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Here's Why the Jeep Wrangler Pickup Is Awesome
I spent the last four days driving around in a Jeep Wrangler pickup truck. This is because I was out in Los Angeles, and I wanted something cool to drive. In Los Angeles, "cool" takes on a whole new meaning. People out there drive around in Porsche 911s with the same frequency as people here in Philadelphia drive around in Ford Econoline cargo vans with mismatched tires.
So I went on Turo, which gives me a monthly budget for renting cars, and I selected a Jeep Wrangler pickup truck. For those of you who don't know Turo, it's this website that lets you rent other peoples' cars. So if you don't want a boring, standard rental car -- like a Chevy Malibu with both keys grafted together on the same hoop -- you can use Turo to rent something cooler. Something WAY cooler.
Like, for example, a 2013 Jeep Wrangler pickup truck. Now, before you ask: No, this is not a factory thing. There are a couple of businesses out there that convert Wranglers into pickup trucks, and this is the result of one of those: The conversion was performed by a company called RubiTrux in North Carolina. This Wrangler started out its life as a normal 4-door Wrangler Unlimited, then RubiTrux got a hold of it and then BAM! Now it's an extended-cab pickup.
Anyway: I put about 450 miles on it last week, and I've decided that it's awesome.
There are three primary reasons why I've come to this conclusion. Reason number one might surprise you: because it's a convertible. You see, the "regular" Wrangler is a convertible, but it's also a soft top, and it has all these roll bars, and support beams, and plastic windows, and all sorts of stuff that makes it very clear it's a convertible.
Now, you probably think you'd lose the ability to drop the top when you're driving a Wrangler that's been turned into a pickup, but that isn't the case. This particular Wrangler pickup has a targa-style top, which is tremendously easy to remove provided you have a) massive arm strength and b) roughly 9 minutes. This isn't the kind of top you'd want off the car when you get stuck in a sudden downpour. But I'm glad it's there, because who doesn't like a good convertible?
The second reason why this thing is so cool is that it is, indeed, still a Jeep. It's hard to find a vehicle that's both a pickup truck and an off-roader, but this is that, in the sense that it can still perform off-road duties like any other Wrangler. You want to go up a hill? Done. You want to crush your old iPhone? Done. You want to roll over a wood-paneled PT Cruiser? You can probably do that, but I must say I didn't try. Although I very much wanted to.
But the Wrangler pickup isn't just cool because it's a convertible off-roader. The normal Wrangler is a convertible off-roader. The Wrangler pickup is cool because it's a convertible off-roader that's also a pickup truck. So you can take off the roof and have fun like with any convertible, or you can head off on the trails like with any Wrangler, or you can actually carry stuff around like with any pickup truck. And while I'm not sure about the exact payload capacity of this particular Wrangler pickup, I do know that its sizable bed is easily capable of hauling the three most common items carried by today's pickup trucks, which are:
- One single item from Home Depot.
- Trash other people threw back there while you were parked at Applebee's.
So basically, what we have here is a vehicle that's a pickup truck, and an SUV, and a convertible, and it does all three of those things rather well. Of course, as a bona fide automotive reviewer who once referred to his own vehicle as a "giant wheeled snail," I must also point out a few of the Jeep's drawbacks.
Like, for example, the fact that it doesn't have back seats. This will make it a bit too impractical for some people. With that said, I was thinking about this, and I decided that if you want back seats in this thing you're just a glutton. What, you want a vehicle that's a convertible, and an off-roader, and a pickup AND a family car? We all have to compromise somewhere -- and yes, that means you. What else do you want this thing to have? A helipad? A bonsai forest? A tropical fish tank stocked with those fish that look like they're always trying to kiss something?
The other drawback is the ride quality -- namely the fact that driving around in this truck is approximately as comfortable and relaxing as standing under an air-raid siren. In fairness to the Jeep pickup, however, I should mention two things. One, mine was lifted, which undoubtedly contributed to its on-road horribility. And two, this is how all Jeep Wranglers are -- not just pickup versions. Wrangler people put up with a lot of stuff to drive around in these things. They also wave at each other. Or, in the case of my pickup, they wave and stare intently as I pass by.
So I liked the Wrangler pickup, and I think you will, too. Fortunately, Jeep says they're soon going to be building one from the factory, and I think that's fantastic. But if you're one of those people who can't wait for the "real thing," there are a few converted Wrangler pickups -- like the one I drove -- on Autotrader. And if you play your cards right, and choose the right model, and reeeeealllly research your decision, you might find one that can carry both one single item from Home Depot and trash other people threw in back while you were parked at Applebee's.
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.