I Went Off-Roading in the New 2024 Jeep Wrangler, and It Blew My Mind

I went off-roading in the 2024 Jeep Wrangler in St. George, Utah. It has made a lifechanging impression on me, and now I want one of my own.

Off-Roading In The 2024 Jeep Wrangler In Utah Was An Epic Experience For Me. Photo: Jill Robbins
Off-roading in the 2024 Jeep Wrangler in Utah was an epic experience for me.Credit: Jill Robbins

I’ve never entirely understood why Jeep owners were so crazy about their Jeeps.

I mean…I like my car, but I don’t consider being a Hyundai owner to be part of my identity. What I drive isn’t something I share during the first 10 minutes of meeting someone new. Nothing against Jeeps or Jeep owners, but the going on and on about things was always something I found to be a little eye-rolly.

And then, I drove one of the new Gladiators shortly after they popped onto the market in 2021. Then, I understood what the hype was about, or at least I thought I did then.

Fast forward about two more years. I visited St. George, Utah, to preview the 2024 Jeep Wrangler. I’ll give all the spoilers up front: now I really get it. I get why Jeep owners love their Jeeps so much, and the reason the information has finally gelled for me is that I did with the Wrangler what Wranglers are built to do.

Related: Having Fun with the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe

That'S Me, Off-Roading In The 2024 Jeep Wrangler! Photo: Jill Ciminello

That’s me, off-roading in the 2024 Jeep Wrangler! Photo: Jill Ciminello

I Understand Jeep Love Now

Yeah, Jeeps are cool-looking and stylish, and some of the models are even comfortable, functional family cars. Versatility is important. But the Wrangler was designed with the red rocks in Utah in mind. Until I got behind the wheel and crawled up these rocks and inched down these rocks, I didn’t get the importance of letting a Wrangler be a Wrangler and how that’s such an essential piece of the puzzle that explains the deep love Jeep owners have for their Jeeps.

I had been off-roading twice before I drove the 2024 Jeep Wrangler in Utah. Once as an off-road driving course in the Texas Hill Country with a compact crossover vehicle that was fun but little more than taking a car off the paved road. The second was a muddy adventure in a UTV that took place in Cody, Wyoming, about a month before my trip to Utah with Jeep. The UTV trek in Cody ranks high on my list of fun experiences I’d raise my hand to repeat.

The 2024 Jeep Wrangler Showed Me Why Jeep Owners Regard Their Vehicles So Highly. Photo: Jill Robbins

The 2024 Jeep Wrangler showed me why Jeep owners regard their vehicles so highly. Photo: Jill Robbins

Was I Nervous? Yes.

But, driving a brand-new Jeep that did not belong to me up a massive cluster of boulders? I can’t say that was ever a bucket-list item for me, and the closer we got to our afternoon off-road section, the more nervous I became about the experience.

I sat down and spoke with the Jeep representative, my coach, and my drive partner, Brandon Girmus, the Jeep Wrangler Senior Brand Manager. He gave me the basics of off-roading before we set out to Sand Hollow State Park, which is a mixture of red rock and sand that would put the Wrangler through its paces.

I Was A Little Nervous Before We Began Our Dusty Off-Road Adventure In The 2024 Jeep Wrangler. Photo: Jill Robbins

I was a little nervous before we began our dusty off-road adventure in the 2024 Jeep Wrangler. Photo: Jill Robbins

The Jeep Wrangler Will Do All the Work

When I asked Brandon what his most critical piece of advice was for a newbie off-roader and he had this to say: “Go slow. Let the vehicle crawl at a slow pace, maximize ground clearance and keep a tire on the highest point and maintain momentum.”

He explained that while my instinct might be to steer around a large obstacle, such as a boulder in the road, the Jeep Wrangler was made to navigate such obstacles. He also stressed the importance of following the instructions of our trail guides, who would be out on the course to help direct us.

“The Wrangler will do most of the work,” Brandon assured me. “You’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Wrangler Off-Roading In Utah.

We had a blast with the 2024 Jeep Wrangler off-roading in Utah. Photo: Jill Robbins

The Ultimate Outdoor Classroom

The Jeep experience is unlike any other, so I took time to learn about Jeep’s Trail Rating system before I set out. Not all Jeeps are trail rated, but all of the Jeep lineup has at least one trail-rated model. You can tell whether or not a Jeep is trail-rated by the vehicle’s exterior badge. The 2024 Wranglers have trail-rated badges on both the driver and passenger sides. The dual trail-rated badges are new.

