Too many of today's cars feel exactly the same.
If you're looking at a new crossover vehicle or mid-size sedan, nearly every one is a slightly different flavor of vanilla. They've all got good brakes, good steering and a good suspension. They're all quiet and relatively smooth riding.
Differences between them are so subtle, it's easy to accuse the auto manufacturers of playing a giant, expensive game of copycat.
Then you drive a Jeep Wrangler and realize just how different a vehicle can be.
The Wrangler is an anachronism, the kind of car that has all but died off as buyers focus on comfort and fuel economy — two things the Wrangler simply doesn't exist to do.
But thank God it's still around.
This is the original Jeep, the one with roots dating back to World War II, and you can feel it all the time. It's like driving a tent on roller skates. There's simply nothing else like it, as anyone who's driven a Jeep knows.
It's become even more of a loner now that the Hummer brand has disappeared, leaving it virtually deserted as the only affordable vehicle that's engineered specifically for off-road driving. Other cars may have boxy bodies and all-wheel drive, but a 4x4 Jeep is the real thing — the one vehicle that's actually meant to spend all day pounding the trails, not just looking the part.
That means it comes with tradeoffs, of course, as it sacrifices comfort at the altar of off-road performance. It's bouncy and rough riding, and also one of the noisiest vehicles at highway speed.
At the same time, it's come a long way in terms of livability in just a few short years. It's still largely a toy, something designed for fun on the weekends — and making you smile throughout the week — but it's also quieter and more modern than it used to be.
The 2013 Wrangler, for instance, comes with thicker, premium cloth material for the soft top that does a better job sealing out wind and road noise. It also comes with new, more comfortable seats and an easy-lift mechanism for helping remove the top.
At its core, though, the Wrangler stays true to the Jeep mission — off-road performance. It's all about tow hooks and roll bars, torque and traction, and it's an absolute blast to drive off the pavement.
To get similar performance in a different car, you've got to pay a whole lot more. Only a few vehicles come close to matching what the Wrangler can do, albeit more luxuriously, including the Range Rover ($83,500), Toyota Land Cruiser ($78,255) and Mercedes-Benz G-Class ($113,000).
Who would actually want to take those expensive cars onto trails, though? You'd have to be both crazy and wealthy to do it.
For those of us who are only slightly crazy and not wealthy, the Jeep Wrangler exists to whet our off-road appetite.
It starts at $22,195 with two doors, or $25,695 for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited.
Too many of today's cars feel exactly the same.
GM: 110 paid internships
General Motors is kicking the tires on a unique new internship program for Detroit-area high school students.Continued ...
Gas prices rise 10 cents over past week
AAA Michigan says gasoline prices have risen about 10 cents during the past week to a statewide average of about $3.88 per gallon.Continued ...
Couple, resort in Twitter tussle
An Internet entrepreneur and former Wall Street derivatives analyst contends central Idaho’s Sun Valley resort and the Twitter Inc. social media site heisted his handle.Continued ...
Court rules for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac in Oakland lawsuit
A federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling and threw out tax claims by Oakland County against the federally charted mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.Continued ...
Ex-Saab execs arrested on accounting charges
A Swedish prosecutor says three former executives of automaker Saab Automobile AB have been arrested on accounting fraud charges.Continued ...
- Sunday, May 19, 2013
Oryana celebrates 40 years in business
In the early 1970s, a small group of Traverse City families got together to drive to Ann Arbor and purchase the grains and beans they couldn’t find locally.Continued ...
Chamber View: Multiple opportunities for learning
The people who make up our local business community often wear many hats – boss, line worker, ambassador, bookkeeper, mentor … the list goes on.Continued ...
Business Memoranda: 05/19/2013
Custer Workplace Interiors has added Emily Heilig to its northern Michigan sales team.Continued ...
Business in Brief: 05/19/2013
Become a contractor; Solar projec tbeing offered; MMC joins Spectrum. (Plus more)Continued ...
Building Permits: 05/19/2013
Building permits issued in Grand Traverse County:Continued ...
Real Estate Transfers: 05/19/2013
Address, asking price and sold price:Continued ...
The Record: 05/19/2013
Assumed names filed in Grand Traverse County:Continued ...
- Saturday, May 18, 2013
Ag Forum: Chestnuts a growing market
Various species of chestnut are found in Michigan — naturally in the landscape, in green spaces as ornamentals and also planted in orchards for nut production.Continued ...
Futures File: Even with large crop, soybeans shoot higher
Although U.S. farmers are expecting to harvest a large soybean crop this fall, the current supply of soybeans in storage is running low, lifting prices higher. This week, July soybeans shot up 45 cents (+3.2 percent), reaching $14.47 per bushel on Friday morning.Continued ...
Farm Focus in Brief: 05/18/2013
Beverage classes; Weed management; Compost Day. (Plus more)Continued ...
- Friday, May 17, 2013
Festival spotlights science, math
Newton’s Road, a regional nonprofit organization committed to increasing access to and appreciation of learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, continues its Northern Michigan STEaM Film Festival on Saturday.Continued ...
Only 2 of 13 small SUVs do well in crash tests
Only two of 13 small SUVs performed well in front-end crash tests done by an insurance industry group, with several popular models faring poorly in the evaluations.Continued ...
Technology, labor spar on immigration
To the U.S. technology industry, there’s a dramatic shortfall in the number of Americans skilled in computer programming and engineering that is hampering business.Continued ...
Compuware cancels events to honor company co-founder
The wife of a Compuware Corp. co-founder is upset that events to honor her husband’s legacy and the software development company’s history have been canceled.Continued ...
- Thursday, May 16, 2013
Eurozone recession is now longest in currency bloc
The eurozone is now in its longest ever recession — a stubborn slump that has surpassed even the calamity that hit the region in the financial crisis of 2008-2009.Continued ...
State economy still on upswing
Economists say Michigan’s economy is turning around for the fourth straight year in part because the housing sector is on the mend.Continued ...
State’s jobless rate decreases
Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down in April by one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.4 percent.Continued ...
Compuware plans IPO for Covisint subsidiary
Software development company Compuware Corp. says it’s planning an initial public offering for its Covisint Corp. subsidiary.Continued ...
House panel set to OK cut in food stamp program
A House committee rebuffed Democratic efforts Wednesday to keep the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program whole, as debate on the farm bill turned into a theological discourse on helping the poor.Continued ...
- Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Wind farms get pass on eagle deaths
It happens about once a month here, on the barren foothills of one of America’s green-energy boomtowns: A soaring golden eagle slams into a wind farm’s spinning turbine and falls, mangled and lifeless, to the ground.Continued ...
- GM: 110 paid internships