Jeep Sh*ts the (River) Bed Again


I’m ashamed to own a Jeep Wrangler 4xe

By Kirk Deeter

As an owner of a Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid, I’m disgusted, disappointed and disheartened. Oh, the vehicle itself is alright, I guess. I like my dealership and the service department there also.

My problem is that the parent company is apparently so disconnected from the outdoors and what outdoorsy people really do, what they appreciate, and what infuriates them, that Jeep continues to run ad campaigns with their vehicles plowing through rivers. Anybody who fishes, or kayaks, or canoes, or just plain appreciates clean rivers, wouldn’t think to do something so harmful to a river.

I had a good friend send me this latest example, a Jeep clearly plowing straight upstream through the middle of a river, and I was aghast to realize I had bought a similar version of that vehicle a year and a half ago. After all the 4xe is supposed to be friendlier to the environment!

And to a certain degree it is. Here’s my (mostly positive) experience with the 4xe: The electric range is really about 23 miles, and almost nothing at all in very cold temperatures, which isn’t much, unless you do 90 percent of your driving in a 10 mile radius (which I do). So I consider my Jeep a glorified golf cart as a grocery getter, for running about town, etc., and that’s all I need. Ninety percent of my driving is now electric, and I feel good about that.

At long range, it reverts to a 4-cylinder gas engine with surprisingly little pep considering it gets (in my case) about 14 miles to the gallon. In hybrid mode, it does its best, optimizing fuel efficiency. And it’s a real Jeep in terms of suspension and 4-wheel capability… in bad weather or on approved roads and trails! I love how it pulls a drift boat (right to the ramp at river’s edge) and I especially like having the option of cranking the motor in remote locations—I’m not ready to trust a full-on EV out in the middle of nowhere.

I came to think of my Jeep 4xe as a “Jeep with a conscience.”

And then I see this. And it makes me wonder if that conscience really exists, or if I’m just a sucker.

Jeep isn’t the only company to run vehicles through rivers, but it does seem to be one of the few repeat offenders that hasn’t learned or listened. Trout Unlimited reached out to Jeep on this issue several years ago, obviously to no avail.

Conversely, I called out Ford for running its new Bronco through rivers a few years back, and within days I got a response vowing to amend the campaign. What’s more, these days Ford Bronco, as a brand, is doing some very cool things with the fishing community and has engaged fishing ambassadors to help their efforts. Anyone who knows fly fishing and Ford knows that there’s genuine personal passion for fly fishing in that company, starting at the top. The fly-fishing community recognizes and appreciates that.

Nissan made the same river plowing mistake a few years back. TU CEO Chris Wood called the company out, Nissan apologized, and wrote a check that got used to fix rivers. Good stuff.

Where Jeep goes next is obviously up to the company. The fly-fishing industry should speak up.

Is my Jeep for sale? Nah… I’ll see what happens going forward. But my brand allegiance is certainly up for grabs, and it’s not going to be won by a company that makes ads with vehicles plowing through rivers.



  1. You are right on, as usual, Kirk. There are a lot of people involved in the making of a video for a car company. Indoors, hoards of managers and executives who sign off on image, brand, safety, ‘environment’, costs, plus post production people by the dozens, etc. Outside, there are drivers, videographers, directors, helpers, sometimes an on-site safety person, technicians, managers, etc. Is everyone blind to the consequences, or just happy to get paid?

    • You raise a great point BOK. Thank you. You’d think somebody, somewhere in the marketing and production group would have said something. And if nobody did, that speaks volumes about the true culture behInd that brand.

  2. Hank Rolfs on

    Excellent commentary Kirk. It took my brain a nano-second to realize that Jeep add was very very wrong… Thanks for calling Jeep out. Your public outcry is very much appreciated…especially considering your reach! Well done!!

  3. Joe Neumann on

    I recall Toyota ran a similar ad for their FJ some years ago and they got hammered for it. Polaris ran an ad a few months ago with their Ranger plowing over a gravel bar on a river and they got an earful from me – many, many gearheads roasted me for my scathing comment, with dozens of childish 😂 emojis.
    I own both a Jeep Wrangler AND a Polaris Ranger to suit my outdoor lifestyle and career, but too many 4×4 enthusiasts are not conservation-minded at all and do not give a rip about our natural resources or the sanctity of wildness- they just wanna tear open-throttle through the forests and streams.. as advertised.

  4. Kirk,
    Thanks for calling out Jeep/Chrysler for their silly ad. Things like that always make my eyes roll, along with ads that show manly trucks being driven along beaches and crashing through the surf. (No future rust issues there!)
    It is good to know that (some) manufacturers will acknowledge their mistake and try to refrain from repeating it. With the criticism coming from an actual owner of one, perhaps it will carry more weight than it would from someone driving a twenty year old Toyota.

  5. You know what’s gonna trash a LOT of water? Lithium extraction from clay deposits.

    I might suggest that TU would issue a policy statement regarding sourcing of lithium and other new economy rare earths. Lithium can be taken from existing geothermal water sources, as in the case of the mud pots near the Salton Sea. It’s probably why people get so mellow after a soak at Strawberry Hot Springs.

  6. Why is it so hard for brands and ad agencies to get this right. It’s been going on for way too long. Keep call them out Kirk and maybe they will get the message.

    • Jim Aylsworth on

      I too cringe every time I see these advertisements. I know the ad agency folk think it looks cool, but all I see is devastation of a fragile ecosystem.

  7. Jeep has been a cult vehicle forever and it’s always been everything Deeter now knows about them.

    I got bitten decades ago and it seems Jeep has never grown enough to get out of its own way, corporately.

  8. I’m sorry, but a 23 mile range in e-mode should be considered fraudulent advertising…that’s no electric vehicle. They sure didn’t get to that stream for filming the ad in e-mode!!!

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