I drive a soft-top Jeep Wrangler. My European girlfriend wants me to trade in the Jeep for something more masculine and mature. This is the first time a woman has questioned my wheels, and I'm not happy about it. I like my Jeep and I plan to keep it. What's her problem?
- Jeep Jam
Please tell me you're not still sporting a mustache and too-short cut-off shorts. Tell your girlfriend to look at the upside: as long as you're driving that thing, no other women will chase you.
Not everyone who drives a Jeep believes life is one big Juicy Fruit advertisement, in which passengers regularly leap from topless Wranglers and burst into spontaneous rounds of Frisbee and games of beach volleyball. The deluded still dwell among us, but thankfully most motorists realize you can't splash on Jeep's "Eau de Campfire" cologne, pull up at the beach, and expect bikini-clad women to magically appear.
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On a serious note, once you get past the stereotypes, everyone knows how much fun a Jeep can be. They're a fantastic and inexpensive way to access remote areas of this great country. Have you ever taken your girlfriend off-road and let her drive? Pack a picnic and travel along the logging roads to find a spot to fish and camp with her. It may be all that's required to change her opinion. Barring that, there are Jeep clubs across the country in which she could explore off-roading with other women.
Jeeps, like many technological advances, were born out of military conflict. They served the U.S. Army and Allies well in the Second World War. Without the Jeep's off-road capabilities, hundreds of thousands of troops would have been rendered motionless in the fight against tyranny and oppression. These vehicles are truly part of our history. It's hard to dispute the masculinity of a World War II vehicle. Although the modern Jeep may be a distant relative of that original, it still retains the basic DNA. With 60 years to perfect the product, today's version - despite what purists will say - is far superior to the original product.
The high ground clearance of a Wrangler makes it ideal for off-roading. All of those hill-climb video clips featuring Jeeps tumbling end over end and winding up back on all four wheels are a testament to the ruggedness of the Jeep chassis and its roll bar system. If hill-climbing is not your girlfriend's idea of a good time, a Jeep is also great for rambling down unpaved country lanes en route to the cottage or the cabin.
As far as masculinity goes, a Wrangler is a unisex vehicle, albeit one that's a bit confused. It's a convertible-class mini-SUV, which simply means it offers something for everyone. However, if you're past middle-age, your Jeep may be the poor-man's version of a midlife crisis vehicle. When I see an older gentleman driving a Wrangler, I prefer to assume that one of his children couldn't make their lease payments.
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If you were driving a white soft-top Geo Tracker with a pink swoosh down the side, I'd be tempted to side with your girlfriend. She might also have a valid point if you were driving a Volkswagen Cabriolet or a Mazda Miata. If you were driving around shirtless wearing gold chains and jean-shorts, I would also question your sensibility.
If your Jeep stays clean and is only city-driven, as an automotive columnist who leans to green I must agree with your girlfriend. What SUV, for that matter, really thrives in an urban setting? It's not as though you have limited choices for fun, eco-friendly vehicles. Have you considered a fuel-efficient diesel, or a hybrid vehicle?
If you really want to keep your Jeep but your European girlfriend insists that you change vehicles, maybe you should wrangle her back to the airport. But all joking aside, do listen when she tells you to lose the mustache and cut-off shorts.