Thursday, June 1, 2023

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Cars in the City

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon


The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, $60,110 (base $43,875) 19 mpg city; 22 highway.

I yearn for an adventure and an exhilarating ride, something unlike my four-door sedan. One vehicle immediately comes to mind: a Jeep.
The Jeep conjures up off-road excitement. Imagine exploring an African safari, with an open top, bounding along dirt trails with mud plastered on the front grill, surrounded by majestic wildlife.

Ah, but this is Iowa, and my test drive only ventured to Dallas County where paved roads with a few speed bumps kept me securely in the driver’s seat.

As I approached Stew Hansen’s sales director, he asked me which model I wanted to drive. I wanted a “Jeep” Jeep, the type that the top comes off. Come to find out, there are 21 different models of open-air Jeeps. I chose the Gladiator Rubicon, which includes nine different models.

The 2020 Gladiator Rubicon is a Jeep pickup, as it has a pickup box. The Rubicon was first introduced in 2003, named after the Rubicon Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Gladiator was originally made from 1962-1988 for the Jeep Wagoneer.

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The Jeep name goes back even further. The Jeep debuted in 1940 and was created for the U.S. Army. The Jeep name comes from General or Government Purpose, shortened to GP. The GP was slurred to sound like Jeep.

Jeeps are known for all-terrain, open-air travel. They are small enough to get in tight spaces, rugged enough for all types of roads and light enough to be transported on ships for Army use.

The Rubicon can tow up to 7,000 pounds. That means a little Jeep can tow your pontoon boat, with a few cases of beer thrown in. The all-terrain tires can travel over crushed gravel, rocky roads and uneven terrain, plus they have the traction to conquer steep hills.

Most of the Jeep’s tops and doors can be removed easily, which is why some models still have manual hand cranks to open windows. The removable top can be stored in the storage bag. Since there’s no traditional trunk, under-seat storage holds all your stuff.

The rest of the interior is solid. There are no knobs that might get caught as you’re tussling about. Grab bars and cushioning over metal surfaces provide safety as backseat passengers bounce around. The polished black aluminum wheels add a nice touch with no hubcaps to potentially fall off.

A rear-sliding window opens to the back truck bed. The all-wheel drive and drivetrain have both locking front and rear differential, which locks wheels together and lets users drive in mud, gravel, snow or difficult surfaces. The sway bar disconnect means the front wheels move up and down independently, allowing for greater movement on uneven terrain.

If the temperature wasn’t a chilly 15 degrees, I’d have the top down, enjoying the wind in my hair and tumbling through a few ditches. But a girl can still dream about off-roading adventures, even if it’s a simple Iowa cow pasture or a bank of snow. ♦

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Summer Stir (June 2023)