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Cars in the City

Jeep Wrangler offers an exhilarating ride

4/3/2024

Whenever I see a Jeep, it screams adventure. That rugged look and jacked-up body seem ideal for off-road trips. Maybe it’s from the TV commercials of a Jeep perched on a faux boulder. Regardless, when you take it for a spin, you’re bound to experience an exhilarating ride — even in Iowa.

Jeep lovers agree. More than 5 million Jeeps have been sold since the Wrangler debuted in 1986. According to the Jeep website, 80% of those are still on the road today, signifying staying power.

Jeeps come in more than a half a dozen models and trims, including the Sport, Sahara and special edition Willys. Since my favorite color red wasn’t available for a drive, I settled on a gray Jeep Wrangler 4×4 Rubicon. The 2024 model base was $51,295; with all the extras, this model rang in at $62,970. It gets about 17-20 mpg city and highway.

The Jeep is fairly easy to climb into. As the cabin seems a bit narrow, I didn’t feel engulfed by a huge dashboard. It felt just right, as Goldilocks might say.

It was a warm March day, and I wanted to take the top off to experience open air. It’s fairly easy to do, by lifting the front and side latches and simply taking it off. The doors can be taken off for even more open air — or install the soft side top, located in the trunk.

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Where the Jeep shines is its off-roading capabilities. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of bumpy dirt trails that the salesman could point me to — just paved roads with rumble strips and potholes.

The Tru-Lock feature on both the front and rear axles mean the wheels lock together, which improves handling on uneven terrain, on speeds less than 10 mph. The hill-start assist and hill-descent control helps by holding brakes longer when on an incline. The Rubicon name comes from a hilly trail — the Rubicon Trail in California.

Corning Gorilla Glass makes a sturdy windshield to withstand rock chips. Unlike some vehicles, there is not a lot of knobs inside that might get caught as you’re tussling about. The polished black aluminum wheels add a nice touch with no hubcaps to potentially fall off.

Ironically, my yoga instructor, who owns a Jeep, mentioned how another Jeep owner made her day after she found a duck on her Jeep window. A duck? You mean one smashed into the windshield?

Turns out it was a small rubber duck. According to the Jeep website, a woman named Allison Parliament had a bad day and placed a yellow duck on a Jeep just like hers. Since then, “Jeep ducking” is known as an act of kindness.

It’s also referred to as “Duck, Duck, Jeep,” with the goal all about appreciating another Jeep owner’s model. Ducks in any color, with logos, appear on tops of rearview mirrors, bumpers, windshields and more. Some folks deposit fancy, bejeweled rubber ducks. And before you know it, there’s a duck pond, filling the dashboard of a Jeep.

What other vehicle traditions offer this much fun? Makes me almost want to buy a Jeep just to score a random cute duck.

Ducks aside, the Jeep is the vehicle to buy for off-roading, even if it’s down a bumpy gravel driveway. ♦

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