My fabulous coworker (whose name will be withheld to protect the integrity of her identity) gives me a ride to Mother Proof’s Global Headquarters so I can pick up the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon for my test drive. She’s got this thang (that’s t-h-a-n-g pronounced with a t-w-a-n-g) for Jeeps. She says, “It’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand.” Anyway, all the way to MPGH she’s speculating on whether it’s a two-door or a four-door (it’s a four-door), she reminisces about her childhood Jeep trips and her brother’s current Jeep fixation. She’ll be test-driving something other than a Jeep, and for a while I actually feel guilty for snagging the Wrangler Rubicon out from under her – not guilty enough to offer it up to her, though. When I see the Wrangler parked in the driveway I get giddy, too. Visions of springtime in a Jeep with the top down woo me, and next thing I know, I’m sitting in the Jeep reading the manual on how to remove the hard top.
But really, there’s no need to read the manual because Emily, er, my anonymous coworker, is already removing the nifty panels (Freedom Top, Jeep calls them) from over my head. There are two that come off to expose the front seats and a third large one that covers the back seat and cargo area. I love this feature, and love that Em has it figured out before I can get the manual out of its G.I. Joe Army green canvas satchel. All the while, she’s talking faster and faster, getting all amped up and excited like some speed freak about how all the stuff in the Jeep works. Which is ironic really, because there’s not a lot of stuff actually in the Jeep. More on that later.
I must give props to my coworker though, because I NEVER would have been able to get the child car seats to fit properly-ish without her. I say properly-ish because they never truly fit as they should. Here is the biggest warning I can give you, my friends: small kids and the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon don’t mix. Backless boosters are fine, but anything else forward-facing is a disaster. The seat backs of the Jeep don’t angle back far enough for a good fit. And the head restraints of the Jeep’s seats only adjust backward in order to fold the back seat down, so a car seat with a back on it won’t sit flush against the Jeep’s seats. So, Emily (OK, cover’s blown) thankfully figures out that we can fold the seat down to get the headrest to tilt backwards, and she holds it like that while we put the seats back into position and fit the child car seat as good as we can. I actually go out and purchase a backless booster for my son during this test drive just so I can feel better about his safety in a proper-fitting booster seat.
One would think the car seat problem is enough of a red flag to let me know this Jeep is not good for small kids. Still, there’s something else: The doors on the Jeep swing freely, there’s no notch on the hinge to prop the door open. I have heart attacks every time my kids want to get in by themselves because (due to the lack of running boards or “Side Steps” as Jeep calls them) they want to grab the nylon strap to pull themselves up and into the car. If grabbed and pulled in the center, it accelerates the speed with which the door closes, inevitably on little fingers, or heads, or anything else in its path. I am constantly vigilant and quite honestly scared. Once the door is open, the Jeep is very high and hard even for my almost-5-year old to climb into. I know it’s supposed to be that way so you can 4-wheel over boulders (or vehicles or small buildings in the event of the Apocalypse), but it sucks for trips to the grocery store punctuated by the dry cleaners, juice joint and post office.
But, oh, the romance! Top off, spring day, satellite radio delivering all my favorites while we are out and about. That’s hard to beat. Hair back, sunglasses, great view of everything for the tots in the back is a great way to spend an afternoon. See, I appreciate when we’re finally out on the road because it takes so much to get us there.
Getting back to my frustrations, the ’07 Rubicon has no power locks. I know I sound totally spoiled, but life gets really jacked up without power locks, especially when the kids figure out how to lock you out and derive endless joy from it. Also, it’s no fun to be sure EVERYTHING is out of the car when the top’s down so nothing will get stolen. It is surely against some Tenet Of Motherhood to not store anything in the car. Lastly, there are no power windows. Forget that the kids don’t even know what the weird crank handle is for, this Jeep costs over $31,000. No power windows? On the sticker, the lack of power windows is actually listed as a feature, “Full Metal Doors with Roll-Up Windows.” What kind of freak sees that as a feature? Never mind, I just remembered that I work with her.
Did I mention the romance? Oh, it’s sweet. I can honestly say that I understand Jeep’s rugged, escapist fulfillment. I understand the passion for a Jeep. I also understand there are aspects of it that so completely rule me out as the target market, which almost negates my complaints (but not entirely). Jeep’s not even trying to pretend the Wrangler is my ideal car. A Jeep as a mom-mobile? You’re right, I just don’t understand.
*For more information on the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4×4 and its safety features visit Cars.com.
LET’S TALK NUMBERS
LATCH Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair – Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really (for families with small kids)