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U. S. Army officials saw a void in their transportation, a predicament that it wanted to address as it anticipated being thrust into World War II. The call went out for production of a four-wheel drive reconnaissance car that would help support the ground troops.

Willys-Overland Motors eventually began producing the Jeep in 1941 and its unveiling certainly didn’t go unnoticed. To prove its ability to tackle unusual terrain, Willys test driver Irving “Red” Haussman entertained a crowd of people one day by driving straight up the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

When asked the vehicle’s name by a curious bystander, Haussman replied – “It’s a Jeep.” There are several theories about how the Jeep originally got its name, but following Haussman’s declaration the name stuck for good.

Although many youngsters have become enamored with the Jeep at an early age, pulling the trigger to buy one as an adult could be deemed impractical. There is no disguising the Jeep’s real purpose. Despite efforts to make this an every-day vehicle, the 2011 Jeep Wrangler is clearly designed for the off-road crowd that wants some serious versatility.

And Jeep has certainly made that possible, producing a four-wheel drive vehicle that will do cool things like climb boulders, plod through the dust and mud, and go where other sensible car owners would never dare travel. Thanks in part to its 10.2 inches of ground clearance, a short wheelbase, and several other amenities, the Wrangler is a go-anywhere sport utility vehicle.

But what about the times when one is driving to the grocery store, commuting to work, or hauling the kids to activities – what happens then? If the off-road trips aren’t frequent, it makes little sense to purchase the Wrangler because as an every-day car it’s seriously lacking.

Some of the reasons the Jeep Wrangler doesn’t fill the void for every-day use include a nosy cabin, an engine that has been labeled “gutless,’ uncomfortable seating, safety issues with poor side-crash ratings, and a tippy feeling during tight turns. The negatives also include the tedious amount of time taken to get this quirky vehicle in the “convertible” mode that many Jeep owners prefer.

The Wrangler can be purchased in two-door and four-door configurations in its three trim models – Sport, Rubicon and Sahara.

Because it’s designed for the off-road enthusiast, it’s strange that the Wrangler doesn’t come with more power. The 3.8-liter, V6, with 202 horsepower clearly isn’t enough, clocked at 0-60 mph in a sluggish 9.7 seconds.

Jeep did address some of those issues in its 2011 model that comes with many interior changes. The instrument panel is new, the seats are revised, there are additional storage spaces, and a 115-volt outlet has been included.

Despite the classic rugged appearance, its historical significance, and some very good interior changes, the Jeep Wrangle is still not an appealing vehicle for mainstream drivers.

2011 JEEP WRANGLER

Performance: 3.8-liter V6, 202 horsepower
Mileage estimate: 17-21 mpg
Price: $22,045 to $33,320

Standard features include: 16-inch steel wheels; manual folding soft top; foglamps; tilt-only steering wheel; flip-and-fold removable rear seat; six-speaker sound system, CD player, auxiliary audio jack, steering wheel controls; antilock brakes; stability control; hill start assist

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