Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Jeep Wrangler is One of the Last True 4x4s

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and Land Rover Defender 110
Overland Journal's website Expedition Portal has an article written by a staff member regarding his frustration with not being able to purchase his dream 4x4 in the United States anymore - the Land Rover Defender.  He tells the story of how he has "settled" for the technically superior Wrangler in spite of his passion for the Land Rover's character because of Land Rover's misguided decision not to offer Americans their halo truck.

Although I am obviously a big fan of the Jeep Wrangler JK, I can feel his pain since I am a former Suzuki and Toyota fanatic.  I made my move to the Jeep world after Suzuki stopped offering the Samurai/Jimny and Toyota stopped offering their solid-axle-equipped Land Cruisers and 4Runner in the United States.  The rest of the world still gets these tough, durable, and capable offroad machines, while the United States gets diluted, homogenized, effeminate mallcrawler replacements with independent suspension and little-to-no offroad pretense.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and Land Rover Defender 110
The Wrangler Unlimited is essentially the last holdout in America for anyone who wants a true offroad 4x4.  The Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen is the only alternative to the Wrangler about which I've already written, but I can expand on Expedition Portal's article by pointing out that Americans are also denied Toyota's 70-Series Land Cruiser and the Iveco Massif.

Toyota 70-series Land Cruiser and Jeep Wrangler JK
Jeep Wrangler, Iveco Massif, Land Rover Defender
Since 1941, Jeep has been the inspiration for many 4x4s because it was the first to combine many features into one winning formula.  In most of the world, the Jeep Wrangler is just one of several hardcore 4x4s available to consumers.  To earn the respect and trust of the true offroad enthusiasts, a utilitarian body-on-frame 4x4 with a two-speed transfer case and heavy-duty solid axles front and rear are absolute requirements.  The United States used to have a large number of offroad SUVs, including not only the above-mentioned Land Cruisers, 4Runner, Defender, G-Wagen and Samurai, but also the Cherokee, Blazer, Range Rover, Travelall, Excursion, Ramcharger, Bronco, Scout, Jimmy, Wagoneer, Discovery, Suburban, Patrol, and TrailDuster, all of which met those basic requirements.  Today, they have all either been turned into dressed-up "soccer mom" tall wagons (a.k.a. "Crossovers") or are no longer even offered here.

A healthy respect for tough 4x4s is great no matter what make and model you prefer.  The fact that only Jeep and Mercedes have the wherewithal to still offer true offroad 4x4s in America today makes them real standouts in a sea of faux-by-fours.  Like the Expedition Portal journalist, I can't help but wish that the Defender was still available in America.  But even if I could get one here, I'd still prefer the Jeep.

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