The Jeep Wrangler was crowned “hottest 4×4 of the year” for the fourth time at this year’s SEMA show.
That shouldn’t surprise anyone, seeing as it pretty much has the “hot 4×4″ category all to itself. With the demise of the FJ Cruiser, the Wrangler is the only customizable off-road play-oriented new vehicle you can buy.
A case could be made for the Ford Raptor, but the price on those effectively puts them out of reach for most modification-oriented enthusiasts. Ten times the same goes for the AMG G-Wagen 6X6, obviously. A Polaris RZR might be a competitor as well, but since it can’t do duty as a daily driver outside West Virginia it doesn’t count either.
What will the future hold for those of us who hope to be able to build a good overlander in twenty years time? Every series Land Rover will have returned to the Earth and an FJ40 will probably be around $150,000.
Point is, take care of the 4×4 stock we have left. It’s important to keep as many Samurais, CJ-7’s, Scouts, Rovers, and their ilk alive because we certainly aren’t getting anything like them from manufacturers now.
The 2014 Jeep Wrangler may have some of the modernities we purists frown upon, but it’s hung on to so many great features I can’t help but respect it.
It’s got round headlights
The doors come off.
And sure, the windshield is now attached with bolts and takes and age to remove, but it still comes down damnit. I’ve wanted nothing more than to drive around sans-windshield with goggles on my eyes and a bandanna over my mouth like some kind of crazed road warrior.
Thanks to Jeep, I don’t have to count on the supply of used vehicles staying strong to fulfill that dream. Let’s hope the Wrangler stays true to it’s roots for a good long time.
With the recent announcement of the “Willys Wheeler Edition“, featuring a Dana 44 limited-slip rear axle, 3.37 gears, and a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, it looks like the Wrangler will remain king of modern consumer off-roaders for the time being.