The Jeep Geek

The Jeep Geek's Blog
Mar 2012

Two Faced Analysis

...or what passes for analysis. This weekend, Consumer Reports published another web article in a long line of articles designed to link bait, but provide no insight whatsoever on a vehicle’s relative merits. Their deep-seated prejudice completely torqued The Jeep Geek and he is here to set the record straight.

So what set him off you might ask. An article titled “ My torrid love affair with the lowest-rated vehicle, the Jeep Wrangler”. Jeff Bartlett wrote this piece, and if it represents his ability to provide insight, then things are going down hill fast at Consumer Reports. Perhaps something like Hill-Descent control would be useful for them...even after weeks of testing, they clearly didn’t find that bit of technology, one that should be at the top of their list.

So let’s look at the title, torrid love affair with the Wrangler...really??? Jeff allows as how he has been wanting to buy a Wrangler since the YJ days, and can’t bring himself to do so. In human terms, he is in love (his words not The Jeep Geek’s) but can’t commit...imagine having a crush on a woman since the mid 90s and asking her on a couple of short dates, but never progressing to any kind of relationship...doesn’t sound like love to The Jeep Geek (who has been married to Mrs. Geek for over 28 years). Jeff Bartlett, you are a putz.

Jeff has driven a YJ, TJ, early JK and now a 2012 JK. Each for a short period of time...a day or so. The Jeep Geek has spent more hours driving Wranglers than Jeff has spent in school...clearly. Mr. Bartlett never reports actually taking the Wrangler off-road, so one wonders how he is able to rate the strengths of the Wrangler at all. Perhaps the Honda Accord could drive quietly and comfortably on drive pavement, but won’t handle even the most mild Jeep trail...hummmm.

Jeff has some theory that the Wrangler should strike a balance of Off-road performance and on-road manners. So does The Jeep Geek. Where we differ is how to rate the vehicle with these conflicting goals. Jeff would prefer a vehicle that is not as capable off-road (apparently) and even more comfortable on road. Jeep makes several vehicles that hit this mark but which thinking man would ever rate the Wrangler low is beyond The Jeep Geek. The Wrangler Rubicon is Peterson’s 4x4 of the decade...Jeff gives the Wrangler 17 points (on some unknown and arbitrary scale)...a quarter of the points need to achieve his recommendation...putz.

Here is an example of his analysis: Removable doors are cool, but I never see a current Wrangler with them removed. Leave this ability to just the Rubicon off-road king, and give proper door detents to the other trims, so kids (big and small) don't fling the unhindered doors open into adjacent parked cars. Jeff’s parenting skills sound as though they are as weak as his automotive analysis skills. The Jeep Geek is not sure where Jeff lives, but he claims that it is in a town where there are plenty of Jeeps. How he doesn’t see Wranglers with the doors off is again beyond The Jeep Geek. They are all over Boulder Colorado when the weather is nice...maybe Jeff doesn’t see this is because it is Winter now and most Jeepers prefer the comfort of solid doors and their tops on.

Jeff goes on to say:
“I love the removable Freedom Top roof panels. Taking off the soft-tops have always been a thankless chore to contend with, especially as they age, stretch, and fray. Give me a hard top with the removable panels for fresh air, but how about insulating them and the entire top to reduce the wind-noise resonance that drowns conversation and rational thought?” Taking the soft-top down is far from thankless...the reward is the unique open air experience that putting the top down offers...that no other 4 door vehicle on the planet offers...thankless...really? Also, with the hard-top in place, the wind-noise is far from interfering with normal conversation...the Sahara model he drove came with an infinity sound system...like The Jeep Geek’s rubicon is equipped with. The Jeep Geek can hear all the clarity of Frankie Lane’s lovely baritone voice together with the highs of the instruments (guitars mostly) that accompany him...even at highway speeds...Jeff, put the roof panels back on, there is no difference between the wind noise of the Wrangler with the roof panels removed and the Grand Cherokee with the sun roof opened...both are noisy in this configuration at highway speed...and the Grand Cherokee was awarded quietest SUV by Car and Driver...come on guy. The Jeep Geek is not surprised that Jeff seems to be having a problem with rational thought...his words not The Jeep Geek’s.

