When I was eight years old and G.I. Joe was all the rage, my favorite vehicle of the Joe fleet was the multi-purpose attack vehicle, codenamed VAMP. It was a supped-up jeep that I dreamed of one day driving through the tough terrains of my suburban home. While the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Chief 4x4 came to our offices without the moveable twin .50-caliber machine guns, it did show up with all the fun and freedom I imagined as a kid.
With a Chief Clear-Coat coastal blue paint job and a white hardtop, it screamed beach day, so I decided to take the Jeep to the beaches of nearby San Pedro, Calif. But, before my 12-year-old daughter and I jumped into the front for our day of adventure, we decided the wind should be whipping through our hair (well, actually, just her's … I don't have much).
We easily popped out the separate front panels and then eyed the rear portion of the hardtop. After quickly detaching it from the body, I suddenly realized that the only two people in the house were myself and my daughter — not enough muscle to pull off the top and safely store it in my garage.
After reattaching the hardtop, we jumped in and made our way to the beach. The ample 3.6-liter V-6 gave us enough vroom to quickly get across the Vincent Thomas Bridge and to the beach in no time. The 2017 Chief had a solid ride and more cushion than I expected. While we didn't get much time to test out the four-wheel drive, it made it easily through the sandy parking lot of White Point Beach.
Driving around the curvy coastal roads of San Pedro and Palo Verdes was as easy breezy and the wind blowing through the front seat, and electronic stability control kept me at ease during some of the curvier parts.
While I didn't get any time in the mud with this free-wheeling 4x4, its BSW Off-Road tires and Dana heavy-duty rear axle/solid front axle combo were screaming for it. The sound system, which included an all-weather rear subwoofer flush with the rear cargo floor, pumped the perfect sunny day playlist.
All in all, this Jeep satisfied the kid in me, as well as the one sitting in the passenger seat, who is now four years away from asking me for a Jeep of her own.