Jeep Wrangler

2016 Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is authentic and unique, with capability that keeps getting enhanced at the same time this intentionally crude vehicle gets more comfortable and civilized. By intentionally crude, we point to the wonderfully exposed hinges on the removable doors and a windshield that flips down for a less-impeded view off road.

After all these years, the Wrangler can still make you feel like General Patton. And this is not an outdated product.

Wrangler uses a smooth and fancy Chrysler Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, and a 5-speed automatic transmission designed by Mercedes-Benz with an available 6-speed manual. The engine makes 285 horsepower with 260 pound-feet of torque, scooting a two-door to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, with the heavier four-door Wrangler Unlimited trailing behind, in 8.4 seconds.

Theres surprisingly good acceleration at relatively low rpm. The old-school steering is dull and the ride not great, and it only gets 17 miles per gallon, but all of that becomes less important in rugged terrain where the Wrangler shines.

Wrangler features a rugged chassis with high ground clearance and skid plates, and solid axles front and rear. It is an amazing machine when it comes to scrambling over boulders. New tricks by the Rubicon model, in pursuit of bigger boulders, include electronic disconnection of the sway bar to allow extreme wheel articulation and stability in extreme situations.

And General Patton would be blown away by the refinement in the cabin. Air conditioning and Alpine speakers.

The two-door Jeep Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited come with a hard top, soft top, or both. The Freedom hardtop is like a T-top, with easily removable roof panels. The soft top is easier to get down than it used to be, but the T-top is the easiest to manage.

New for 2016 is a Black Bear edition with rock-resistant rails and a soft top.


2015 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler is what the Jeep brand is all about. Wranglers origins date back to the World War II Willys MB. Todays Wrangler has been modernized with a contemporary engine and electronics, and its body panels are artfully curved for stiffness while appearing flat, but it retains the basic premise of a simple utility vehicle that can traverse the most rugged terrain imaginable.

For 2015, a new 8-speaker audio system comes standard, and a 9-speaker Premium system with 552-watt amplifier is available. The subwoofer has been relocated under the cargo floor for 2015. All 2015 Jeep Wranglers include a new Torx Tool Kit for removing the roof, doors, and front bumper end caps (on Hard Rock edition). Included are torx heads in four sizes, a ratchet, and storage pouch. A new Black Steel and 31-inch Dueler Tire Package is available for 2015 Wrangler Sport. The 2015 Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock edition gets a unique new look, with a low-gloss black grille, along with a 9-speaker Alpine audio system.

In addition to the Wrangler Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon models, special editions include the Willys Wheeler and Willys Wheeler W, the Freedom Edition, Rubicon X, and the Rubicon Hard Rock.

The four-door Wrangler Unlimited is highly capable off-road, though not as maneuverable as the shorter two-door versions. The number of doors and the difference in wheelbases doesnt fully describe the differences between Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited, however.

Upholstery ranges from cloth to leather, and heated front seats are available. Buyers must choose between hard tops and soft tops or both. You can swap the doors to half-size and fold down the windshield (though its quite a chore), or power up the windows and indulge in climate control.

All Wranglers are powered by Chryslers 24-valve 3.6-liter V6, rated at 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Theres a choice of 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. A Wrangler gets away from a stop with no problem, but falls off the acceleration curve as it runs into aerodynamic resistance at highway speeds.

These are not sports cars, and if you buy a Wrangler for highway cruising, youve missed the point. Indeed, Wranglers will travel the Interstate with a modicum of comfort and civility, but theyre better suited as all-weather urban runabouts. Wranglers are for folks living on a beach or off the beaten path, or for those whose idea of a freeway is a fast section of dry wash or graded dirt run.

The standard soft top slides and folds horizontally on the roof, leaving the occupants further protected by door and window frames, augmented by a rollbar. The optional removable hardtop comes off in three pieces: a pair of T-tops, with a sunroof over the rear seat. With T-tops removed, at 65 mph the buffeting grates on you; but with the top on, it feels smooth.

Gas mileage is not a Wrangler virtue. Typically, it averages in the teens and doesnt change much between daily driving and long highway runs.

Wrangler has little direct competition. The only factory trail vehicle approaching a Wrangler is the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Land Rovers offer comparable off-road capability but are more expensive. A Mercedes G-Class has the off-highway ability of an Unlimited, a more luxurious cabin, and costs three times as much.


2014 Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is arguably older than anything beyond pickup trucks, tracing its roots to military duty 70 years ago. Wrangler has been modernized with a contemporary engine, electronics inside and underneath, and the body panels are now artfully curved for stiffness while appearing flat. The current-generation Wrangler was introduced as a 2007 model.

However, the Wrangler remains the most maneuverable and trail-capable vehicle from a showroom, and will go places most owners don't dare drive. Or hike. If you're not used to hanging in your seatbelt like a puppet, you have no idea what one can do.

Still trail-capable but not so maneuverable is the four-door Wrangler Unlimited. There are enough differences between Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited that a mere two- or four-door reference wouldn't do it justice. The delta in wheelbase (the distance from front wheel center to rear) is similar to that between a regular cab and crew cab pickup.

A new limited-production Wrangler Unlimited Dragon Edition joins the lineup for 2014, featuring black and bronze satin-gloss exterior and interior treatments. Jeep has reissued the Freedom Edition as a value-priced model.

Also new, the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X promises added off-road capability, including a winch-capable bumper and wider rock rails. A newly available Trail Kit features two D-rings, a tow strap, gloves, and storage bag. Parking lamps and turn-signal indicators are now clear rather than amber. Sport models may now be equipped with a Uconnect touchscreen radio with hard-drive storage.

