young readers out there) that had sustained some water damage recently and a friend of ours gave us the name of shop deep in the downtown core. I plugged the address into the navigation search bar and we headed out. As we drove my wife played around with the sleek UConnect 430 infotainment system. This system is rated as the most user-friendly infotainment system in the automobile world - and I can see why! The menus (many of them icon based) are easy to read and even easier to manipulate. My wife found the 'Load' button and the screen neatly folded out to reveal a CD/DVD slot. She threw in a Reba McIntyre CD and we listened to a number of the tracks, the sound from the 7-speaker Alpine Premium Sound System (368-watt amplifier with eight-inch subwoofer) filling the cabin. She found the equalizer and adjusted the bass and treble controls and played around with the speaker orientation options (sound can be centered in several different spots in the cabin depending on preferences and how many people are in the vehicle).

After a brief stop at the Record store we headed west through the downtown quarter and into the suburbs. As the speed limit increased it was interesting to note how smooth the 5-speed automatic transmission was and how quickly the vehicle got up to speed. The award-winning Pentastar 3.6L VVT V6 powertrain (delivering best-in-class 285 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque) ensured that this was going to be one smooth drive?and it was!

Our errands completed, we headed home to get ready to go out with some friends. We had spent the better part of the afternoon in the Wrangler sitting comfortably in the heated Sahara-branded leather-faced seats and enjoying the rather unusual combination of luxurious features and outdoorsy, rugged components that define the interior of the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Sahara.

Retro door-strap hinges mean that the doors swing about freely when opening and closing them unlike most urban-rooted vehicles and these take a little getting used to. Our friends commented on this on the way to dinner. They also commented on the generous legroom (and headroom - even with the hard top on) and on how smoothly the vehicle rolled over rough road patches and potholes. My friend in the front seat beside me admired the iconic Jeep badging "Jeep since 1941" and it got us reminiscing about Jeeps in the past and funnily enough, the old TV series "Rat Patrol" which had been a favorite of both of ours.

The Wrangler presents many open-air possibilities. You can easily remove one or more of the three hardtop panels for true wind in your hair action or you can put up the soft top and have some protection from the mid-day sun. Lots of versatility! I got a chance to try this out when the weather improved the following day and I could only wish that I had the vehicle for a few more days when the mercury was really geared to rise. Oh well!

Another One for the Books

Many years ago on a trip to the Middle East I was a rear passenger in an army vintage Jeep. If you can picture one of these brutes (think M*A*S*H) you will know how bumpy and uncomfortable the ride was. As a young man I relished the experience but I'm not sure I would want to repeat it now.The 2014 Jeep Wrangler Sahara still offers a thrilling ride, but now, instead of a hard metal bench you're riding in leather-encased comfort and surrounded by unbelievable technology. I think this summer I'll rent one and head to the high-country for a week or so?can't wait to get in one of these again!