The Jeep Geek

The Jeep Geek's Blog
Dec 2011

Questions Frequently Asked

Christmas is approaching and The Jeep Geek is looking forward to family coming into town. He just finished decorating the house (Geek Bunker) for the holidays and is taking a break this morning to answer some questions that he has been asked during the year.

With the buzz surrounding the new 2012 Wrangler and the new Grand Cherokee, there have been a lot of folks who have never driven a Jeep, or even considered one that are suddenly at the Jeep store. They are bringing a boatload of questions with them. So here are a collection of a few of these questions. This might generate some discussion in the comments section below this article.

  • The Jeep Geek is often approached by people that ask either to see a Rubicon or to see a Jeep. What they are asking for is a Wrangler...after some careful questioning to determine what they are really looking for. So why are they asking for one of these two things? Well, for many decades the name of the product was a Willy’s Jeep. It wasn’t until the 90s that the Wrangler name showed up. People who have not been interested in a Wrangler are remembering the Jeeps of their youth...didn’t we all drive them in high school and college? Other folks have seen a Wrangler Rubicon with the Rubicon name there on the side of the Hood and assumed that all Wranglers were Rubicons. So what type of Wrangler should I consider for purchase?

  • There are three models in the Wrangler Family. It is not the traditional Good, Better, Best product positioning...leave it to Jeep to do something non-traditional here. The Sport (formerly the X) is the most popular. It can be configured to be more like the other two models, either dressed up like the Sahara (which is the model that is more refined) or can be built into an off-road beast like the Rubicon. The sport is the model that The Jeep Geek recommends for those whose budget is a bit tight, and will add to their Jeep downstream. Also, this model is good for those that intend to build an off-road monster and change axles (go to dana 60s), engines, suspension (lifting them) and wheels and tires. There is not much sense in starting with the more expensive Rubicon when you are going to replace all the Rubicon running gear.
  • The Jeep Geek recommends the Sahara to those who are going to need a daily driver and want to go off-road occasionally. These folks often want the added comfort and refinement of the Sahara like upgraded sound system, 18” wheels and tires, slightly firmer suspension that will yield a more pleasant driving experience every day.
  • The Rubicon is for those that want extensive off-road capability right from the factory. The Jeep Geek often helps these owners modify their Rubicon to give them more capability without massive replacement of the running gear. The stiffer suspension of the Rubicon, combined with the BF Goodrich tires give a more jarring ride than the Sahara, but this Jeep can be driven as a daily driver as well, it has some of the upgrades like the same sound system as the Sahara that make it a pleasant driver.
  • Two door or Four door is the last question. Families with younger kids will appreciate the 4 door. You can get into the back of the 2 door if you are a Russian Gymnast. So why would anyone want a 2 door? Well, they are fun to drive. The Jeep Geek’s drive is a 2 door Rubicon. The two door models are a bit more nimble, while the 4 door are a bit smoother ride on the highway.
  • The bottom line is you should carefully consider what you want in a Wrangler, what your lifestyle desires are, and select the model that best suits you. The Jeep Geek is happy to help if you desire that.

  • Which top configuration should I consider for the Wrangler?

  • There are three choices here. A soft top is standard. In fact, this choice on the Wrangler Unlimited nets the only production 4 door convertible in production today. The soft top is perfectly capable to handle the cold weather of winter here in Colorado and keeps the occupants warm. They are also much quieter than previous generations of Wrangler soft tops, but not quiet has quiet as a hard top.
  • The soft top can be upgraded to a 3 piece hard top which is how most Wranglers here in Colorado are configured. This enables the driver to remove the two panels over the front seats to get some open air feeling. Additionally the top can be completely removed for those weekend trips to the country.
  • Finally the Wrangler can have both tops (called the dual top option). In this configuration the hard top is left on during the winter months and around April or May, the hard top is removed and the soft top is installed for the summer months. Then in October or so, the soft top is replaced with the hard top.

  • Which is better, Manual or Automatic transmission?

  • The Jeep Geek has written an entire article on this question, you can search the archives to find his thoughts on this subject. The bottom line is both are good choices, get what you prefer. The new 5 speed automatic is a vast improvement over the older 4 speed and closes the gap nicely between the 6 speed manual and automatic.

  • What else should I consider as options?

