EXTERIOR

The Wrangler Unlimited is definitely a fun vehicle to look at, and I like to think that other people wished they had as fun a car as I did. Well, for a week anyway. This SUV has a distinctive look, with squared-off edges, and I loved the Rescue Green Metallic paint of my test SUV. It was bright and fun without being overly trendy or weird.

However, the Wrangler Unlimited isn't the easiest SUV to live with because it takes effort to make it work well. The doors don't prop open because they're only held on to the body with nylon straps, so watch where you park this SUV if your kids like to throw car doors open.

It's also hard for shorter ones to climb in with ease. Yes, my Wrangler Unlimited had the standard tubular side steps, aka running boards, but let's face it, the Jeep is made to have some serious ground clearance of at least 10.2 inches. Three-year-olds will struggle to get in this SUV. My kids, who are 6 and 8, actually had the hardest time pushing the button on the outside door handle. Once they mastered it, they liked everything about the Wrangler Unlimited.

It was so good that the kids never complained one iota about going anywhere. They hopped in as soon as I asked them to and were excited to go. That's worth something, isn't it?

One more thing that contributed to their vehicular bliss was the Wrangler Unlimited's Freedom Top. The Freedom Top is a set of three roof panels that you can remove to bring the outside in. There are two panels over the front seat and one large panel over the back seat and cargo area. I liked the versatility of the panels; they let in more light and air than a sunroof but didn't take too long to remove or replace when the elements got too crazy. This feature helped the Jeep shine as a premier fun machine.

In addition to the Freedom Top, my test Jeep came with a soft-top, which was redesigned for the 2010 model year and supposedly easier to remove than before. I didn't remove the soft-top because I didn't have a Torx wrench.

In addition to the removable roof, the doors are also removable, and the windshield can be folded down. While I didn't get to removing and folding, I did note that it would be easy to do. It's pretty amazing how versatile the Jeep is, and I wish I'd had it for a longer test to completely transform it.

The Wrangler Unlimited has a 205-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine. A six-speed manual is standard. My test SUV had the available four-speed automatic ($825). The Wrangler Unlimited takes regular gas and gets 15/19 mpg city/highway with either transmission.

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