In far-flung corners of the Earth, these Jeeps proved why they’re some of the best off-roaders
We’re big Jeep fans ’round these parts. But these parts being MotorTrend’s urban Los Angeles HQ, there’s nary a speck of dirt nearby to let Jeeps do what they do best. Our fandom comes from the numerous off-road adventures we’ve taken in Jeeps, ranging between quick laps of our local off-road park to multi-day wilderness excursions. Through it all the Jeeps toughed it out, proving time and again why they’re some of the best off-roaders out there.
Jeep made big moves over the last decade. On the back of an industry-altering merger, it dove into new segments. It created the most powerful SUV ever. And, it reinvented its own icons. We covered it all, each occasion reminding us why Jeeping is so great. To recall those awesome memories, we rounded up the best Jeep adventures we took between 2010 and 2020. Check out those stories and photos below.
August 2011: Testing The 2012 Jeep Wrangler JK On The Rubicon Trail
At first glance, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler seemed the same as it ever was. A second look, however, showed a more civilized, comfortable interior. Peeking under the hood revealed a smaller but improved engine, one that shaved more than 3 seconds off the previous version’s 0-60 time.
And yet, off-road, the Wrangler stayed the same as it ever was—which is to say, awesome. We took it on California’s Rubicon Trail, where it rolled over massive boulders and through surprise water crossings with aplomb.
August 2013: Celebrating 10 Years Of The Wrangler Rubicon Trim On The Rubicon
Back to the Rubicon Trail we went, this time with Jonny Lieberman at the wheel for a fresh episode of Ignition. His steed was a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition, built to celebrate a decade of Jeep’s trail-tuned version of the Wrangler.
As Jonny piloted his six-speed manual Rubicon over the Rubicon—doors and roof removed, natch—he ruminated on Jeep’s off-road heritage and why there’s hardly a better vehicle for taking on steep, technical, unpredictable terrain.
May 2015: Surprise And Delight As We Test The 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk In Moab
Around the middle of the decade the subcompact SUV segment was blooming, and Jeep jumped in with the Renegade. Its independent suspension, Italian origins, and front-wheel-drive-based platform made this little Jeeplet unlike the rigs we’d come to know and love. So where’d we test it? All over Moab.
While it clearly wasn’t a true boulder basher, in Trailhawk form it tackled Slickrock all day. Ultimately, we found the Renegade to possess those qualities that make Jeeping so great: “A driving challenge, good company, and going as far as the equipment will take you. “
July 2015: A Whole Year Of Adventures In Our Long-Term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
More than a Renegade, less than a Wrangler, the Cherokee was built to meet the mid-2010’s crossover craze. Being dirt enthusiasts, we added a 2014 Trailhawk model to our long-term test fleet. Did we adventure it? You bet we did.
During a year of multi-state road trips, mountaintop weekend jaunts, and tricky trail sessions, we racked up over 25,000 miles on our Cherokee Trailhawk. Despite some annoyances, we enjoyed this midsize Jeep, finding it equally comfortable and practical as its competitors, but far more capable when the pavement ended.
April 2016: The JK Wrangler Faces Off Against Two Competitors In The Snow
Some semblance of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” was the thesis for our comparison between the Jeep Wrangler and two of its off-road rivals, the Mercedes-Benz G550 and Toyota Land Cruiser. Envisioning a hasty apocalyptic bugout, we drove the trio over tough mixed terrain to find out which would perform best when the gates of hell open.
The Wrangler breezed over rock and stayed well stuck on snow, but its manners weren’t matched against the others on paved surfaces. Wait, manners? In a Wrangler? We surmised that those issues would be addressed by the all-new, next-generation model, and found out firsthand not long after.