Mega Gallery: MotorTrend’s Best Jeep Adventures of the Decade

We’re big Jeep fans ‘round these parts. But these parts being MotorTrend’s urban Los Angeles HQ, there’s nary a speck of dirt nearby to let Jeeps do what they do best. Our fandom comes from the numerous off-road adventures we’ve taken in Jeeps, ranging between quick laps of our local off-road park to multi-day wilderness excursions. Through it all the Jeeps toughed it out, proving time and again why they’re some of the best off-roaders out there.

Jeep made big moves over the last decade. On the back of an industry-altering merger, it dove into new segments. It created the most powerful SUV ever. And, it reinvented its own icons. We covered it all, each occasion reminding us why Jeeping is so great. To recall those awesome memories, we rounded up the best Jeep adventures we took between 2010 and 2020. Check out those stories and photos below.

August 2011: Testing the 2012 Jeep Wrangler JK on the Rubicon Trail

At first glance, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler seemed the same as it ever was. A second look, however, showed a more civilized, comfortable interior. Peeking under the hood revealed a smaller but improved engine, one that shaved more than 3 seconds off the previous version’s 0-60 time.

And yet, off-road, the Wrangler stayed the same as it ever was—which is to say, awesome. We took it on California’s Rubicon Trail, where it rolled over massive boulders and through surprise water crossings with aplomb.

August 2013: Celebrating 10 Years of the Wrangler Rubicon Trim on the Rubicon

Back to the Rubicon Trail we went, this time with Jonny Lieberman at the wheel for a fresh episode of Ignition. His steed was a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition, built to celebrate a decade of Jeep’s trail-tuned version of the Wrangler.

As Jonny piloted his six-speed manual Rubicon over the Rubicon—doors and roof removed, natch—he ruminated on Jeep’s off-road heritage and why there’s hardly a better vehicle for taking on steep, technical, unpredictable terrain.

May 2015: Surprise and Delight as we Test the 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk in Moab

Around the middle of the decade the subcompact SUV segment was blooming, and Jeep jumped in with the Renegade. Its independent suspension, Italian origins, and front-wheel-drive-based platform made this little Jeeplet unlike the rigs we’d come to know and love. So where’d we test it? All over Moab.

While it clearly wasn’t a true boulder basher, in Trailhawk form it tackled Slickrock all day. Ultimately, we found the Renegade to possess those qualities that make Jeeping so great: “A driving challenge, good company, and going as far as the equipment will take you.”

July 2015: A Whole Year of Adventures in our Long-Term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

More than a Renegade, less than a Wrangler, the Cherokee was built to meet the mid-2010’s crossover craze. Being dirt enthusiasts, we added a 2014 Trailhawk model to our long-term test fleet. Did we adventure it? You bet we did.

During a year of multi-state road trips, mountaintop weekend jaunts, and tricky trail sessions, we racked up over 25,000 miles on our Cherokee Trailhawk. Despite some annoyances, we enjoyed this midsize Jeep, finding it equally comfortable and practical as its competitors, but far more capable when the pavement ended.

April 2016: The JK Wrangler Faces off Against Two Competitors in the Snow


Some semblance of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” was the thesis for our comparison between the Jeep Wrangler and two of its off-road rivals, the Mercedes-Benz G550 and Toyota Land Cruiser. Envisioning a hasty apocalyptic bugout, we drove the trio over tough mixed terrain to find out which would perform best when the gates of hell open.

The Wrangler breezed over rock and stayed well stuck on snow, but its manners weren’t matched against the others on paved surfaces. Wait, manners? In a Wrangler? We surmised that those issues would be addressed by the all-new, next-generation model, and found out firsthand not long after.

December 2017: Driving the New 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL in New Zealand

The arrival of a new Jeep Wrangler is always momentous. Not only is it an infrequent occurrence, but the newcomer must improve upon those Wranglers that preceded it. We ventured to the southern hemisphere to find out if the new JL-generation Wrangler could assume the mantle, and returned certain that it did.

After several days of trail torture, we were convinced Jeep successfully reinvented the icon. At the same time, it was more comfortable, refined, and feature-packed than ever. It all added up to make it “better in every way,” on- and off-road.

August 2018: Testing the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and 4 Other Super SUVs Near Area 51!

Our eyes popped when we learned that Jeep would stuff a Hellcat engine in the Grand Cherokee. Our jaws dropped when we drove it. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is, quite simply, the most powerful SUV ever created, cranking 707 hp out of its supercharged V-8.

Leading up to our Best Driver’s Car competition, we rounded up five super-sporty SUVs to find one to include. The Jeep Trackhawk didn’t make it, but we loved its thrilling acceleration and old-school character. Granted, this Jeep adventure focused on pavement more than dirt. Nonetheless we fondly remember the Trackhawk’s cackle-inducing power.

September 2018: Driving the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon on the Rubicon Trail

Back to the Rubicon Trail we went, this time to assess the toughest JL Wrangler variant on its 22-mile namesake. As expected the Jeep ate it up, even through some slight navigation errors. All the while we were surrounded by the trail’s lovely Sierra Nevada scenery, best enjoyed with all the Wrangler’s body panels removed.

November 2018: Testing the Jeep Wrangler and Two Other Off-Roaders in California’s Backcountry

Seeking any excuse for time in the Wrangler, we decided to redux our apocalyptic comparison test. This time the Jeep’s opponents were similarly new or updated, and we loaded up our camping gear and headed to California’s backcountry for some fresh air—and gnarly trails.

Days of rock and mud led to nights around the fire pit, where we discussed the merits of this Wrangler over its older versions. It was enhanced in so many ways—off- and on-road—that it beat out competition costing nearly three times as much.

November 2018: We name the Jeep Wrangler our 2019 MotorTrend SUV of the Year

MotorTrend SUV of the Year exists to determine the vehicle that best meets our six sacred criteria: Advancement in design, engineering excellence, performance of intended function, efficiency, safety, and value.

In 2019, there were SUVs quicker, more luxurious, and higher-tech than the Wrangler. Nonetheless, the Jeep’s dominance off-road was perfectly balanced against its other virtues, and it took home the golden calipers as a result. How we made that determination was an adventure in itself.

August 2019: Comparing the Jeep Gladiator to the Colorado ZR2 Bison and Tacoma TRD Pro on Mojave Road

Perhaps even more anticipated than the new Wrangler was the Jeep Gladiator. This truck-ified Wrangler variant promised to be just as capable, and we were determined to find out if that held true. To do so, we took it on an extreme desert trail test with two other off-road pickups.

Over hundreds of miles our view was filled with little but sand below and sky above—and the Gladiator’s bright red paint contrasting the desert tones. Although it didn’t win the test, we still found it full of the intrepid spirit and awesome capability Jeeps are known for.

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