Is there a formula for customer satisfaction? It’s a strange part of the automotive industry, in particular. People regularly buy objectively bad vehicles, like horribly uncomfortable sports cars, ridiculous off-roaders, or excessively fancy cars that rarely work. That is not so interesting on its own, but what is interesting is how often people love their cars that obviously suck. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler, which scored a 29/100 on Consumer Reports, is one such vehicle that kinda sucks but whose owners can’t help but love them.
What makes us love our cars?
Consumer Reports makes a fascinating observation of all their polls and studies; the thing that tends to make customers satisfied is less about how good the vehicle is and more to do with if the thing does what it promises to do. For instance, a Prius is crazy boring, but it promises great fuel-economy and delivers. Because of this people are generally satisfied with them. The same goes for Jeep Wranglers but in the opposite direction.
Even though modern Jeeps aren’t very comfortable, good on gas, advanced, or reliable, people still buy them and love them. I’m not judging; I owned a Jeep Wrangler for 11 years and loved every loud, uncomfortable, and inconvenient second of it. I think people love them because the Jeep doesn’t promise you anything other than a great off-roader that you have always wanted when you buy a Wrangler – and Jeep delivers on that simple promise in spades.
Is the 2021 Jeep Wrangler a good SUV?
Not really, no. But who cares? Consumer Reports does, but most regular people don’t. It is bizare and even a little cult-y, but there is also something a little heartwarming there — the Jeep Wrangler gets to be bad because people don’t really care; they just like it. The only thing it does well objectively is tearing ass off-road. While that is awesome, it’s hard to believe so many people still are willing to pay anywhere from $30k-$50k for what is essentially a go-cart with air conditioning.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler scores poorly in almost every category. The predicted reliability is a two out of 5 based on the track record of previous Jeeps struggling with a myriad of issues. From around 2011 to 2019, the Wrangler struggled nearly across the board. So far, though, the 2020 models seem to be doing much better. Either these models aren’t old enough to be having the same issues, or maybe Jeep fixed something?
Are Jeep Wranglers comfortable?
Nope. This is hardly Jeep’s fault, though. It is really tough to make something that is actually great off-road and comfortable. The body of frame construction, solid axels, heavy-duty springs and shocks, and taller ground clearance is a recipe for a jarring and bumpy ride.
Now, one way in which Jeep has made the Wrangler more liveable is by adding the four-door model back when it introduced the JK series. This was not super popular for the initiated Jeepster, but this did open the market to folks who didn’t want to deal with the hassles of a tall, two-door SUV. Although, this required the Wrangler to get bigger. The longer wheelbase and wider frame aren’t ideal for off-roading, but it didn’t change things too much. (don’t tell my Jeep friends I said that)
The good, the bad, and the ugly
I find people’s enduring, unconditional love for the Wrangler indearing. If you see a fellow Wrangler owner on the road or trail (Let’s be honest, most are on the road these days), there is a sense of understanding. With the growing popularity of the line, the demographics have shifted from mostly beardy, outdoorsy types to literally everyone.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Wrangler with run-flats and 22-inch wheels roaming the mall parking lot or one that only goes to the coffee shop and little league games; you know something about the person driving it. They could have had something more comfortable and practical, but instead, they got a Jeep. Why? Because that is how they see themselves. Good, bad, or ugly, they will love their Jeep because they love the idea of having a Jeep. Simple as that.