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April 2011 4Word Editorial

Posted in Features on April 1, 2011
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We need your vehicle! We're bringing back our Trail Rigs section, but changing the name to Readers' Rigs. It's easy to get your 4x4 featured in this section. Send a JPEG photo of your vehicle, along with a list of modifications you've made and a description of why you built it and what you do with it, to kevin.blumer@sorc.com. You and your 4x4 will soon be famous.

When shooting the photo, it's important to have proper lighting. Your vehicle won't be in the magazine if it can't be seen in the photo. Make sure the sun is shining on the 4x4 you're shooting, NOT behind it (backlighting). A good rule to remember is to have the sun behind, or obliquely behind you when shooting - but watch that your shadow doesn't get in the photo. Please send photos 1MB or larger.

Let's change the subject. While driving from California to Moab in my brand new 1997 TJ Wrangler, I remember thinking, this is so nice! Jeeps were never known for their creature comforts, or any comfort for that matter. The CJ's simplicity is compelling, but not comfortable and the YJ featured some failed, feeble attempts at a civilized interior. The TJ raised the bar. Wrangler owners could now drive cross-country on freeways to trails in another state or province and be comfortable!

In late 2006, the JK Wrangler brought us another new interior. Yes, there was a driver's side dash rattle that plagued almost every vehicle and people complained that the materials used were cheap, including plastics that easily scratched and the worst seat fabric ever used, but overall the JK brought the Jeep utility vehicle into the 21st Century. Some glaring oversights, such as no armrests on doors or center consoles, were addressed by the aftermarket.

The 2011 JK Wrangler sports a completely redesigned interior. "Purists" cry foul and say the interior is now too nice. What? People complain about interior quality and Jeep listens, then those same people don't like it? Most of the complainers who say that the new Jeep interior takes the Wrangler too far from its roots have never owned, or have ever driven a CJ, so they shouldn't be talking about Jeep roots. If you're one who drives to the trail in your 4x4, you learn to appreciate comfort, and the 2011 Wrangler delivers.

Plastics and fabrics are much better than ever before. Leather is higher quality than earlier leather, too. I hope you're not one of those who condemn leather in a Jeep. It cleans up easily and works great on cows that are usually in the dirt. The new JK interior has 12-volt power points throughout the Jeep, including in the back. We can now plug our fridge freezers in without running power cords to the dash. The 2011 JK also has a small inverter and gives us one 115-volt plug in the center console.

I thought the automatic temperature control for the HVAC system was a bit much in a utility vehicle, but now, after using it, I've changed my mind. Set the temperature in the new Wrangler and forget it. Occupants are comfortable whether it's hot, cold, wet, or dry outside. Comfort is also augmented with real padded armrests on the new door panels and center console. A new hardtop, sourced from Bestop, features larger side and rear windows on both the two-door and Unlimited models for better visibility.

We've been talking about the 2011 Wrangler interior. New paint colors for the Wrangler's exterior are an improvement, too. Sahara Tan, Pure White, and Cosmos Blue are all non-metallic colors that look great. Metallic paints are hard to match and JK Wranglers are extremely competent vehicles that can get into places where body damage happens.

Naysayers, be silent. The 2011 Wrangler is 100-percent Jeep and continues Jeep's heritage of capable toughness. It just does it comfortably now.

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