The Jeep Wave, MPGs, and a Culture at Risk

Kyle Battis from, captured the essence of Jeep culture with the “Jeep wave” that is now at risk due to government fuel efficiency standards that is changing the beloved Jeep Wrangler for the worse.

In 2012 the Obama Administration implemented standards that increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025.

I’ve owned six Jeeps since high school, and didn’t get passionate about the culture until I owned my first Wrangler in 2010. After experiencing my first Jeep wave, I was hooked. The Jeep wave is a ritual that is believed to have existed since some time after World War II, it is a part of the culture that creates a sense of belonging that you quickly realize you really miss long after your Jeep Wrangler is gone.


As I sold that Jeep and moved on to another model (Grand Cherokee), I really missed the iconic Wrangler. I still got an occasional wave, but not like I did in my old YJ (95’ Jeep Wrangler), so I was in the market for another. In 2012, I picked up a four door Jeep Wrangler unlimited (JKU). It met the needs as a Wrangler owner, but also allowed me to fit the kids and their massive car seats.

One thing I quickly noticed was that this Jeep consisted of much more plastic than my older Wrangler, had more gears to shift through, and had a rather gutless 3.8-liter minivan motor. While I built this up for off-roading, each future model is forced to be engineered to meet strict standards and be lighter getting rid of things that make it a desirable off-roader (there were viscous rumors that they were getting rid of solid axles! What?!?!). In addition, as they evolve to have even more similar features to minivans, the appeal to soccer moms for transporting kids in a lighter fuel efficient Jeep will increase, and the Jeep cultural norms developed since WWII will decline one Starbucks espresso at a time.

I’ve noticed that majority of the newer Jeepers (latest model Wranglers), do not wave as often or wave at all!


Will the iconic Wrangler rituals that create such a sense of belonging die or will Chrysler find a loophole in the law and continue to develop truly off-road worthy vehicles without sacrificing the Wranglers core values?

I’ve gone back to driving an older model (2005 Jeep Wrangler TJ) to stay true to the Jeep culture…more metal, more waves, more fun!

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