Why People Are Crazy About Jeeps and Why You'd Be Crazy to Own One

White Shepherd and Jeep

Monica Garza Maldonado/istockphoto

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White Shepherd and Jeep
Monica Garza Maldonado/istockphoto

Owning Up

Jeeps have a long and illustrious history, with military roots dating back to World War II. Instantly recognizable, they are known for the legendary off-road capabilities that earned the brand its trademarked slogan "Go Anywhere. Do Anything." The vehicles also command brand loyalty that few other automakers could ever hope to match — but it's not all roses. Although Jeep owners, loyalists, and experts are far more willing to gush about what makes Jeeps an amazing ownership experience, they also point to a few drawbacks. Here's a look at the good and the bad of Jeeps from the people who own them, drive them, and study the industry. 

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Parts Are Everywhere

When Jeeps break down, need repairs, or go in for an overhaul, they won't have to go far or wait long to get the work done, says Mike Hallmark, sales and marketing manager of Hellwig Suspension Products, a manufacturer of American-made suspension parts for vehicles, including Jeeps. An expert off-roader, he's also a longtime Jeep owner — of a 1948 Jeep CJ2A, known informally around the world as the iconic Willys Jeep.

"One of the best things about owning a Jeep is that parts are abundant," Hallmark says. "Whether up-fitting your vehicle for off-road use or general vehicle maintenance, you will have no problem finding parts."  

Jeep Brusier Conversion
Jeep Brusier Conversion by Michel Curi (CC BY)

Jeeps Are Surprisingly Simple Machines

The relative simplicity of Jeep vehicles means owners can take on DIY projects that might scare off other car owners. This gives Jeep enthusiasts a level of intimacy with their vehicles that stokes the passion for the brand even further. "Especially the older models like the CJ2A," Hallmark says, "are not complicated vehicles to work or repair, meaning many enthusiasts do the work themselves." 

Posing with the Jeep in Playa del Carmen
Posing with the Jeep in Playa del Carmen by Christopher Rose (CC BY-NC)

Older Jeeps Are Small Enough to Transport

Serious off-roaders such as Hallmark sometimes transport their Jeeps instead of driving them to the site as a primary vehicle. Many high-mileage Jeeps make this a breeze with a slimmed-down size. "They are very inexpensive and easy to transport," Hallmark says. "You can even fit one in the back of a full-size truck." 

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Orange Jeep

When You Own a Jeep, You'll Meet Other 'Jeepers'

Few automakers can compare with the kinship felt by Jeep owners, known for being an enthusiastic and friendly bunch. "Without a doubt, the best part about owning a Jeep is the community," Hallmark says. "Fellow Jeepers wave to one another on the road and events like Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, attract Jeep owners from all over the world."  

Jeeps in Deep Snow

Jeeps Are All-Weather Warriors

Nick Galov is an author with WebTribunal.net, a site dedicated to the business of Web hosting. He says he's "been incredibly passionate about Jeeps" for his entire life, much of it having to do with Jeeps' legendary brawn. "Jeeps are incredibly powerful and can withstand any weather condition and terrain," Galov says. "Whether it's snow, rain, rock or sand, the Jeep will run without any significant issues. Plus, passengers inside the car can feel quite safe thanks to Jeeps' size and height."  


Jeeps Offer Excellent Value

It would be inaccurate to call Jeeps cheap, but the concept of overall value goes beyond the sticker price. "Although they are not the cheapest option to purchase initially, they are incredibly worth the price," Galov says. "All of them are made of high-endurance materials, which last long and require very little assistance. Some people have had Jeeps for years without having to invest virtually any money into the car."  

Jeep Wrangler 2010

Jeeps Have a Distinctive, Eye-Catching Look

Petar Ivanov is a marketing specialist at Auto-Data.net, which claims to offer the largest database of auto specifications on the internet. For him, it's simple: Jeeps can never be mistaken for any other vehicle either on or off the road. "The distinctive look of a Jeeps makes people feel more confident," Ivanov says. "They're big and stable. Through the years, Jeep has become an iconic, historic brand."  

Red Jeep

Jeeps Have Excellent Climate Control

High-end climate-control systems are a hallmark of posh luxury vehicles, but not so much rugged, off-road bruisers. Jeeps, on the other hand, break that mold. "A good feature of such type of car is their excellent AC and heating systems," Ivanov says. 

Blue Jeep

Jeeps Handle Surprisingly Well

Jeeps have long been famous for their power, durability, and ability to handle difficult terrain off-road. What many people don't know is that they're also incredibly driveable on-road vehicles. "While cornering, these vehicles are very stable and easy to handle in comparison with other vehicles from the same class," Ivanov says. "No matter what the weather is outside, you can feel quite safe in those cars."  

Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 2016

Jeeps Are Muscular Everyday Cars

As the director of marketing at Front Edge Publishing, Susan Stitt helps authors prepare book releases. She's also a recent convert to the cult of Jeep. Stitt says her daughter got a Jeep to pull the trailer she lives in as she travels the country as an entertainer. "I borrowed her car one day and was so impressed by the pickup of the engine. I had immediate Hemi envy. I sold my 1-year-old SUV and got a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I love it. I never worry about accelerating on the freeway. It pulls our recreational trailer with no trouble and handles all of my day-to-day-driving needs."  