While it is easy to point the finger at Jeff Bartlett, this fuzzy thinking seems to run rampant at Consumer Reports. For example, another article entitled “From the log book: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara”

This time the writer is Mike Quincy. Another complete miss by Consumer Reports...honestly, why would anyone pay for their service?

Mike makes some ludicrous statements such as:

“[The engine] is plenty quick, once you get the transmission to downshift.” Mike, the drive system is adaptive...if you just drive it a bit more aggressively the transmission shift points will become more firm...you didn’t report that.

“The ride is a jittery and unsettled.” Maybe something to do with solid axles that are the best on the planet for off-roading. His comment is quite overstated.

“Access is awful - no door checks and a high sill.” What? The Jeep Geek finds it is easier to climb into a Wrangler than the motion required to get into a sedan...with a sedan, one has to fold their body, un-naturally, squat into the seat, rear first all while ducking the head, and then swing folded legs into the car...very uncomfortable in comparison. Perhaps Mike is as short as a 10 year old girl and the climb is too much for him.

“$37,000 and no power seat?” enough said here. No, The Jeep Geek isn’t going to let this go. There are two things wrong with this statement, first, seems that Consumer Reports (a communist organization) has trouble with the price...get over it, there is more steel in this rugged beast than the flimsy sheet metal found in competing vehicles...it is designed with the rigors of off-road in mind...the toyotas have sheet metal as thin as a Coors lite can. He makes no mention of the superior 5 link suspension, advanced traction control system, peerless off-road capability, and amazing electronics packages included in this Jeep.

“The front seats are both too firm and too soggy.” What? Which is it? The Jeep Geek is wondering if Mike Quincy is actually Goldilocks. Can Mike actually fall asleep on a bed if a pea is placed under the mattress. The Wrangler seats are very comfortable, even for the aging back of The Jeep Geek.

Visibility is lousy. The B-pillars are right in the way, and the door mirrors seem too narrow and badly placed.” Mike, first you have to be tall enough to see over the steering wheel...the picture you include shows the A pillars not the B pillars...which are located right next to your left ear. The door Mirrors are quite generous and are located right on the door where you would expect door mirrors to be located...

“Not a fan of the center-located window switches.” Where would you put them Mike? on the Doors, where they would add even more weight when you remove the doors to get the unique Jeep driving experience of top down and doors off?

Yes, this is what passes for a Wrangler review...pretty pathetic. Neither article mentions that the Wrangler is fun to drive...off-road or on-road...take the doors off, drop the top, and get out and have fun.

These folks claim to represent consumers...lets look at the facts. There is only one other vehicle that comes close to the Wrangler for off-road performance...that is the Toyota FJ Cruiser. The new 2012 Jeep Wrangler (with the new pentastar engine) has all but dried up the sales of the FJ...the consumers have spoken. Jeep is having trouble keeping up with demand for the Wrangler, Toyota has excess inventory...The Jeep Geek wonders how highly the FJ is regarded at Consumer Reports. FJ sales are in the hundreds per month (nationally) while the wrangler is in the 10s of thousands per month...maybe the folks at Consumer Reports need an unbiased reviewer and a set of criteria that reflect what the consumer wants.
The Geek abides

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Pi Day

OK, so this article doesn’t have a lot to do with Jeeping. The Jeep Geek is always in tune with geeky stuff so he is going to celebrate National Pi day. What is Pi you might ask...ok, you probably already know or you don’t really care...Pi is the relationship between the diameter of a circle and the circumference. Expressed as a number it is always 3.14159 (and keeps going). It is one of those mathematical ratios that has allowed for many engineering accomplishments and like the golden rectangle, it is a key fundamental of mathematics.