The five attributes of trail rating are:

Articulation

The measures of how far a suspension system travels vertically to keep all four wheels on the ground in order to have maximum control. 

Ground Clearance

The distance between the bottom of a vehicle to the ground underneath it. 

Traction

A measure of the vehicle’s ability to maintain its grip on the road and climb uphill.

Water Fording

The ability to go through a stream or river and to take in water without damaging electrical or mechanical systems.

Maneuverability

The ability to navigate rugged terrain, such as switchbacks, while maintaining control of the Jeep.

We took our Jeep through four out of the five attributes on our off-road course. There was no water fording in the dry Utah desert, but we put the Wrangler through the rest of its paces.

We Learned Everything About Trail Ratings In The 2024 Jeep Wrangler.

We learned everything about trail ratings in the 2024 Jeep Wrangler. Photo: Jill Robbins.

Trail Rating – Visual and Hands-on Learning

Although I had some working knowledge of the trail rating system before I went on the trails in the Wrangler, having Brandon along to explain the different attributes was a very practical lesson. He’d wave me over to look at a tire and show me how that was an excellent example of articulation. It was so much better than reading a manual, and it brought everything together for me.

Brandon and I sat down and talked before our off-road trek, and I took lots of notes, but it didn’t come together for me until I saw everything in action, so if this sounds a little bit like a foreign language to you, don’t get frustrated. It made so much more sense seeing things in action which makes you appreciate how clever the engineering is on these babies.

I Stepped Way Out Of My Comfort Zone When I Went Off-Roading In The 2024 Jeep Wrangler.

I stepped way out of my comfort zone when I went off-roading in the Wrangler. Photo: Jeep

Why Do People Do This?

I live in the suburbs. There’s a crossover and a minivan in my driveway. I enjoy outdoor recreation with my family, hiking and exploring the state parks here in Texas and other national and state parks as part of our travels. So far, our exploring has consisted of parking our car at the trailhead and exploring on foot, which there’s nothing wrong with. Other than the two times I mentioned, it hasn’t really occurred to me to seek out driving somewhere besides a paved road.

Some people choose off-roading for the adrenaline surge or to challenge themselves. I don’t consider myself an adrenaline seeker, although the off-roading was certainly a thrilling rush. I didn’t know I needed that level of excitement and challenge in my life, but apparently, I do. My trek in the UTV in Wyoming was a pretty profoundly positive experience, and that, combined with my newfound love of off-roading, has shown me that these activities are clearing a path for me – both figuratively and literally – to do something different and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.

Outside My Comfort Zone… and It’s Good

And, yes, this experience did push me beyond my comfort zone. Not drastically, in an extreme anxiety-inducing way, but in a “Let’s try something new” kind of way that is important in the season of life I’m in. Not getting too comfortable or too stagnant is a way to stay young, sharp and not lose my sense of fun and adventure.

On my drive in Utah, we’d approach a couple of gnarly hills or piles of rocks, and I’d watch the Jeeps ahead of me navigating them. I would turn to Brandon and say, “Can I really do that?”

It turns out I can.

For Those Wanting A Smaller Carbon Footprint, The Trails Beckon With The 2024 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe. Photo: Jill Ciminillo

For those wanting a smaller carbon footprint, the trails beckon with the 2024 Jeep Wrangler 4xE. Photo: Jill Ciminillo

Off-Roading in Electric Mode

I was in and out of several 2024 Jeep Wranglers during my quick trip to St. George, Utah, including taking the Rubicon out for a two-hour drive on paved roads.

The Hydro Blue Wrangler I drove off-road at Sand Hollow State Park is a hybrid 4xe model – pronounced Four-By-E. For anyone wanting a greener drive, the 4xe has an all-electric range of 21 miles and is a much quieter drive.

We chose to do the off-road course in all-electric mode. I don’t have another experience to compare it to, and we shared our course with about ten other Jeeps on the day we drove, so I can’t really say it was quiet, but I like the idea of leaving a smaller carbon footprint when exploring the outdoors on four wheels.

Off-Roading + EVs Go Together Like Peas and Carrots

The idea of rugged off-road driving being done in full electric mode surprised me, but off-roading is actually quite suited to EVs. Navigating rocks and ruts is generally slow driving. If you’re crawling rocks slowly, you can get several hours of enjoyment from electric mode, and if you need to, it’s easy to switch to gas-powered driving.

