The 2014 Jeep Wrangler is a no-nonsense vehicle that's at its best when the pavement ends. This classic SUV will climb over rocks, cross streams and frolic in the sand dunes whenever you please, thanks to its standard four-wheel drive and high ground clearance. Just don't expect too many comforts along the way. Although the current Jeep Wrangler is the most civilized version ever, it's still noisy, rough-riding and nothing at all like the compact and midsize crossover SUVs that dominate this price range. However, if your weekend plans include off-roading, this Jeep is arguably the most capable utility vehicle you can buy.
It's also among the most versatile. Not only can you choose a Wrangler with two or four doors, you can remove the roof, doors and even the windshield if the mood strikes (and you have the right tools). Although, in practice, you probably won't care to drive the Wrangler for sustained periods of time without these components. We'd recommend the soft top over the (heavy) hardtop if you plan to drive your Wrangle al fresco on a regular basis, but keep in mind that it makes your Jeep more vulnerable to thieves and still requires considerable time and patience to remove and reinstall. Whether you see this as one of the Wrangler's quaint charms or an unnecessary hassle largely depends on your expectations.
Of course, some of the Wrangler's issues can't be brushed off as easily. Braking distances are long, and handling on paved roads is far less steady and refined than other SUVs you might be considering. Still, there's unexpected fun to be had in driving a Jeep Wrangler around town, as its short wheelbase makes it blissfully easy to maneuver in tight spaces if you don't mind the slow steering. The V6 engine provides sufficient power, too, and if you don't find what you're looking for on the factory options list, the Wrangler enjoys massive aftermarket parts availability from both Chrysler's in-house supplier Mopar and hundreds of independent companies.
If the Jeep Wrangler's rugged image and off-road capabilities appeal to you, we'd recommend a lengthy test-drive. It's not uncommon for shoppers to be drawn in by the Wrangler's cool factor only to realize soon after they've purchased one that a compact crossover or a more livable off-roader like the Nissan Xterra or Toyota FJ Cruiser would have been a better choice for driving to work every day. If you know what you're getting into, though, the 2014 Jeep Wrangler is a wonderful way to get back to basics and back to nature.