It began with the oppressive Saturday afternoon St Andrew summer heat. According to the weather reports, thermometers would be climbing to triple digit, not that it wasn’t obvious. There wasn’t a cloud over the Corporate Area as far as my eyes could see, until I looked to the hills. Soft fluffy white ones marked out respite from the sun, but how to get there. The answer lay in my driveway, the new Jeep Wrangler.
In mere minutes the Wrangler was prepped for an off-road excursion to the cool hills above St Andrew. A few clips and the front section of the roof was off. Included tools did the rest, stripping this SUV of its front doors and freeing the windshield to drop and stay on the bonnet. It may have appeared counter-intuitive to have done all this on a vehicle loaded with comforts like dual-zone climate control, but the decision proved its worth as the journey began through Manor Park.
Already iconic, the Jeep drew even more attention in its current configuration. People smiled or pointed in delight at the near skeletal frame. The 270bhp turbocharged four-cylinder and smooth shifts from the eight-speed automatic kept airflow through the cabin. At lights, the automatic start/stop function did its job to help fuel efficiency. Waiting with the engine off allowed even more enjoyment of tunes being delivered via USB to the eight-speaker sound system, while my phone, connected through Bluetooth awaited any calls.
As the Wrangler climbed up the roads behind Waterworks leading to our eventual destination the temperature began to fall. The breeze making its way in and out of the door-less, windshield-less cabin started to displace the heat below us, to the point where one didn’t need to look at the readout on the 7-inch screen in the instrument cluster.
Soon attention shifted to the surroundings. Somehow the greens were greener, the birds sang louder and the freshness of the fauna around had some extra punch in the Jeep. A quick glance through the door frame to my right saw the hot misery of Kingston I was escaping. To the left, the Technicolour greatness of Mother Nature was evident, as having no door meant I could see from valley low to mountain high. I’d been this route many times before, it never had this clarity in any other vehicle.
The Wrangler passing through the small settlements brought just as much attention as it did in Kingston, but it went both ways as the facets of a rural Saturday afternoon reached past the missing doors to me. Then the proverbial road ended, necessitating the engagement of 4×4 mode with a masculine tug on the second stick next to that of the automatic transmission by the driver.
There was no change other than the indicator lights. As if the road surface was still paved, the Wrangler lacked no grip whatever on the narrow off-road track. The Jeep continued its steady climb over loose rocks, around treacherous off-camber hairpins, massive ruts and past walls of vegetation. Then the path widened, and we had to stop.
We’d reached, exiting the Jeep to a view of Kingston. For a moment I wondered how many people were down there, stuck in the heat, like I was or had the solution in the form of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler. Food and drink were quickly removed from the ample storage and I sat taking in the cooler climate and the visual splendour the trek in the Wrangler provided.
The hours past too quickly, and it was time to leave. The only thing better than getting there was leaving. Flipping on the Jeep’s LED headlights made it easy to further enjoy the sparkling city lights as the sky turned to dark as the Jeep headed down back to Kingston.