I’ve been asked if my Jeep Wrangler is a good winter vehicle more than once. I’ve come to understand that this might be a question many of you have. Although I own one and have my strong and unique opinion, I jumped into some of the common Jeep forums as well as looked through several online sources.
Are Jeep Wranglers good winter vehicles? In short, yes. It depends on your individual winter condition. Trust me, winter in Idaho is much different than winter in Southern California.
My perspective will be focused on the winters I experience in Idaho with snow, ice, mud, slush, rain, wind, and everything else a brutal Idaho winter can provide. However, I’ll also share my findings regarding why a Jeep Wrangler is an outstanding option for winters (if you can really call them that) in the likes of Southern California.
Are Jeep Wranglers good winter vehicles?
In short for my case in Idaho, yes. Even in the warmer mild winter climates like that of Southern California, I still stick to the yes. I’m here to share why in both of these two very different winters.
Jeep Wranglers in the snow, ice, rain, mud, sleet, slush, etc. are machines meant to get you from point A to point B. I can clearly see why the United States military invested in these machines for World War II. See the elements in the 1940’s were much more “rugged” than how we find them today. The military needed a vehicle that could handle all the conditions. In 1940, a year before World War II, the military ordered the Willy’s quad. This was the great-grandfather of today’s Jeep Wrangler. A vehicle that was designed to handle ANY terrain.
When it comes to winter here in Idaho, this is where I find my 2015 Jeep Wrangler JKU stands out:
- 4 Wheel Drive
- ABS Brakes
- Anti-Slip Control Button
- Tire Options
- Ground Clearance
I’ll dig into each one of these winter features related to the Idaho type winter.
4 Wheel Drive
4-wheel drive is a great feature on my Jeep Wrangler and it comes in handy. Just two years ago the Boise area here in Idaho experienced the most snow fall we have seen in the last 30 years. We even called it the “snowpocalypse”. The last winter I remember like this was in the 1980’s when I was a young teenager. I found myself pulling people out all day long on several days during the months of January and February. Everyone in a two-wheel drive car was stuck right in the neighborhood in front of their homes. Offices were closed for short periods of times, schools cancelled. I was even asked to work from home even though I could get to the office without any issues with the wintery weather.
While 4-wheel drive doesn’t help me stop any better in my Jeep, it does help it go and I was able to help others who slid off the road or got stuck along my way. Should I say, it was actually fun just showing my Jeep’s abilities, but maybe it was just my ego in the way as it made me feel “manly”.
ABS brakes are important in my Jeep Wrangler’s winter system. They work smoothly and efficiently to help me pump my brakes to stop on time with the right amount of room in case if any slippage or issues. While brakes alone don’t do the trick, my driving in winter weather for the last 31 years help. I’d take my experience over my Jeep’s capabilities, although I love them, any day.
Anti-slip Control Button
This might sound crazy, but I actually like the fact that I can turn on or off the auto slip controls on my Jeep Wrangler. When I want to play and control the slip, I click the button and cookies are on the menu. But hey, I’ve driven in these conditions for 3 decades, yes back in the day a kid got his/her license at age 14.
Jeep Wranglers have so many configuration options and tire options. For winter driving I really haven’t done anything special. In fact, my tires are still stock all-terrain. While I’m eager to upgrade and add some suspension features, I haven’t just yet. Soon though.
Stock ground clearance is a nice feature of the Jeep Wrangler. Being able to push through deep snow without any restriction really helps build the case for a Jeep Wrangler in the winter. The clearance also allows me to miss hitting bottom on curbs in parking lots that might not be visible on really snowy days.
What’s not so great in the Idaho winter and why
Shape. I find that the sleet, snow, ice sticks to both the front windshield and rear glass pretty good. Also, my headlights can get icy if I don’t turn them on all the time. This is a draw back from the design of a Jeep Wrangler. To overcome this issue, I keep my Jeep Wrangler clean and waxed with good quality wax. This alleviates some of this issue. Another add which I think would be nice would be heated seats and mirrors, but maybe the Rubicon or Sahara have them, not sure.
A with all cars, winter can be harsh on them and cause all sorts of issues, including frame rust on the Jeep Wrangler.
Southern California’s type winter – still a great ride.
A Jeep Wrangler is a great winter vehicle in mild weather conditions too, I think. For example, I run my Wrangler topless much of the Spring and Fall where temperatures in Idaho are typical Southern California winter temps. Having this option is nice. Also, for a Southern California type winter, I could run a soft-top on my Jeep Wrangler all year round. I don’t need the extra insulation to keep myself and my passengers warm. And the best part is my Jeep will still make it up into the hills for some great skiing or snowboarding with little to no effort.
A Fun Jeep Wrangler Snow Trick I Picked up on a Facebook Group
Using the rear rescue points or hitch in the winter. If you have some rope and a plastic table you don’t really care that much about, you can become the neighborhood hero when the snow is too deep to get to the main roads.
Here’s what I did. Take two even rope lengths of about 40 feet each and hook the middle of each length on the ball of your hitch. Turn the plastic Costco table on its side feet facing the Jeep Wrangler and tie the 4 ends of the rope to the table, 1 rope end to each leg. Then pull, you’ll find that you can shorten one side of the ropes to get the table to pull at an angle. You’ve now made yourself a homemade plow. Just don’t back up over it. The table is surely not going to survive.
Are Jeep Wranglers good winter vehicles? The answer is yes, and this article provides a summary of both my research and my personal experience as an owner of a Jeep Wrangler. It’s not just a great vehicle, its frankly the most fun I’ve ever had on the winter roads. If I ever head down to Disneyland in Southern California, I still have a rig I can enjoy by cranking the AC.
Do I drive a Jeep Wrangler differently on snow and ice?
Yep! Slow down, give yourself more space to slow and stop at all times, don’t follow people so close, pump your brakes lightly, and be safe.
Does 4 Wheel Drive help me stop on slick winter roads?
No. 4 Wheel Drive doesn’t help you stop any better than any other car or truck. In fact, your rig is heavier, and it might even take more room to stop on slick roads. So slow down and give yourself more space and time.
Should I buy a Jeep Wrangler for harsh and cold winter conditions?
I’ve never been in an environment where the weather is colder than -20 degrees Fahrenheit, so I can’t really attest to extreme cold. However, for a “typical” Idaho winter, I am very satisfied with my purchase of a Jeep Wrangler.