Comfort had been issue

And while every Jeep nearly lived up to its long-built reputation for off-road prowess, its interiors lacked the comfort and completeness it should have. The plastic was hard, the features sparse. Roughing it may come into play in the wilderness, but it shouldn't on your commute to work or grocery getting, or cruising along on the highway. We're a spoiled bunch nowadays and for most of us, roughing it is when the cable goes out during a lightning storm.

So the interior was rebuilt with a new instrument panel, new seats and a much cleaner look with upgrades in materials and fit and finish.

The work pays dividends.

There are new comfort features, such as heated seats, and cosmetic additions, such as new instrument gauges. There are also new storage spaces and a lockable center console, which is handy when the top is down (taking the cloth top down is still difficult, though; it requires two people and a good five minutes to unzip, unsnap and pop out the different brackets and holders).

Other new features, such as the 115-volt outlet, was a true Godsend during the trip as every camera in Utah needs to be recharged often because everywhere you turn is another postcard shot.

The combination of practicality and sophistication bodes well with the Unlimited.

The current U-Connect system, which Jeep will upgrade to the next generation in the coming years, is still behind other competitors. The USB connection mounts on the face of the stereo instead of in a more reasonable location, such as the center console or the base of the center stack. Additionally, the Unlimited I tested could not play music directly off my iPhone4. I had to plug the USB cable into the phone and then run an auxiliary cable from the phone to the stereo. It makes the front of the stereo in the Jeep look like the back of my stereo at home, which no one should have to look at.

So is the interior improved? Absolutely. It just feels cleaner, well built and complete. And while it will easily carry four adults comfortably to the opera or other city activity, the Unlimited felt more at home with its interior covered in red dust. And if you don't need the second row for people, the seats fold up nicely and create 86.75 cubic feet of storage space.

    See also:

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