2004.5 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
I'd been excitedly awaiting the opportunity to drive this new model for a year and a half. And when I first saw the "TJL" at Quantico, VA, in September of 2002, my good friend and 4WD mentor Mark Smith, a.k.a. "Mr. Jeep", called to tell me he was building a 4 x 4 course for the evaluation of military vehicles. Smith, who started Jeep trips across the legendary Rubicon Trail in 1952 and designed the Jeep Jamboree USA program, has built dozens of courses around the country, but this one was different. Since it was located within the Capital Beltway, the facility, complete with a rigorous 4WD course, allowed members of the Pentagon and Congress easy access to observe the newest vehicles, designed for military efforts and Homeland Security, put through their paces. Smith invited me to join, and after providing the necessary security clearance, I spent a day learning about some of the newest models and some of the latest technologies to come to this market. While many models proved capable and had technologies of interest, one stood out-the new long-wheelbased Wrangler-called the TJL.
Its dance card explained that the Jeep Wrangler TJL was a mix of modern automotive technology with some of the same attributes the troops valued in the original Willys MB. An up-to-date take on the original "go-anywhere, do-anything" utility vehicle, the new TJL was designed to meet the most challenging tasks that military vehicles are required to do, and perform in the most adverse conditions. Its first tour of duty- Egypt.