November 2010 Issue of 4×4 Magazine
This month’s cover is rather a sad one. Yes, it does show off our beloved long-term Jeep Wrangler doing what it does best, demonstrating its prowess off-road, taking on the experts in the world of off-road club trialing. As you’ll read on page 56, our regular correspondent, and relative trials novice, Toby Savage had a great time and marvelled at the abilities of our lifted Jeep with its fat mud terrains but, sadly, this is the last time you will see the much-loved Wrangler ‘XUH4’ that has been with the magazine for over two years.
All good vehicle loans have to come to an end, but, in this case, it was rather unexpected as Chrysler decommissioned the Wrangler from the fleet, so it was suddenly called back. All the mods that 4×4 Magazine had fitted have probably now been removed and our highly capable Jeep is now in the hands of a dealer who may have no idea of its previous triumphs abroad and in the UK.
The reason the Wrangler went back so suddenly was the takeover of Chrysler by Fiat. As of 1st September, Jeep no longer had control over or access to press vehicles and the fleet was put under review with the new bosses.
So Fiat is now firmly in control. We have no idea when we will be next able to get hold of Jeeps to test, or modify on a long-term basis, as the magazine has previously done over many years, but we do know that the range is being reviewed and can only watch and wait.
Fiat has a decent foot in the 4×4 world with its excellent budget Panda Cross – a favourite here at 4×4 – so we hope the bosses in Italy retain the iconic status of Jeep and don’t ‘dumb down the range’, so to speak.
There is a new Cherokee on the way, although you cannot order the current model at the moment, and we know that the brand new Grand Cherokee, as launched in the US and on show at the Paris Motor Show (see news p15), will be here next year sometime. These are worrying times for the Jeep brand in the off-roading world and we sincerely hope that the Wrangler continues to grace vehicle showrooms in the UK, and doesn’t just become a sought-after secondhand favourite.
One place you really don’t find Jeeps is Iceland. Although they call all 4x4s ‘Jeeps’ there, you don’t actually see the real thing. It’s all Japanese 4x4s and some Land Rovers. A year ago the magazine took a three-day trip with Arctic Trucks in the ‘Top Gear’ Hilux, driving across glaciers and marvelling at the incredible landscape. A year later, we spend a day with Iceland Rovers in a Land Rover Defender 110 ‘Super Jeep’ in an attempt to get up close to the notorious volcano that brought European airspace to a standstill. Our team drove in the same areas as we did a year ago, but the difference in the landscape was amazing. It was remarkably different in places – as you can see from these pics.
The touring companies in Iceland were helping scientists and government officials to get to the eruption sites as their ‘Jeeps’ were the only vehicles capable of doing so. Everything has now calmed down, but Iceland will never be the same again. The tour companies are offering trips to customers and we recommend that you take advantage while the currency exchange is still in the UK’s favour and Iceland’s struggling economy means its former high prices are no longer a disincentive. Read our adventure and book a flight. We can’t recommend the experience highly enough.