If you’ve ever owned a Jeep Wrangler or Wrangler Unlimited, you understand the simple joy of go-anywhere, topless motoring. As entertaining as the Wrangler is, owners soon learn that there are two types of convertible tops: those that are quick and easy to install and remove, and those that offer good weather protection.
Jeep’s own hard top is impressively weather tight, but installing it requires two people and a fair amount of patience, as least the first few times you do it. Ditto for Jeep’s soft top, which is still mostly weather proof, but doesn’t exactly come off or install with ease, at least compared to the convertible tops of other vehicles.
Enter the Rugged Ridge PowerTop, a hydraulically-operated power folding top that’s just hitting the market after being announced last year. Available only for 2007-12 Wrangler Unlimited models (so far, anyway), the PowerTop promises to deliver open-air entertainment at the press of a button.
Rugged Ridge says the top can be unlatched and fully retracted in “well under” 20 seconds, which is actually less time than it takes to drop the power folding top on something like a Nissan 370Z convertible. We assume that the time to deploy the top is similar, although the manufacturer didn’t provide specifics.
To ensure that the company retains a high level of quality control, the initial deliveries of PowerTops will need to be installed by an authorized service center. Longer-term, Rugged Ridge believes the kit can be installed by anyone with mechanical ability and the right tools, in about six hours.
Each kit contains an American-made, OEM-grade fabric top with a tinted 30mil vinyl rear window, a mounting frame, the hydraulic system and the wiring harness. Future kits will come with detailed installation instructions on DVD, and each kit is backed by a three-year warranty covering material defects.
The PowerTop is priced at $4,999.99, excluding installation, and will likely increase the fun-factor of your Wrangler Unlimited exponentially. We’d suggest you increase the sunscreen budget, too, since we suspect that you’ll spend a lot more time driving with the top down.
Want more information on the PowerTop? Head on over to the Drive Offroad website for complete details.