MANILA, Philippines — We love freedom.
Although there is no absolute freedom. Freedom from work, freedom from sickness, freedom from taxes, freedom from debt. It’s all part of growing up.
Which makes the ability to enjoy freedom – when and where we want it – essential.
No wonder so many people see vehicles as their enablers of freedom. It’s that irresistible adventure inspired by the original Jeep that drove many automakers to create SUVs of all shapes and sizes.
But few SUVs can truly match the legendary one Jeep Wrangler— the iconic vehicle that has conquered every terrain, from the war-torn battlefields of World War II to the unforgiving deserts of the Sahara to the winding landscapes of the Rubicon Trail. It’s more than ready to let Filipinos play on lahar beds, cross rivers, venture into the forest, drive to the beach, or simply conquer the concrete jungle (including the occasional flooded street).
Still, we need to be a little more careful as we venture into this pandemic. Thankfully, I managed to find two safe activities that let me enjoy the Jeep Wrangler’s performance and features while basking in the invigorating outdoors.
Living in the northern part of Metro Manila, my first activity was a surprisingly short drive to the very accessible La Mesa Eco Park near Fairview, Quezon City.
This public park covers an area of 33 hectares and is located along the natural boundary of the La Mesa Watershed Reservation. Among the activities that can be done are hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rappelling, ziplining, bird watching and fishing. You can also go on a paddle boat trip in the lagoon or visit the orchidarium.
While external bike racks would have been more ideal, mounting a mountain bike inside the Wrangler proved a breeze, thanks to the versatile folding rear seats and large rear cargo area. You’ll still have plenty of room for other outdoor gear and more snacks than you can swallow for an afternoon of nature.
I wish the park had a vehicle trail where I can put the trail-rated Wrangler with its strong steel frame and chassis, tall fenders, and big 33-inch all-terrain tires to good use. I would definitely be closer to nature with the removable doors and roof (Freedom Top hardtop, for the win!).
Jumping into the spacious and functional interior even if you are sweaty and muddy is no problem because the interior is washable! But despite this great feature, you’ll still enjoy refined materials and premium build quality. Wrangler’s seats are designed to offer comfort and support when you’re out looking for adventure.
Backing out of the La Mesa Eco Park parking lot and merging with busy traffic on Commonwealth Avenue was a breeze thanks to advanced features like the Blind Spot Monitoring system and ParkSense Rear Park Assist. The ParkView rear back-up camera works with Jeep’s Uconnect 7-inch touchscreen to assist you when shifting into reverse. The ParkView Rear Back Up system features a high-definition camera with dynamic grids that show the direction so you can maneuver into tight spaces with complete confidence.
Rear Cross Path Detection, on the other hand, monitors cars and objects crossing behind when you reverse and warns you via audio signals and visual icons. Your weekday coffees and weekend trips will be much more fun and stress-free.
The short drive to La Mesa Eco Park made me want to spend even more time behind the wheel of the Wrangler. The next day, I planned a golf trip with my buddies to Ayala Greenfield Golf & Leisure Club in Barangay Puting Lupa, Calamba, Laguna, about 80 km from Quezon City.
Built in 2005 by world-renowned golf architect Robert Trent Jones, this 18-hole championship golf course is a popular golf destination for Metro Manilans due to its picturesque surroundings highlighted by breathtaking views of the Tagaytay Ridge, Laguna de Bay, and of course, the majestic Mount Makiling.
The two and a half hour drive was made more relaxing thanks to the Wrangler’s voice command, Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. The large touch screen is very responsive and the interface wonderfully intuitive and user-friendly. Available Bluetooth lets you make calls or stream music or podcasts wirelessly from your smartphone.
Driving the Wrangler on the C5 and SLEX was a breeze. Despite its considerable size, its handling and steering are almost as light and responsive as a sedan. Driving comfort is another pleasant surprise. Unlike many large SUVs, there’s no painful jolt when the Wrangler hits a bump or pothole.
The Wrangler is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo gas engine that pumps out a hefty 270 hp and a massive 400 Nm of torque, giving it enough grunt for challenging trails or hauling a jet ski or powerboat. It has an available best-in-class towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. Balancing all this muscle is Engine Stop-Start technology to maximize fuel economy in traffic.
You can even customize your Wrangler with a P170,000 accessory package that includes a 2-inch lift kit, 7-inch round LED headlights, and 4-inch fog lights with daytime running lights (DRLs).
The Jeep Wrangler easily lives up to its legendary 80-year Jeep heritage. After all these years and despite so many new SUVs on the market, it’s still in a class of its own – on or off the road. It is the true spirit of freedom and adventure. No other vehicle on earth can truly let you be you, anytime, anywhere.
Experience true freedom and adventure by checking out—or better yet, test driving—the Wrangler at your nearest Jeep dealer.