Muddy Jeep

Jeeps Are Born for Off-Roading

From steep inclines and loose sand to big boulders and high water, Jeeps are known first and foremost for off-road prowess. "What makes Jeeps so great and why there is a cultlike following around them is because they are extremely capable off-road," says Katie White, a Jeep Wrangler Sahara owner and PR specialist who has worked with AutoNation dealerships such as Audi Peoria. "It's one of the few vehicles designed around off-road ability right from the factory." 

Red Jeep

Jeeps Let You See the Layout of the Road

Writer Beverly Willett is the author of "Disassembly Required: A Memoir of Midlife Resurrection." She's been driving Jeeps for decades, in large part for an elevated vantage point. "I love sitting up high," Willett says. "It gives me a better view of the road and the reckless drivers around me I seem to see more and more of."  

Road to Lyons
Road to Lyons by Bugeater (CC BY-NC)

Accidents Happen, and Jeeps Are Survivors

Much of Willett's loyalty to the Jeep brand has to do with highway safety. She credits the fact that she's alive to her trusty Jeep Liberty — from a time she was driving through an intersection and a Lexus came out of nowhere at high speed, ran a red light, sheared off the front of the Jeep and spun her around and around in the middle of the intersection. She says she was pretty bruised and banged up, "but I feel that Jeep, built like a tank, saved my life."  

Customized Jeep

Jeeps Are Highly Customizable

Jeep lovers also fawn over what Ivanov calls a "high customization level," which lets owners make their vehicles unique and all their own. Lisamarie Monaco, an independent life insurance agent with Pinnacle Quote, agrees. "You can customize your Jeep with sexy gadgets to fit your lifestyle and personality," says Monaco, a St. Augustine, Florida, resident who has owned a 2011 Jeep Liberty, a 2014 Wrangler, and a 2018 Renegade. "I love the rugged feel of the Jeep. I love taking my Jeep on the beach."

Katie White likes that there's "a ton of aftermarket support for them. Owners can get anything from mild lifts to full-blown rock crawlers and everything in between," finding a major selling point in "the ability to make your Jeep yours and as capable as you'd like." 

Chicago Auto Show 2010 (76)
Chicago Auto Show 2010 (76) by Aaron & Alli Merrell (CC BY)

Customization Isn't Cheap

It's much easier to get people to say nice things about Jeeps than anything negative, but there are some drawbacks — among them that the customizing owners love can turn quickly into a wallet-draining expense. "The only reason you would be crazy to buy one is it is a costly vehicle to own if you decide to customize it," Monaco says.  

Jeeps Aren't Designed For Long Road Trips

Jeeps Aren't Designed for Long Road Trips

Like many Jeep enthusiasts, Monaco was hard-pressed to come up with drawbacks. "I had to dig deep for a bad side to owning a Jeep," she says. "The only bad thing I think will be if you do long-distance traveling."

Ivanov agreed. "Jeep is specialized in truck manufacturing," he says. "Traveling with their civil vehicles sometimes is not so comfortable, especially for long trips."  

Jeep Cherokee Sport

Size Can Be a Drawback

Ground clearance is a crucial component of off-road capability, and Jeeps have plenty of it. That feature, however, can impede some drivers and passengers from climbing in and out. "Although it looks massive and impressive, the size has its negative side," Ivanov says. "Due to the big ground clearance, sometimes it could be quite difficult to enter the vehicle."  

Orange Jeep

Jeeps Are Loud

Powerful, rugged, and reliable, Jeeps are not delicate vehicles. One of the tradeoffs for their legendary capability is that they're simply not quiet, either on the road or off. "A big disadvantage of those cars is the noise," Ivanov says. "That is very irritating for both the driver and passengers."

Gas station

Jeeps Aren't Winning Any Fuel Economy Awards

Owning a Jeep is undeniably fun, but the lifestyle demands frequent stops at the pump. "An important issue for every car is fuel consumption," Ivanov says. "Jeep vehicles are not economical at all. Being huge and heavy, they cannot offer the fuel economy of ordinary sedans or hatchbacks."

Galov agrees. "One of the drawbacks of Jeeps is their fuel consumption," he says. "Compared to other smaller and weaker cars, Jeeps can use twice as much fuel. They especially use much more fuel in the city than on the open road. However, it remains one of the most reliable, safe and fun vehicles to own." 

White Jeep
Andrei Stanescu/istockphoto

Sometimes, Customization Is a Necessity

While most Jeep add-ons and upgrades are made out of choice, modification is more of a necessity for some. "Various Jeep platforms are underpowered and may not drive well on the highway without needing upgrades," Hallmark says. He recommended sway bars, like the kind sold by Hellwig, as one of the first modifications.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: Corporate (CC BY-ND)

Jeeps Often Have Some Problem Parts

Differentials are the mechanism that allows a pair of wheels to move at different speeds. The ones that come standard in Jeeps from the factory are known as troublesome. "Stock differentials are weak and expensive to replace," Hallmark says.

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