If you’ve not seen it, HBO’s Band of Brothers remains one of the finest accounts of WWII you can watch. Winters, Malarkey, Nixon, Lipton, good ol’ soft-spoken Shifty Powers – with ten episodes to explore the triumphs, defeats, wounds, and sacrifices of the men of Easy Company, a greater story is told than any movie, even Saving Private Ryan, can manage.
Having just watched the series in its entirety, it’s with Dick Winters’ final words – “a company of heroes” – and the memory of that rising, mournful brass crescendo that I picked up the keys to this week’s tester. A Jeep, a proper Jeep – in a way, the last real Jeep you can still buy: the Wrangler.
The word “iconic” gets thrown around quite a bit these days, but there’s something about the squared-off shape of the Wrangler that echoes all the way back to those military roots in the 1940s. And, if you missed out on the cues, then Jeep has thoughtfully hidden silhouettes of the original on its 18-inch alloys, and inscribed the passenger grab-handle with the phrase, “Since 1941.”
Real subtle – but then, there’s not supposed to be anything subtle about a Jeep. This one’s fire-engine red, and it’s got a seven-bar grille, round headlights, functional hood tie-downs, and the doors swing open without any resistance when you open them. You could easily show a picture of this to any of the men of the 101st airborne, and they’d recognize it. Seventy years after WWII ended, the Wrangler’s a hell of a lot more civilized, but the bones of the original are still there.
For one thing, you can take most of this exterior cladding off. The roof comes off, you can fold the windshield down, the exposed hinges of the doors mean you could take those off too. It’s all a big Mechano-set of a thing, held together by Torx screws – a toolkit to take it all apart is included. However, it’s colder than Bastogne out today, so I’ll be keeping this wheeled foxhole buttoned up, thank you very much.
The inside of the Wrangler is actually pretty nice billeting for such a rough-and-tumble exterior. Being an Unlimited trim, this Sahara comes with heated seats, a USB connector, power windows with one-touch down for the fronts, and a pretty kickass Alpine sound system with speakers mounted in the roof and a touchscreen display. This last is slightly on the small side, but works just fine.
Other amenities include automatic headlights, an automatic transmission, remote starter, auto-dimming rearview mirror – this particular Wrangler is anything but bare bones, and it’s got the price tag to match. However, as a relative value, it’s not bad. Compare the Sahara to similarly equipped sport truck like the Tacoma we reviewed not that long ago, and pricing is fairly close with more equipment available.