Those who seriously believe, a Jeep is simply a car that can be used for off-roading, is making a big mistake. Buying oneself a Jeep is more like a life's-goal or at least an intensive hobby. It all starts with the actual buying. There are of course, various engines available and the choice between manual- and automatic transmission, indeed this point can be ticked off quickly.
The choice of bodywork is more complex, either hard- or soft-top or even both and either half-doors or full-size with real wind-down windows. If you order both, you'll need almost half a day, a good instruction manual and a strong helping hand to carry out the changeover from hard- to soft-top properly.
The reason for this, is the upholstered frame construction, over which the soft-top must be pulled and then fastened with various Velcro strips and zippers. In a slightly milder form, this is what you'll be doing when changing the Jeep to a near-convertible. The workmanship is good, and as far as we can make out, it's also pretty watertight.
The long development period is obvious. Some things have been taken out of the series only to be re-introduced again later on. Take e.g. the outdated six-cylinder engine with a cast-iron cylinder head. Indeed, be careful when accusing the manufacturer of using antiquated technology, don't overlook the fact that this is a vehicle designed for special purposes. The fact is, on the motorway, a Jeep with a soft-top is quieter than a G-model Mercedes, which is at least twice as expensive.
By the way, the G-model is, throughout its long life, among all the Mercedes models, the one which has been changed the least. One further aspect: Mercedes could only partially resist the desire to make an exhibition piece out of an established off-road vehicle. Jeep with the Wrangler, has at least stuck to the unpainted add-on fixtures. Which, by no means, says that one can clean out the interior after a strenuous off-road run by using a hose-pipe.
Oh yes, the electronics have also found their way into the Jeep, e.g., the airbags and the ABS. The old simplicity is a thing of the past. At least this model compensates with coil- instead of leaf springs and has a simple lever for four choices placed next to the gear-shift. The car can be driven in two- or four wheel drive mode and one doesn't have to stop the car to make the change over. It is however recommended if for the two next stages, one wishes to select the locking and also the speed-reduction when in off-road passages.
Despite these simplifications, the Jeep remains almost entirely a leisure activity, which is underlined by the possibility of taking part in Jeep-jamborees, also in Europe. This is an expression normally used for boy scout gatherings, indeed, in this case, the whole Jeep family gets together, in the USA since 1953. This is long before the owners of certain makes of car started having meetings in Europe. One thing is certain, if you've ever gone through the safety instructions and the preparations for tilting the windscreen open, you've either become a genuine Jeep fan, or else, you'll never do it again. 05/15