Related: Let’s Talk about the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4Xe

The Jeep Adventure Guide Provided Tons Of Navigational Information On My Wrangler Odyssey. Photo: Jill Robbins

The Jeep Adventure Guide provided tons of navigational information on my Wrangler odyssey. Photo: Jill Robbins

The New Jeep Adventure Guide

Jeep has made it easy for drivers to find places to play and to make off-roading more accessible. When it comes to finding a trail near me, I wouldn’t know where to start, but Jeep has removed that guesswork for new owners. The new Jeep Adventure guide is by Trails Offroad, a membership-based platform that provides mapping and trail information to offroad and overlanding enthusiasts.

Purchase a 2024 Jeep Wrangler and get interactive guides to 200 trails for 24 months. There’s also an add-on subscription available for an extra fee that gives you access to 3,000 additional trails.

Displayed on the 12.3-inch high-resolution screen, the comprehensive trail guide system allows you to assess a trail’s difficulty rating and get details on what types of obstacles you’ll encounter and waypoints along the route. This is a case of Jeep responding to what owners want. Most off-roaders use trail software on a tablet mounted to the dash. Jeep has made this a seamless part of the Jeep’s interior.

This user-friendly platform integrates maps and cameras and allows you to take on off-roading confidently, which is especially important for someone new to the sport.

I Was Able To Take The 2024 Jeep Wrangler On And Off-Road, And Saw How Easy The Car Transitions To Each Type Of Terrain.

I was able to take the Wrangler on and off-road and saw how easily the car transitions to each type of terrain. Photo: Jill Robbins

Other Driving Impressions

I did about two hours of road driving with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in downtown St. George and through Snow Canyon State Park before going on my offroad adventure. I had a chance to assess the comfort levels and ease of everyday driving – because as much as I might wish all of my driving experiences involved rock crawling, that’s not practical.

The horizontal dashboard, wrapped instrument panel, and functional center console provided the space and functionality that I’d need for day-to-day driving. I don’t think it’s possible to forget you’re driving a Wrangler when you’re driving a Wrangler, but the interior is a nice contrast of comfort and refinement. I might not care about how comfortable my seat is when I’m trying to navigate an obstacle, but if I’m picking my kids up from school or sitting in traffic, I care. This works on so many levels.

Another standout feature is the stealth antenna which is built into the front windshield. While this is designed for ease in off-roading more than in-town driving, I like where the technology is going here.

This Is A Jeep Winching Demo And Not An Actual Rescue, But It Shows Its Capability, And Reinforces Trail Safety By Off-Roading With Others. Photo: Jill Robbins

This is a Jeep winching demo and not an actual rescue, but it shows vehicle capability and reinforces trail safety through the buddy system. Photo: Jill Robbins

Advice for First-Time Off-Roading

Go with another vehicle, preferably driven by someone who knows what they’re doing and can get you out of a tight spot if needed. Use whatever tools you have available to you to determine a safe and appropriate route to take. If you’re not lucky enough to drive one of the 2024 Jeep Wranglers with the onboard Adventure Guide, there are other ways to access trail mapping software and research the conditions you plan to drive in.

Go with an open mind. I set out to have fun, tell a good story, and not die or crash. I ended up loving it, wanting to immediately go again and buy a Jeep so that I could. I’ve always loved the outdoors, and navigating the wild in a Jeep opens up some new places I can’t get to with just my feet or another sort of vehicle.

Not everything is for everyone, but this is worth trying to see if it is for you. I recommend checking out Jeep Jamboree for an overview of trips and forums you can join to learn more about off-roading. Our trail guides were from Jeep Jamboree, and they were the perfect balance of making sure we had fun and stayed safe. They are a big part of what makes me want a repeat.

I Want One – I Really Mean It This Time

And I may have said, “Ooh, I want one” in 2021, but I really mean it now. My husband and I have even had the “How do we afford this?” conversation, and I’ve put out feelers in my community for a used Wrangler. I don’t think my spouse is as entirely on board as I am – after all, he did not navigate the red rocks of Utah, although he probably feels like he was there from the three gazillion times I’ve mentioned how cool it was – but I’m peppering everyday conversations with “When we get our Jeep” just to keep planting that seed.

I know Jeep people love their Jeeps, but if you hear about anyone who is looking to pass theirs on, holler. 

Disclosure: I was a guest of Jeep for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

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Jill is the oldest mom with the youngest kids pretty much everywhere she goes. She has a 29-year-old daughter... More about Jill Robbins

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