ExPo recently published an article that discusses the fact that the 2007+ Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is the new Land Rover Defender. Heresy? Perhaps not, as author Matthew Scott argues.
|Jeep Wrangler Unlimited|
|Land Rover Defender 110|
Land Rover isn't the only legendary marque that has abandoned its roots: the Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, and Suzuki Samurai all have well-earned reputations in the furthest reaches of the globe. Each of these vehicles has either been discontinued or emasculated with independent suspension and limited off-road durability.
I have always been a huge fan of the Defender, and while I don't think anyone but Land Rover could ever produce a proper replacement for it, it's indisputable that the Wrangler Unlimited has supplanted the Defender as the top choice for overland-style 4wheeling. It's unfortunate that Land Rover doesn't appear to have any interest in continuing the solid-axle, purpose-built Defender, but we are all lucky that Jeep saw it fit to expand the Wrangler's offerings to fill this abandoned niche.
It's no wonder that Jeep's Wrangler sales have continued to climb in spite of rising fuel prices; it is essentially the only vehicle left that can meet the needs of the true off-roaders crowd. Focus groups and political pressure have convinced all other 4x4 manufacturers that offroad-biased SUVs aren't what they should be manufacturing, but consumers have spoken: durable solid-axle 4x4s still serve as strong a need as ever.