Why would The Jeep Geek care about Pi? He is glad you asked. One of the circles that The Jeep Geek cares about is the circle represented by tires. (You knew this was coming didn’t you?) For example a 32 inch tire has a circumference of 100.53088 inches. A 35 inch tire has a circumference of 109.95565 inches. This means that the 35 inch tire rolls roughly 10% farther than the 32 inch tire for each revolution of the tire. This translates to needing 10% more torque to move a jeep with 35 inch tires (than one with 32 inch tires) for a given distance. Hence, a 10% loss of power with these larger tires. To overcome this “power loss” either the engine torque has to be increased by 10% or the gearing has to be increased 10% to match the acceleration of 32 inch tires.

On March 14th...geeks all around the world celebrate Pi day (3/14). At 1:59 at Pollard Jeep, The Jeep Geek will celebrate Pi day by offering a free slice of pie to any guests that show up. This isn’t a holiday on par with Christmas, New Years day, or Halloween, but none the less is important to geeks everywhere. So come have a slice with The Jeep Geek.

The Geek abides

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Fiat Lux

No...this article has nothing to do with Fiat cars. Fiat Lux is latin for “Let there be light”. The Jeep Geek was classically educated...a true renaissance man. He found this title while reading the Vulgate...google it.

So our topic today is about lighting systems since many of you want to be off-road at night, wether conquering obstacles by moonlight, or simply camping in a nice remote area. The Jeep Geek feels that roughing it is spending the night in a hotel without room service so you probably won’t find him camping out there...but stranger things have happened.

While The Jeep Geek is a huge fan of the Wrangler, the headlights that come from the factory (while adequate for normal road driving) could use a bit of an upgrade for the trails. The standard headlamps are halogen, which is pretty hi-tech for a decade ago, now High-Intensity Discharge (HID) is the new high end for headlamps. These HIDs can be found on some of the Grand Cherokee models, but would be amazing on the Wrangler...so The Jeep Geek did an experiment. He had some HID lamps (aftermarket) placed into Wranglers and while they did indeed throw a nice bluish light pretty far down the road, it was not without some problems...for example, there is a lengthy burn-in period where the light flickers and vibrates a bit for the first dozen or so hours on many of the units. New ballast units also had to be added to drive these lamps and this whole thing left The Jeep Geek with the impression that these mods would not be reliable...so he is not a fan of that approach.

So adding more halogen lamps to the bumper and A pillar are the solutions that Jeepers have used for many years. As can be seen in the picture below, just increasing lamp count will throw more light...but also draw a lot more current. This may result in the need to upgrade the battery and charging system on older Wranglers...

11_j_w2d_ext_lht_mopar_off_road_lights_sec

This just might be the solution for most of you, some limitations, but if your lighting needs are modest, budget is limited, this is the way to go...and these units look just fine and are out-of-the-way.

Now many of The Jeep Geek’s readers are no-limits kind of off-roaders. They are looking for the perfect solution. Here it is. The Jeep Geek is a big fan of Rigid Industries’ LED lights. He has spec’ed light bars on several of his customer builds, and if Mrs Geek buys off, will add one of these light bars to The Hummer Recovery Vehicle.

Rigid makes a number of different configurations from 4 LED spots that can be mounted on the “A” pillar, short light bars that can be mounted on the front bumper...say on the grille guard of an off-road bumper, to a 50” light bar that fits at the top of the windshield of a JK Wrangler. These light bars come in two configurations, one with a single row of LEDs (50 LED lamps) or one with two rows (yep, 100 LED lamps). The unit that The Jeep Geek is considering is the single row 50” for over his windshield.

E2

Now lets talk about light. This unit produces 16,000 lumens and draws 12.1 amps (173 watts). Lets put this in context. A 100 watt incandescent light bulb produces about 1300 lumens...so this light bar produces the light of over a dozen table lamps for the power consumption of about 2. Now lets talk about life expectancy. These LED lights should last about 50,000 hours of operation. This is about 17 years if you ran them for 8 hours per night every day of the year. You will probably hand these things down to your grand children. That is reliability that The Jeep Geek can get his head around.

The light bar has a combination of spot and flood lenses so the lighting provides a great view down the trail as well as lighting any obstacles to the side of the trail. The picture at the top of this article is a demonstration of the lighting power of this light bar.

The Geek abides

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