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The I-phone of off-road vehicles by Nelly Bell fan, Long Beach CA. on 08/23/2010. Trim: 2005 Jeep Wrangler X, Owned 5 years.
Pros: Unique timeless styling (very popular with the ladies), towability (RV dinghy), tremendous fun factor, amazing duribility and climbing capablities, endless aftermarket options (this is the I-phone of vehicles). I have owned this vehicle since it's birth and have never taken it to the dealer for any mechanical issues - ever. I did have to replace a AC / Heater motor but I run one or the other at all times and this was a very recent occurance. This is my 3rd jeep dating back from my 1978 CJ-7.
Cons: With a 6 speed manual, I expected a bit better milage (I get about 15 mph - period!) but the utility of the vehicle more than makes up for that. It is a little twitchy at high speed and should be treated carefully under those conditions (it was designed as an off road vehicle that can be used on the street not a race car that can be taken off road) and the brakes are not those of a Corvette (nor should they be if you know anything about off roading). Work with the soft canvas top when it's warm for easier manipulation going up or down. It's like a potato chip bag when it's cold! A small V-8 option would sell well. I miss My 78 Quadra-Trac w/304, it was a real kick in the pants.
Overall review: I will always own a jeep as long as I can drive. It has provided endless fun and I have seen stands of redwoods in Seqouia that nobody EVER sees. I have pulled my "Nelly Bell" behind my RV for 5 years with no issue and it's one of the easiest to hook up with no restrictions. This is a tight, mechanically sound vehicle that will provide many years of trouble free use. I can say this because I have owned three jeeps and none have disappointed. On that note, lose the stock tires, they have always stunk (all have been Goodyears AT Trackers). Buy a good set of tires that are off road rated. Stick with the soft top and use the $1000 difference for some cool accessories. You can't be very spontaneaous with a hard top and it spends most of it's time on your garage floor taking up valuable junk or toy space. Buy one, take the roads less traveled, and have a picnic basket lunch where most can't, and above all have a Great time with a special vehicle - Your jeep!
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