The particular Jeep in question is the Wrangler Sahara, which anchors the trusty 4x4’s luxury credentials, if you could call it that. While a Range Rover owner may scoff at the lack of 19-way massaging and heated and cooled seats, the cloth seating and easy-to-use controls are a security blanket of predictability that any previous Jeep owner can easily recognize. The pot is sweetened with a twotone interior, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, and touch-screen navigation. In the time of the Willys, this could have qualiﬁed as a mobile command unit.
Jeep offers the Wrangler’s exterior in a color called “Crush” that exists somewhere between the shade of orange found on a utility truck and the color of an orange soda. If you are not yet aware, it is a very bright shade of orange. This attention-grabbing hue is augmented by the optional body-color, three-piece hardtop. At $1,000 for the color package, it is one massive, orange cube. Luckily, we were inside the vehicle and were more concerned with function than form. Such is the Jeep Way.
The deﬁning factor between the Jeep Wrangler Sahara and a more extreme vehicle like the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is practicality. Both vehicles are capable of many of the same activities, taking to the trails with superb composure. Both vehicles have incredible approach angles (the angle from the front bumper to the front wheels, or how steep a hill you can approach from ﬂat ground) and can navigate all manner of dirt, sand, and rock with ease.
Where the Raptor exceeds in excess, the Wrangler is able to do more with less.The 3.6-liter V6 powerplant makes 285 horsepower, which may seem anemic compared to the Raptor’s robust 411, but for trails, rock, and mud, it’s not about how much power one wields, but rather the manner in which it is delivered. The Wrangler features Jeep’s trademark Command-Trac 4x4 system. It is shift-on-the-ﬂy and delivers a 50/50 torque split in 4WD High.
Those wide-eyed over the Raptor may overlook the fact that we are in New England, and open swaths of desert trails are hard to come by up here. In the back trails of the Berkshires and White Mountains, slow and steady power delivery is the preferred method of off-road travel. It should also be pointed out that the sheer width of the Raptor will preclude it from a number of trails that the Wrangler will have no trouble traversing.
Once again, it is a matter of practicality. Be it price, where the four-door Sahara Unlimited with many options selected comes in at around $38,000, thousands less than the Raptor’s starting price of $42,975. Practicality can also be found in the logic of 17/21 MPG compared to 11/16 in the Raptor. There is also the small chore of parking the Raptor, which requires a small team of spotters. While some repressed, ancient instinct drew us to the Raptor, it was sensibility that won us over with the Wrangler. Besides, you can go just as far off-road in the Wrangler—you just won’t be doing it at high speeds.
George Kennedy isafreelance automotive writer. He can be reached at George.Kennedy@ boldride.com. Follow him on twitter @GKenns101.
Clifford Atiyeh is senior news editor for MSN Autos and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org