Could it be the Italian connection at work? Could it be he’s an off-roader at heart?
Regardless, Pope Francis will ride in one of this country’s most identifiable vehicles during his upcoming tour of the U.S.: the Jeep Wrangler.
The Vatican confirmed last Friday that the pontiff will use a Wrangler similar to one he rode around in during a trip to Ecuador in July.
Pope Francis eschewed the traditional, bulletproof “Popemobile” that became the standard after an assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1981. When Benedict XVI succeeded him, he continued to use the bulletproof ride.
Long known for his common touch, Pope Francis has left the glass sardine can in the papal garage in favor of open-air rides that allow him to interact with adoring throngs who come out to see him.
“It’s true that anything could happen, but let’s face it, at my age I don’t have much to lose,” he told Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia last year. “I know that something could happen to me, but it’s in the hands of God.”
Fiat Chrysler hasn’t released much information about the pope’s new ride. The Vatican said it is already in the hands of the Secret Service and won’t be on view before the pope’s Sept. 22-27 U.S. visit. The white Wrangler used by the pope in Ecuador had a glass-front roof with open sides.
When in Brazil, he rode in a silver Fiat hatchback when making the trip from the airport to downtown Rio de Janeiro. When in Seoul, South Korea, he used a Kia Soul – sans hamsters – to buzz around the city.
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Pope Francis is eminently practical when it comes to his own “whip.” The pontiff has shunned Pope Benedict’s BMWs and Mercedes cars and drives a used 1984 Renault 4. The car, which has more than 190,000 miles on it, was a donation from the Rev. Renzo Zocco, who used it to serve the poor in Verona.
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When the pope is escorted around Vatican City these days, he’s getting carted around in an all-new popemobile from Hyundai. The white Sante Fe variant is a drop top. Narrower than the more expensive luxury vehicles used by his predecessors, it allows for guards to stand alongside the car as it drives