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Long-term 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon second-quarter update

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“Half a year in and the Wrangler still drives like the day it got here,” said one editor. “That means the gearbox is slushy, the steering will get around to changing direction eventually and the ride bounces you all over the place. It’s a big box going down the road, so the wind noise and buffeting are considerable. You’ll find yourself checking to make sure all the windows are up. All that said, I love it!”

The problem with Jeeps—even one as capable as the 2016 Wrangler Rubicon, which has been under our stewardship for six months—is that you can only really do fun Jeep things at certain times. The rest of the time, it’s just commuting.

It doesn’t really do road trips. Well, it can, just not well. When the chance came to drive to Toronto and back to Detroit in a day, we picked our long-term Genesis G90 over this noisy, inefficient rumbler. The cargo area isn’t big enough for real construction jobs, and the passenger area isn’t quite equipped for coddling your grandparents.

What it does do well is winter. When the snow started falling, the keys got a lot scarcer. One inch or 10, the Jeep eats it for breakfast while keeping the cabin warm, even with the breezy soft top. Giant, 32-inch BFGoodrich tires can tackle any slush, puddle or snowbank, even if there’s a parking block lurking within. And that’s really the best thing about a Jeep — you never have to worry. Steaming hot? Freezing cold? Ice on the road? Rocks? No road at all? The Wrangler can handle that.

It’s actually more fun when things get a bit messy. Even in four-wheel drive, it’ll kick the back tires loose in the snow or gravel. And if that sweeping drift ends up in the parking lot next door? Not a problem.

We put about 3,000 miles on the Wrangler this quarter, a little less than the last, and used about 190 gallons of fuel at a cost of $400. Our average mileage was 15.8 mpg, with a high of 17.3 and a low of 13.8.

Next quarter, we’re seriously planning to go off-road. Michigan has a handful of great spots for Jeep-centric work, and we’re going to find them. The arrival of spring will make things easier, and we should probably add some equipment built for the task. But until then, when we need a punching bag to take blows for us, it’s Jeep or nothing.

This article first appeared in the April 17 issue of Autoweek magazine. Get your subscription here.

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