A Jeep Wrangler was the vehicle where I really learned how to drive a stick shift. Back then, the Wrangler had a floor mounted shifter. Much has changed in 20 years, but the differences just make this Jeep more appealing. If you really like shifting gears, like I do, you’ll be in awe of the 6-speed manual transmission, a new for 2005 feature. It’s a great switch from the five-speed manual of the past model year. There’s nothing quite like taking the Jeep Wranger Sport (a short wheelbase model) from a dead stop and shifting through the gears. As a Trial Rated 4WD vehicle, the lower gears are especially primed for off-road (think hill climbs and descents). But for roadway movements, I generally skipped first gear completely and started in second, third, and – just for fun – from 4th gear. On the muscle side, the standard powerplant is a 4.0-liter Power Tech I-6 that produces 160 horsepower at 4600 rpm and 235 pounds-feet of peak torque at 3200 rpm.

Wrangler Sport is not a vehicle to pack in friends and family. The back seat could accommodate an adult, maybe two smaller sized adults, but first a rider needs to do some major body twists in order to reach the back seat via squeezing between the front seats. I bring up this point only because a potential buyer should be more focused on having a great go-anywhere vehicle . . . for one or two people. Jeep Wrangler Sport (at least with the soft top) is not a quiet vehicle, either, nor is the ride akin to skating on glass. Yet, the vehicle is hard to resist. It’s a really fun drive and ride. Turn up the volume and listen to the audio via a new 7-speaker sound system that puts speakers on the rollbar. And, there are two new exterior colors, including the wickedly cool Impact Orange. Mileage estimates are 15 city/19 highway. MSRP for Jeep Wrangler Sport 4WD is $23,140.