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Motoring

Enjoying the great outdoors with the Jeep Wrangler

Enzo O. De Los Reyes - Philstar.com
Enjoying the great outdoors with the Jeep Wrangler
Few SUVs can truly match the legendary Jeep Wrangler—the iconic vehicle that has conquered every terrain, from war-torn battlefields of WWII to the unforgiving deserts of the Sahara to the tortuous landscape of the Rubicon Trail.
Philstar.com/Enzo O. De Los Reyes

MANILA, Philippines — We love freedom.

Even if there is no absolute freedom. Freedom from work, freedom from illness, freedom from taxes, freedom from debt. It’s all part of adulting.

Which makes the ability to enjoy freedom—when and where we want to have it—essential.

No wonder so many people see vehicles as their enabler of freedom. It’s that irresistible call of adventure inspired by the original Jeep that led many carmakers to create SUVs in all shapes and sizes.

But few SUVs can truly match the legendary Jeep Wrangler—the iconic vehicle that has conquered every terrain, from war-torn battlefields of WWII to the unforgiving deserts of the Sahara to the tortuous landscape of the Rubicon Trail. It’s more than ready to let Filipinos play on lahar beds, cross rivers, venture into the woods, drive to the beach, or just simply conquer the concrete jungle (including the occasional flooded street).

Still, we need to be a bit more prudent when venturing out in this pandemic. Thankfully, I managed to find two safe activities that let me enjoy the performance and features of the Jeep Wrangler while basking in the invigorating outdoors.

Living in the northern part of Metro Manila, my first activity was a surprisingly short drive to the very accessible La Mesa Eco Park near Fairview, Quezon City.

Covering an area of 33 hectares, this public park is located along the natural boundary of the La Mesa Watershed Reservation. Among the activities that can be done are hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rappelling, ziplining, birdwatching and fishing. One can also go on a paddle boat ride in the lagoon or visit the orchidarium.

While external bike racks would have been more ideal, fitting a mountain bike inside the Wrangler proved to be a cinch, thanks to the versatile folding rear seats and sizable rear cargo area. You’ll still have a lot of space for other outdoor gear and more snacks than you can devour for an afternoon of nature-bonding.      

I wish the park had a trail for vehicles where I can put the trail-rated Wrangler with its strong steel frame and chassis, high-clearance fender flares and big 33-inch off-road tires to good use. I would definitely be closer to nature with the removable doors and roof (Freedom Top hardtop, for the win!).

Hopping inside the spacious and functional interior even if you’re all sweaty and muddy is no problem as the interior is washable! But despite this great feature, you’ll still revel in refined materials and premium build quality. The Wrangler’s seats are designed to offer comfort and support while you’re out seeking adventure.

Backing out of La Mesa Eco Park’s parking lot and merging onto busy traffic on Commonwealth Avenue was a breeze thanks to advanced features like Blind Spot Monitoring system and ParkSense Rear Park Assist. ParkView Rear Back Up Camera works with Jeep’s Uconnect 7-inch touchscreen to help guide you when you shift into reverse. The ParkView Rear Back Up system has a high-resolution camera with dynamic gridlines that show the direction so you can maneuver into tight spaces with full confidence.

Rear Cross Path Detection, on the other hand, monitors cars and objects crossing behind when you’re backing up and alerts you via audible chimes and visual icons. Your weekday coffee runs and weekend road trips will be much more enjoyable and stress-free.

The short drive to La Mesa Eco Park made me want to spend even more time behind the wheel of the Wrangler. The next day, I planned a golf trip with my buddies to the Ayala Greenfield Golf & Leisure Club in Barangay Puting Lupa, Calamba, Laguna, roughly 80km from Quezon City.

Built in 2005 by world-famous golf architect Robert Trent Jones, this 18-hole championship golf course is a popular golf destination for Metro Manilans because of its picturesque surroundings highlighted by a breathtaking views of Tagaytay Ridge, Laguna de Bay, and of course, the majestic Mount Makiling.

The two and a half hour drive was made more relaxing thanks to the Wrangler’s Voice Command, Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. The big touchscreen is very responsive and the interface delightfully intuitive and user-friendly. Available Bluetooth allows you to make calls or stream music or podcasts wirelessly from your smartphone. 

Driving the Wrangler on C5 and SLEX was a breeze. Despite its substantial size, its handling and steering are almost as light and responsive as a sedan’s. Riding comfort is yet another delightful surprise. Unlike many big SUVs, there are no painful jolts when the Wrangler hits a bump or pothole.

The Wrangler is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo gas engine pumping out a hearty 270hp and a whopping 400Nm of torque, giving it enough grunt for challenging trails or hauling a jetski or speedboat. It boasts an available best-in-class 3,500-pound towing capacity. Balancing all that muscle is Engine Stop-Start technology to maximize fuel economy in traffic.

You can even personalize your Wrangler with a P170,000 accessories package that includes a 2-inch lift kit, 7-inch round LED headlamps, and 4-inch foglamps with daytime running lights (DRLs).

The Jeep Wrangler readily lives up to its legendary 80 years of Jeep heritage. After all these years and despite so many new SUVs on the market, it’s still in a class of its own—on or off the road. That’s the true spirit of freedom and adventure. No other vehicle on earth can truly let you be you, whenever and wherever.

Experience true freedom and adventure by checking out—or better yet, test driving—the Wrangler at your nearest Jeep dealer.

JEEP

JEEP WRANGLER

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