The humble jeep is something of an unlikely vehicle to have become a cultural phenomenon – and yet eighty years after the vehicle was first developed during WWII, the company which now bears its name is still producing innovative, intriguing and stylish jeeps and SUVs today. The original Jeep has even inspired other auto manufacturers, who have then gone on to produce their own version of the classic vehicle, such as the Suzuki Jimny, while without the original jeep, today’s SUVs might not even exist.
Jeep, the company, was founded in 1943 but didn’t build its first civilian vehicle until 1945. Now owned by motoring giant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Jeep models they produce are still some of the best available if you really like exploring off the beaten track and off-road. And modern Jeep cars are packed full of extra features to make driving one of them more enjoyable, more comfortable and even a little bit safer.
Not that these extra features are always obvious at first glance. Often you have to go hunting to find them, like the Easter eggs which are hidden away in video games and movies; but it is well worth the effort to take advantage of innovative work done by the designers at Jeep, as the list below illustrates. Enjoy the article folks!
17 Hidden Storage Spaces
Too many drivers make the mistake of looking at the interior of a Jeep vehicle and assuming that they can see all their storage space. Not so; as we have already seen, Jeep designers like to use every last square inch of space when it comes to storage in their vehicles, and there are always some secret places where items which you might not need to have on hand can be stowed during the journey.
There are storage spaces underneath the floor in the back of several Jeep models – the perfect space perhaps for items that you hope you might not need at all, like a first aid kit.
16 Underseat Lock Box
Lots of Jeeps are convertibles, with either soft or hard tops which can be taken down when the weather allows. No-one wants to have to put the roof back up every time they stop for a drink or to stretch their legs, but these vehicles seem to a be a magnet for car thieves, which must see the convertible roof and low sides as an easy target.
While the glove compartment and central console in many Jeeps both lock, they are also an obvious place to stash your valuables; however, a lock box secreted underneath one of the seats is not going to be so tempting to a car thief!
15 Floor Drains
Any car that gets taken off-road is going to get up pretty dirty – inside and out. Running boards along the sides of many Jeep-style vehicles may scrape off the worst of the mud, but the simple fact is that a lot of much is going to get tacked into the interior.
Where some cars have carpet, the Jeep Wrangler goes for the much more cleaning-friendly option of rubber mats; and what many drivers may not even realize is that they can also clean the floor of their vehicles with a hose, as there is a drain in the base of the vehicle, which lets the dirty water just flow out onto the ground.
14 Grab Handles
There are even some features that can help drivers and passengers when they are actually out in the great outdoors too. Not only does that floor drain come in handy if you have to clean the mud out of your Jeep, but it is also very useful if you have to drive through a stream or some particularly deep and wet mud!
Grab handles are also a must, especially if you are planning to customize your off-roading Jeep by removing the doors. The Jeep Wrangler has grab handles affixed to the A-pillar of the bodywork, although many serious off-roaders usually put in a few extra ones just to be on the safe side…
13 Rear Cross Path Detection
Like the blind spot monitoring system mentioned earlier in this list, the rear cross detection which is installed in several Jeep vehicles is another safety device which is designed to help drivers out of a particularly tricky spot; in this case, how to reverse safely out of a parking spot when you don’t have anyone to tell you whether to coast is clear!
Rear cross detection uses a similar system to blind spot monitoring to detect if vehicles are approaching from either side when you start to reverse, and will soon warn you to slam on the brakes and when it is safe to proceed.
12 Automatic Unlocking
Another hidden feature which is commonly available on many Jeep vehicles is automatic unlocking – which is actually nowhere near as insecure as it sounds and can actually come in very useful if you have a lot of kits to carry.
Rather than having to insert a key into the lock, or press a button on a key fob, automatic unlocking simply detects when the key is close to the door, and promptly unlocks when you pull on the handle. While there have been cases where such systems have been hacked, the scare stories are a few and far between, and automatic unlocking cars are generally popular with drivers.
11 Heated Steering Wheel
Is there any part of the vehicle that the boffins at Jeep haven’t added some heat too? As if heated side windows weren’t useful enough, and heated seats weren’t luxurious enough, you can even get yourself a vehicle with a heated steering wheel – for those really cold winter mornings.
This might seem like an indulgent luxury until you consider the danger that could be posed by someone driving a car when their hands are cold and wet, and unable to make the minor adjustments sometimes needed to keep a car under control, especially when driving on uneven or wet road surfaces.
10 Hill Start Assist
Hill starts can be one of the trickiest maneuvers to master when learning to drive, so it really is kind of motor engineers to come with a gadget to help motorists get moving when they’re parked on a slope – another extra that probably comes in handy when outdoor enthusiasts take their Jeep into the mountains!
