Skip to main content

Jeep Wrangler Popemobile to ferry Pope Francis on U.S. Trip

2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport left
The specially-modified vehicles known as “Popemobiles” can attract as much attention as the pontiff himself, and that’s likely to be the case when Pope Francis makes his first visit to the United States next month.

When he visits New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., Pope Francis will travel in a converted Jeep Wrangler, according to Car and Driver. Maybe that’s his way of trying to blend in.

This is not the first time the Pope has used a Jeep. When he visited Ecuador in July, a four-door Wrangler was the Vatican’s vehicle of choice. That particular Wrangler featured a large bit of scaffolding with a glassed-in front and roof and open sides in place of the stock roll structure. A Toyota Land Cruiser was also used on the South American trip.

It’s unclear whether the U.S. Popemobile will be the same one used in Ecuador, or another one with similar modifications. All Popemobiles feature a prominent center rear seat for the pontiff, with varying levels of enclosure. While many recent vehicles had fully-enclosed glass boxes, Pope Francies reportedly prefers his rides to be as open as possible.

As the only four-door convertible currently on sale in the U.S., the Wrangler Unlimited would seem to suit the Pope’s tastes pretty well. His entourage probably wouldn’t fit into the back of a Mustang convertible.

Mercedes-Benz SUVs have most commonly been used as Popemobiles, but in a somewhat more egalitarian move, Pope Francis also took delivery of a Hyundai Santa Fe Popemobile earlier this year. The Jeep has a similarly down-to-earth vibe, and it’s hard to think of anything more appropriate for a visit to the U.S.

The Vatican motor pool has included a wide variety of vehicles over the years, with pontiffs riding in everything from the aforementioned Mercedes models to a Lincoln Continental, Seat Panda, Range Rover, and even heavy-duty trucks and buses.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Hellcat engine fits in the Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler, but there’s an issue
2020 Jeep Gladiator

The 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V8 engine has been a fountain of youth for the Dodge Challenger and Charger, and has also livened up the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Jeep has now confirmed that the engine also fits in the Wrangler and Gladiator, but a major problem prevents it from being used in those vehicles.

Jeep boss Tim Kuniskis told Australian car website Drive that the Hellcat "fits like a glove" in the Wrangler and its Gladiator pickup truck sibling. But the fit is so tight, Kuniskis said, that it leaves no "air space" between the engine and the body for crush zones, making it harder for the vehicle to absorb energy in a crash. A Hellcat-engined Wrangler or Gladiator would not pass federal crash tests, Kuniskis said, nixing the idea of offering that setup from the factory.

Read more
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to recall 860K U.S. vehicles over emissions issues
2014 Dodge Avenger R/T

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will recall 862,520 gasoline-powered vehicles in the United States because they do not meet emissions standards, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced. The affected vehicles are from model years 2011 to 2016.

The recall is the result of "in-use emissions investigations conducted by the EPA and in-use testing conducted by FCA as required by EPA regulations," the agency said in a statement. The EPA told Reuters that it will continue to investigate other FCA vehicles, which could lead to additional recalls. FCA did not immediately comment.

Read more
2018 Jeep Wrangler JL frame defect may force sales stoppage, recall
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited review

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCA) new generation Jeep Wrangler JL has a problem. Certain Wrangler JLs have defective frame welds that can result in the popular SUV's track bar separating from the frame, causing immediate steering problems and potential crashes, Japolnik reported.

It is not yet clear which model Wrangler JLs or how many vehicles are affected by the recall, because to date FCA has not made a public statement. We'll cycle back to update this article with more specifics as news develops.

Read more