- As robust as they come
- Brilliant off-road
- Not so good on-road
- Could be more economical
What's the Jeep Wrangler like?
The chunky shape of the iconic Jeep Wrangler appeals to many people who think they would like to really stand out from the crowd.
But take a good drive before you buy if you’re looking at any model before the most recent, which was launched in 2018.
All the earlier models are serious off-roaders built for hard work in the toughest of conditions and have hard, uncompromising suspension.
So they can be hard to live with on the road because of an uncomfortable ride and steering that gives no feedback at all.
There was no diesel option until 2007, so economy was a real problem in earlier Jeeps. But this third-generation introduced both a diesel engine and a four-door for the first time, making it a much more practical alternative.
The charm of the garden shed shape has changed little in 50 years. After all, this is the one that started the whole smaller 4x4 idea as the Willy’s Jeep in 1942.
Both two and four-door models roll a good deal in the corners, even though grip is actually pretty good.
Of course, it has off-road ability that that will take you just about anywhere you could think of – including the most impossible slopes and deepest mud or rivers.
From 2007 engines were a 3.8-litre V6 with 196bhp and a 2.8-litre diesel with 174bhp, both driving all four wheels through manual 6-speed or automatic 5-speed gearboxes.
But from 2010, the diesel, which is one of the more common variants, was up-rated to 197bhp and also had a big increase in torque, improving performance both on and off-road.
The short wheelbase two-door accelerates from 0 to 60mph in 10.3 seconds, with the 5-speed automatic gearbox that’s much more common than the 6-speed manual and is capable of about 28 to 30mpg.
The four-door takes a little longer to 60mph, but should manage about the same economy.
Off-Road Ability and Equipment
Of course, a legend like this has a proper four-wheel drive (4WD) system that uses rear-wheel drive on the road to save fuel.
When the going gets slippery on the road, as in ice and snow, you can move the tunnel mounted lever to 4WD auto on the move, and if even more traction is required it should be moved to 4WD High,which can also be done on the move.
Finally, comes 4WD Low, which gives a set of low ratio gears for real boulder jumping, deep mud and sand, or deep snow.
However, to change into it, you have to stop and, as momentum is everything when 4WD is needed, get it into low before you get it into the mire.
There are few creature comforts inside - it’s meant to be a workhorse, so many have wipe-clean rubber covered floors.
There's decent legroom front and rear in the two-door, which only seats four, and much more passenger and boot space in the four-door.
Equipment in the mid-range Sahara includes folding back seats, electric windows, alloys, air conditioning, traction control, a decent stereo system, and cruise control.
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The Jeep Wrangler is a small SUV that's managed to carve its own niche in a competitive class. As a match for the wildest and toughest of terrains, the Wrangler is a good choice for those willing to sacrifice comfort and refinement in the name of adventure and practicality.