If you’ve ever planned an off-roading excursion, you may have consulted trail guides, travel websites, and enthusiast forums to map out a path. The problem is, paper guides are most certainly out of date even by the time they go to print, and some sites may not be updated. In the last decade, apps like Trails Offroad have come to the rescue with community-driven input to keep the trail maps current.
Using that app, Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts can download trail maps onto portable tablets, which they then mount somewhere in the cabin. Then they follow the carefully curated instructions. Jeep took that a step further with its new Adventure Guides, which is a feature that lets Wrangler owners download and follow those trail maps right on the dashboard itself with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, now standard across the board in all vehicles.
Let’s take a look at how this works for off-roading enthusiasts.
Adventure Guides incorporates the information from Trails Offroad, which Jeep senior brand manager Brandon Girmus says is the best source for off-roading information. Trails are rated from one to 10, with one being the least difficult and 10 being the most. There are also notes available in-app that includes concerns drivers might encounter, like “chance of pinstriping,” which means your vehicle’s paint job will likely be altered by the scraping of branches and foliage surrounding the trail. Some guides also include history about that particular trail and the surrounding area.
Altogether, Adventure Guides includes 62 Jeep “Badge of Honor” trails like the Rubicon Trail in California, Hell’s Revenge in Utah, and Jericho Mountain in New Hampshire. A $39.99 premium subscription is also available to unlock Trails Offroad’s full catalog of 3,000-plus trail guides.
“Whenever we touch Wrangler, we go to our enthusiasts and customers and find out what they want,” Girmus told PopSci. “Plus, we observe at places like Easter Jeep Safari and we noticed a lot of Jeep drivers using tablets. We reach out to Jeep owners all the time, and one of the things they said they wanted more of is help planning and mapping off-road trails.”
The guides are downloadable into the vehicle’s head unit, or infotainment system, making it accessible even if the Wrangler is out of cell phone range.
Trail guidance even for newbies
For someone new to the Wrangler ownership experience, routing an off-roading plan can be a little daunting. How to pick a trail, how challenging they want the trail to be, and how long it is are all key factors in determining what is going to work best. And no one wants to go blindly into a situation where they’ll get stuck or find themselves in a dangerous spot.
Girmus says the new touchscreen isn’t about winning the size race. Stellantis, Jeep’s parent company, is well known for its UConnect infotainment system. Additionally, they are standardizing the 12.3-inch screen with digital trail guides specifically for Wrangler drivers.
“This is technology with a purpose,” Girmus asserts. “We didn’t put a larger screen into Wrangler just because we wanted a larger screen. Everything we touch and do to the Wrangler goes back to its purpose and mission, which is first and foremost to be the ultimate off-road machine.”
To prep the car itself for the unpredictable terrains of off-roading, in 2024, Jeep is offering a variety of trim levels for its gas-only and plug-in hybrid 4xe models. As a testament that off-roading can be environmentally friendly, but still enjoyable, the Wrangler 4xe in particular has been wildly successful for the brand; it was America’s best-selling plug-in hybrid in 2022. Offering 21 miles of all-electric range, the Jeep 4xe makes for a quiet ride in the wilderness, as opposed to the loud 392.
For prospective buyers, entry-level Wranglers start at $33,690 (powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four engine) and goes up to nearly $90K for the Wrangler 392, which includes a roaring 6.3-liter V8. And there’s a variant for just about every preference in-between. No matter what you’re looking for in a ride, Jeep’s trail digitization beckons for adventure.