When you drive a Wrangler every day, everywhere, you quickly learn the vehicle's strong and weak points. We're not talking about ground clearance issues here; we're talking about seats that are a pain in the butt and several other short-comings in the interior. It's one thing to build the ultimate rock crawler, and it's a totally different challenge to build an off-road worthy Jeep that you can comfortably drive to work Monday through Friday.
We attacked the worst interior offenders and tried some products that promised to set things right. While a couple of items are on the expensive side, we chose items that we thought were the best value. Right after we were finished making all of these changes, we did a 500-mile road trip and were able to take note of what the changes we made really did for us.
These upgrades were made to a JK, but similar products are available for TJs, which have the same shortcomings when it comes to the interior. Many of the same ideas and products can be applied to any model Jeep.
What: Tuffy Security Console
Why: We wanted a safe and hidden place to mount a CB, along with a truly secure place to lock stuff when we leave the Jeep.
Benefits: This is a bolt-in console for the JK that provides twice as much storage, a 12-volt power outlet inside, nice padding on the console lid for arm comfort; it's built from 16-gauge steel with a 1/4-inch thick pry-guard latching system.
Drawbacks: It's about 21/2 inches taller than factory, which may be a comfort issue for smaller drivers.
Overall: This is definitely a step up in storage and functionality, and we really like being able to mount a real CB completely out of sight. Having a place to securely lock valuables in a Wrangler gives us peace of mind.
What: Rugged Ridge Floor Liners
Why: If you live outside of sunny Southern California, you probably drag 10 pounds of mud into your interior every time you go four-wheeling.
Benefits: Deep tread design keeps your shoes above the mud and water, super-deep sides keep the muck on the liner, they are injection molded for a precise fit, and feature self-sealing floor hook attachment to avoid leaks.
Overall: This is a no-brainer: They make the interior look better and clean up easier.
What: Tuffy Security Deck Enclosure
Why: Stuff in the back of a Jeep is in plain sight and easy to five-finger; also an airborne winching block really hurts when it smacks you in the head.
Benefits: Easy to install, keeps stuff hidden, retains ability to use all of the original cargo capacity, panels are made from 16-gauge steel, lid has recessed area to hold additional cargo, includes two large trays that install on either side, comes with weather seals.
Drawbacks: Uses factory tailgate as rear panel so it's not as secure as Tuffy's security drawer.
Overall: Quite a bit less expensive than the security drawer, the deck enclosure is great to keep stuff from flying around inside your Jeep and for giving you extra security while off-roading. There is still space on top for ordinary stuff you might toss in the back of your Jeep.
What: Corbeau LG1 Front Seats
Why: After about 30 minutes, we were shifting all over to try to keep comfy in the factory seats, and when off-roading we were just plain shifting all over as the terrain bounced us around.
Benefits: High-density, injection-molded foam for comfort, side bolsters for lateral support, reclining, slots for harness-style shoulder belts, application-specific seat brackets for easy bolt-in. If you have a two-door Wrangler, Corbeau also offers a matching rear seat.
Drawbacks: Getting in and out is a bit more challenging with the seat side bolsters.
Overall: Don't skimp on seats. The seat swap was one of our most expensive upgrades, but they are the one that we appreciate the most. High-quality, heated seats are the way to go; worth every penny.
What: Daystar Lower Dash Panel and Switches
Why: We've also added some electric gadgets to the Jeep, but didn't want to hack a hole in the dash for switches.
Benefits:You can mount up to four Carlington/ARB high-quality rocker switches where they are easy to see and reach, yet retain the factory look.
Drawbacks: Really big hands might hit the switch panel when shifting the transfer case into 2WD. The manual tranny shifter boot can make contact with the switches.
Overall: Very good use of dead space.
What: Daystar Upper Dash Panel
Why: One of our biggest pet peeves in the JK is the lack of a decent place to put your cell phone and sunglasses.
Benefits: Provides two open bins that keep things in place for on-road driving, 10-minute install, retains factory look.
Drawbacks: Daystar says that a Blackberry might affect the compass sensor which is mounted to the underside of the panel. We have not had this problem.
Overall: One of the most useful and economical upgrades we made. Even though our Curve doesn't fit perfectly in the smaller bin, it stays put.