EXPERT REVIEW

Mother Proof's view


Due to mechanical difficulties, my husband and I had to make a last-minute change in plans in order to drive a fresh little convertible on the day of our wedding. With hours to go, my then-fiance was remarkably lucky to get his hot little hands on a Jeep Wrangler. It arrived with mud streaks on either side from the previous renter’s adrenaline-driven four-wheel-drive mission deep into the hills.

After the ceremony, the threat of an imminent thunderstorm made for brisk hellos and thank yous. As the rain started, my newly-wed husband and I dashed to the Jeep. Breathless and panting I carelessly jumped into the rugged off-road machine, where we broke out in laughter. I remember how endless ripples of white silk blanketed my husband and filled the entire interior of the car. It was a comical sight, indeed!

Fast forward a decade, and I have had a second rendezvous with the Jeep Wrangler. I’ve traded the wedding gown for two kids and visiting relatives, and if I thought this two-door off-roader seemed small with my voluminous wedding dress inside, then I was in for a real treat now. As I wrestled my 3-year old’s car seat into the backseat, I almost threw out my back. By week’s end, I could barely walk. The car seat installation process was cumbersome on its own, but getting my son into his car seat was a daily nightmare, so much so, that I avoided any errands I didn’t have to do. I dreaded the uncomfortable multi-step process of having to manually slide forward the driver’s seat as far as possible, dropping the seatback, stepping up while balancing a child in my arms, squeezing one of my legs through to the back without getting caught in the seatbelt, desperately avoiding bonking anyone’s head and twisting my torso in a painful way to buckle him in. Whew!

Once I got the kids into their seats, I focused on my own comfort, or shall I say, lack of comfort. I couldn’t seem to lower the seat cushion far enough to easily reach the gas pedal. Either I was too close to the dash or too far from the pedal, creating a tired suspended-foot like sensation. Additionally, the turn signal lever was more of a reach than I am used to. The soft-top Jeep also drowned out conversation, forcing us to keep repeating ourselves. At one point, my first grader requested me to “please put up the windows.” To his surprise they were up; the car was just plain noisy. You can add bumpy to the list as well. On the highway, I caught my kids playing the AAAAHHHHH game in an attempt to point out the skipping of their voices as we bumped over each and every highway seam (at a thirsty 19 mpg to boot).

For a rugged adventure bound vehicle, one might expect a decent set of cup holders. I was baffled when I could barely fit my slim Camelbak water bottle, meaning that my 1-liter Nalgene would not stand a chance. Furthermore, the driver and passenger door compartments are so tiny that I couldn’t even house my carpool name cards. They seem best reserved for pens/tire gauges and other small trinkets.

Having been outdoors with our kids hiking and climbing trees, we brought pine needles back with us. I noticed that a few needles got stuck in the net-like upholstery. After a brief, and unsuccessful, attempt at removing them, I gave up, shaking my head at what other things would get stuck as well. That’s a bad design, if you care about that kind of thing!

After picking up my engineering-minded dad at the airport, he managed to painfully pinch his finger in the window in what I assume was an information gathering effort to test the optional power windows for kid’s safety.. Thanks Dad, for sacrificing your fingers and being the guinea pig, here! Of course, kids delve into everything on their own, and pinch protection should be there to safeguard them from accidents such as these.

As I reviewed my notes on the Jeep the night before its return, I learned that I could not easily switch on and off the dome light. After consulting the owner’s manual I discovered that I had to turn one of the driver’s control levers to illuminate the interior. So much for the push of a button!

We’ve all seen the bumper stickers: It’s a Jeep thing. You wouldn’t understand. Well, I admit, I don’t understand. I don’t understand why anyone would choose to put themselves through the misery of transporting children in this car if they did not absolutely have to. I understand that this isn’t the main purpose of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, but even die-hard off-roaders use their vehicles like the rest of us occasionally.

*For more information on the Jeep Wrangler and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to editor@motherproof.com.

LET’S TALK NUMBERS

Latch Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 4

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny-Fair

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really

Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Good Times (Surely Groove-On in the Summer)

Specs

2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Base price: $26,695

Price as tested: $31,620

Engine: 3.8-liter V-6

Fuel: 16/19 mpg

Length: 163.8″

Width: 73.7″

Step In Height: 10.2″ minimum ground clearance

Turning Radius: 17.5 ft

Cargo space: 17.2 – 56.5 cu ft

NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings

Frontal Impact

Driver’s side: 5 Stars

Passenger’s side: 5 Stars

Side Impact

Front occupant: Not Rated

Rear occupant: Not Rated

Rollover resistance: 3 Stars

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