  • There are a couple of very nice to have options. First, the Limited Slip rear axle is a very nice (and inexpensive upgrade). This will provide a bit more stability in slippery conditions. While all Jeeps have electronic stability control with traction control, having the mechanicals prevent slippage is better than having the brakes correct it when it happens. If your Wrangler doesn’t have a limited slip rear axle, don’t worry, it will operate just fine...the upgrade is worth the couple of hundred dollars in peace of mind.
  • Second, if you have a manual transmission, the Jeep Geek recommends upgrading the final gear ratios from the 1:3.21 to 1:3.73. This is a $50 option from the factory and will provide a nice bump in power delivered to the wheels. This year, the Rubicon’s 1:4.10 final gearing is also an option that The Jeep Geek highly recommends for the same reason.
  • Leather seats, heated seats, power this and that, Blue tooth hands free cell phone, and various radio options are available and make driving the Jeep a much nicer experience if they fit the budget.

One should also consider a whole host of aftermarket upgrades such as off-road bumpers, lifts, bigger tires, body armor and slush mats. The thing about the Wrangler is that it is a platform for your individual expression...there are a ton of options to make your Jeep uniquely yours. Go out and have fun in your new Jeep. It is a Jeep Thing after all.



A New Jeep Pickup Truck JK8

Some of The Jeep Geek’s readers may be aware of the JK8 Pickup truck built on a wrangler unlimited platform. We have our first one here after 3 long months. The Jeep Geek saw the Mopar announcement that a conversion kit was available and ordered one for Pollard Jeep on the first day. The kit took a little over a month to get here, and about as long at a local body shop to be installed on a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.

It should be noted that it would not normally take 45 to 60 days to implement the JK8, but the body shop we chose used it as fill work when their shop was not busy, probably should take about a week to implement.

Enough about that, looks cool. The rear seat is lost, a smaller cabin gives way to an actual pickup truck bed. The rear gate and bumper are retained, so it has not lost any off-road capability due to a longer backend (reduced angle of departure). The Jeep Geek is also expecting a pickup truck modification from AEV in the near future, it will be interesting to see how they compare.

The Jeep Geek sat for a while enjoying this pickup truck and thought about its evolution from earlier Jeep pickup trucks. Jeep certainly has a history of producing them...maybe not as storied as the Ram pickups that other Chrysler stores sell, but a history still. The Jeep Geek discovered an interesting iPad app that provides an interesting history of Jeep and will use it to regale you now.

History of Jeep Pickup Trucks:

The Jeep Geek makes no representation of the completeness of this history, there may be some models that are not mentioned...if you are aware of some omissions, please add them through the comments section.

1947 to 1965 Willy’s Overland truck

This is the first Jeep Pickup truck based on the CJ platform, but with a longer wheelbase (118”). It had the same engine as the short wheelbase Jeep and was available in several configurations...pickup truck, stake bed, or bare chassis. They were available in either 2wd or 4 wd and were marketed to the modern farmer. The Jeep Geek guesses that modern farmer refers to any farmer at the time that didn’t plow with a horse.

During the next decade Jeep had two pickup models, the Willy’s Overland pictured above, and the new FC-150

1950s FC-150

The Forward Control Series were the next evolution. Remarkable design that was built on the CJ frame made this little beast more maneuverable and the low bed made loading and unloading easier. Both 4 and 6 cylinder models were available. “More cargo space on shorter wheelbase and it goes anywhere.” is how it was marketed. The unique cab forward design enabled this claim. This design makes it look different to any Jeep of the era.


1960s J-3000 Jeep Gladiator Truck

In 1962 Jeep totally redesigned the truck to look more like a traditional truck. We lost the 7 slot grille in the process. Go figure. They were still Jeep tough and resembled the Jeep Grand Wagoneer that would soon appear.


1980s Jeep Comanche MJ

This is the last pickup produced by Jeep. It was built on the Cherokee (XJ) platform and is unique in that it sports a unibody. This is the pickup that most Jeepers remember when they ask for a Jeep pickup.


So The Jeep Geek hopes that you enjoyed this little jaunt through Jeep’s pickup truck history. Now, enjoy the new Jeep JK8 pickup that can be built at your local Jeep store. The Jeep Geek would be happy to build one for you.