Hill start assist works by giving you some extra time to get moving, by stopping the car from rolling forwards or backward for about 2.5 seconds after the car is started. That may not sound like long, but it does buy you enough time to get the vehicle safely under control and underway.
9 Tire Pressure Monitoring
For any driver, tire pressure is important to ensure that their vehicle is performing properly, but this becomes even more important when you are taking it off-road, as the uneven and uncertain conditions under the tires make it vital that the pressure is at the right level.
Rather than having to get out and keep checking the pressure in your tires, the Jeep Wrangler has sensors fitted in its tires which constantly monitor their performance, and if the pressure starts to fall, the system alerts the driver that action needs to be taken, ensuring a ride that is as smooth as it can be when off-roading!
8 Heated Side Mirrors
It has to be said that a few of these special features would be useless to anyone who spends their winters in California, but a godsend to anyone who lives in the Midwest or the north-east between October and February; although plenty of Californians like to take their Jeeps up into the hills, where it can get surprisingly cool.
Heated side mirrors, however, have winter driving written all over them. Not only do they save you having to scrape them clear before you set off, but they will keep your mirrors completely ice and frost free throughout the morning commute.
7 Folding Windscreen
From an Easter egg that would be more use at Christmas to one that is all about summer driving. The original Jeeps, after all, rarely came with roofs or even side windows, and windshields were considered something of a luxury. In that same spirit, on many modern Jeep models, you can fold the windshield down, and drive with the wind blowing through your hair.
It may take a few minutes, and a couple of tools to get the windshield away from the frame – and the same to put it back again – but it is well worth the effort for a sunny day’s driving off-road.
6 Trailer Sway Control
Jeeps are great for towing, and while that initially may have come in handier when they were pulling other vehicles out of tough spots, there is nothing to say that drivers cannot use their vehicle to tow camping gear, bikes or boats when they take their Jeep away for the weekend.
Driving while towing takes some getting used to, as the slightest gust of wind can move your trailer and affect the handling of the vehicle. Luckily, many Jeeps have trailer sway control installed, which detects and responds to these movements and helps keep you on the straight and narrow.
5 Matching Tow Hooks
Of course, if you are going to be towing trailers you will need to get a proper tow hitch fitted to your Jeep; don’t rely on the tow hooks which come as standard, as they are only to be used for pulling friends’ vehicles out of the mud, not for traveling at speed on the highway! If you don’t take your Jeep off-road, you might not ever use these tow hooks, but they are quite a nice design touch, as they usually come in the same color as the bodywork.
Many people who customize their jeeps use these tow hooks to create a splash of color in the otherwise monochrome fender.
4 Blind Spot Monitoring
Blind spot monitoring isn’t an extra feature peculiar to Jeep vehicles; in fact, many new cars, SUVs, and trucks are coming with this technology either as standard or as an optional extra. Every driver knows the difficulties of trying to keep an eye on your blind spot while also focusing on the road ahead, but blind spot monitoring does this job for you, using radar housed in the rear headlights to detect other vehicles and sound a warning if anyone gets too close.
Although as we have seen with so-called driverless cars, there is no replacement sometimes for good old human eyesight and reactions!
3 Remote Connection
Seeing as everyone is glued to their smartphones these days anyway, it seems that many car manufacturers have decided to develop apps that help motorists to manage and monitor their vehicles remotely. We are not quite yet at the point where we can use our cell phone to summon our car to drive to us by itself, but Jeep’s remote connection system does have some pretty nifty features.
Called the SiriusXM Guardian, it allows you to lock and unlock your vehicle, summon roadside assistance remotely and even set off the horn and lights when you get an alert that all might not be well with your vehicle.
2 Trail Rail System
The bespoke remote connection system is far from the only proprietary technology and design which Jeep employ in their vehicles. As well as the mechanical features under the hood, there are also a few hidden surprises throughout the vehicle which are designed to make it easier to use, wherever you take it.
The Trail Rail system, for example, which is housed in the Jeep Wrangler’s cargo space is ideal for drivers who need to carry larger items, as it can help to hold objects safely in position, no matter how bumpy the road gets, and is optional on several Wrangler models.
1 Extra Utility Grid
Jeeps are not always known for being the roomiest of vehicles, so it is important that no space is wasted when it comes to using the interior for storage. The Jeep Utility Grid helps drivers to use some unconventional parts of the vehicle for storage, by creating areas where tough, weatherproof bags can be affixed throughout the interior, particularly on the backs of seats.
A great place to stash things you might need to get your hands on in a hurry, these bags can be detached and carried with you during the day if necessary, before slotting back into place when you return to the car.
Sources - Jeep, Car Buzz, Buy A Car, Top Speed, NICB