in 2008 I had to choose what off road capable car I want as company car with a limited budget. I have to say that at the moment I am living in a gulf country, which means gas mileage is of NO concern. And I had the choice between US, European, Korean and Japanese cars ...
So my criteria were :
OFF ROAD :4WD, low gear and skid plates and no air- or hydraulic suspension!
small family : 3 persons only ...
daily driver : engine and performance fun factor
And after test driving a used Nissan Pathfinder (2006) (under budget) and a brand new Grand Cherokee laredo (slightly over budget), both with 6 cylinders in the 4.0L class I was pleased ... very pleased with the KK :
The Nissan actually felt like a pick up, not just a truck ... the engine was powerful, but rough and the suspension in turns and on the highway scary!
The Grand Cherokee Laredo with the 3.7 was clearly underpowered. And does not really seem to be "desert" capable, because of clearance limitations. The nice 4wd drive in the Grand seemed to be wasted there.
THE KK : clearly more responsive than the Grand with the same engine, MORE clearance than the Grand ... and MUCH MORE COMFORT than the Pathfinder ... highway trips with cruise control and 160km/h do not make you sweat and you still can have a conversation (~3000 rpm).
All other alternatives : European : Over Budget and overloaded with sensitive "features", not really off road capable ... nowadays I even do not see a quality advantage!!! (I have spent some time in Germany!)
Toyota : Over budget, or only 4 cylinders ... and BORING.
Ford : Explorer engine wise comparable ... but too long, heavy and ugly ... and not really "desert" capable. Escape ... 3.0L and no low gear
The KK : It is a soft Jeep(!), not a soft SUV ... With SelectTrac 2, the higher compression version of the actual wrangler engine (more power and torque), and the square look I LOVE IT till now.
It was my first Jeep ... I was so pleased, that I went for a well maintained TJ 65th (built END 2006,one of the last!) as second (private) car. My wife is using it as DD in the week and I am having fun with it on the weekends.
The roughness of the car is minor in relation to the fun factor we gain!
(Hey : Did you know that the so called Death Wobble IS NOT a typical Jeep problem? Nissans and other trucks have it as well ... IT ALWAYS CAN BE FIXED, it is no magic : balanced tires, tight joints, AND THE RIGHT CASTER AND TOE IN!)