Heated leather upholstery is available for Wranglers. You can swap the doors to half-size and fold down the windshield (though it's quite a chore), or power up the windows to indulge in climate control.

All Wranglers are powered by Chrysler's 24-valve 3.6-liter V6, here rated at 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. There's a choice of 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. A Wrangler gets away from a stop with no problem, but falls off the acceleration curve as it runs into aerodynamic resistance at highway speeds.

But if you buy a Wrangler for highway cruising, you've missed the point. Indeed, they will travel the Interstate with a modicum of comfort and civility, but that's not what they're built for. Wranglers are better suited to all-weather urban runabouts, for folks living on a beach or off the grid or beaten path, or for those whose idea of a freeway is a fast section of dry wash or graded dirt run.

The standard soft top slides and folds horizontally on the roof, leaving the occupants further protected by door and window frames, augmented by a rollbar. The removable hardtop comes off in three pieces: a pair of T-tops, with a sunroof over the rear seat. With T-tops removed, at 65 mph the buffeting grates on you; but with the top on, it feels smooth.

In the popular two-door Wrangler, there's very little storage space behind the rear seat, so four people with four medium backpacks fills it to overflowing. But the rear seat can be removed, creating a voluminous 61.2 cubic feet of cargo space. That's the setup we like.

Less likely, the rear seat can be removed from the four-door Wrangler Unlimited making 87 cubic feet. But that doesn't make much sense, either. Wrangler Unlimited is best for parties of four. Our recommendation: Remove the rear seats in the two-door Wrangler, leave the rear seats in place in the four-door Unlimited.

Wranglers are available with all the electronic trimmings, including touch-screen navigation, but sunlight plays havoc with display readability and on a trail you're moving around too much to touch the screen accurately.

Wrangler is not built for gas-mileage. Typically, it averages in the teens and doesn't change much between daily driving and long highway runs.

Wrangler has little direct competition. A Mercedes G-Class has off-highway ability of an Unlimited, a more luxurious cabin, and costs three times as much. The only factory trail vehicles approaching a Wrangler are the Toyota FJ Cruiser or a Land Rover Defender 90.


2013 Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is arguably older than anything beyond pickup trucks, tracing its roots to field duty 70 years ago. Wrangler has been modernized with a contemporary engine, electronics inside and underneath, and the body panels are now artfully curved for stiffness while appearing flat.

However, the Wrangler remains the most maneuverable and trail capable vehicle from a showroom and will go places most owners don't dare drive. Or hike. If you're not used to hanging in your seatbelt like a puppet you have no idea what one can do.

Still trail capable but not so maneuverable is the Wrangler Unlimited. There are enough differences between Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited that a mere two- or four-door reference wouldn't do it justice. The delta in wheelbase (the distance from front wheel center to rear) is similar to that between a regular cab and crew cab pickup.

Heated leather upholstery is available for Wrangler. You can swap the doors to half-size and fold down the windshield (though it's quite a chore) or power up the windows to indulge in climate control. No Jeeper ever had it quite like this.

All Wranglers are powered by Chrysler's 24-valve 3.6-liter V6, here rated at 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. There's a choice of 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. A Wrangler gets away from a stop with no problem but falls off the acceleration curve as it runs into aerodynamic resistance at highway speeds.

But if you buy a Wrangler for highway cruising you missed the point. Indeed, they will travel the Interstate with a modicum of comfort and civility but that's not what they're built for. Wranglers are better suited to all-weather urban runabouts, those living on a beach or off the grid or beaten path, or for those whose idea of a freeway is a fast section of dry wash or graded dirt run in 2WD. You can also use a Wrangler as a dinghy to tow behind your motorhome.

The soft top that comes standard slides and folds horizontally on the roof, leaving the occupants further protected by door and window frames, although there's already a rollbar. The removable hardtop comes off in three pieces, a pair of T-tops with a sunroof over the rear seat. With T-tops removed, at 65 mph the buffeting grates on you; but with the top on, it feels smooth at 75 and beyond.

In the popular two-door Wrangler there's very little storage space behind the rear seat, so four people with four medium backpacks is filled to overflowing. You wouldn't do any better with four people and luggage in a Mini, which is only 5 inches shorter. But if it's just you and some stuff, the rear seat can be removed, creating a spacious 61.2 cubic feet of cargo space; that's the configuration we prefer. Less likely, the rear seat can be remove from the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, making 87 cubic feet.

Wranglers are available with all the electronic trimmings, including a touch-screen navigation, but sunlight plays havoc with display readability and on a trail you're moving around too much to touch things accurately. At least the USB port means music without discs or tapes getting dusty.

We've driven Rubicons on their namesake trail, Oregon's Tillamook Forest, Michigan dunes and all the best (worst) stuff Moab has to offer, in far more comfort than Wranglers of old. If you don't want to build your own Jeep for trail use try a Rubicon. The Jeep warranty is probably better than your local 44 shop.

Wrangler is not built for gas-mileage. Typically it averages in the teens and doesn't change much between daily driving and long highway runs.

The current-generation Wrangler was introduced as a 2007 model. 2011 brought a refined interior. The 2013 Wrangler gets an improved soft top but carries over largely unchanged. Also new for 2013 is a Badge of Honor program in which you earn famous-trail badges (Rubicon, Hell's Revenge, etc.) by completing them.

Wrangler has little direct competition. A Mercedes G-Class has off-highway ability of an Unlimited, more luxurious cabin and costs three times as much. You might also argue a Power Wagon and Raptor as Unlimited challengers. For factory trail vehicles the only things approaching a Wrangler are Toyota's FJ Cruiser and 4Runner, Nissan's Xterra or a 15-year-old Land Rover Defender 90.

 

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