autoevolution

JEEP Wrangler Review

OUR TEST CAR: JEEP Wrangler Sport 2.8 CRD

JEEP Wrangler  - Page - 1
Jeep, as a brand, is one of the most iconic manufacturers of sports utility vehicles in the history of the automobile. Along with the British from Land Rover they are practically the epitome of all-wheel drive vehicles. Some people are currently going as far as naming any four-by-four they see a "Jeep", no matter if the logo on the car says "Toyota" or even "Mitsubishi". Although Jeep has had numerous attempts at making this stop since their brand is trademarked, even they will have to admit that when your brand is "seen" on every car out there it can only mean awareness. Huge awareness.

As we're sure many of you already know, the "Jeep" name actually come from the G.P. abbreviation, which in turn comes from "General Purpose". Its non-phonetically-transformed GP ancestors were actually designed entirely for the army, fact which kind of says a lot about their hard-terrain capabilities. Well, believe it or not, those capabilities were inherited by GPs grandsons also, albeit in a more "down to Earth" manner", since certain electronic goodies have been added for the sake of the modern car buyer.

We got our hands on a Jeep Wrangler Sport with a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel that can pull smaller mountains. You shouldn't, for one moment think that this has nothing to do with the original Jeep except the overall design. The Wrangler is a thoroughbred off-road vehicle that can also be used on the streets.

Just like the original military do-it-all car, the latest Wrangler is also a convertible, the doors can be taken off in a jiffy, the front windshield can be retracted and the interior can actually be "hosed down" to clean off the dirt. This is one bad mother. Before thinking only about its utilitarian/outdoorsy features, you should also learn that there's quite a decent audio system and an air conditioning system in there, so it can be used by a metrosexual looking for a macho vehicle also.

When you first take a look at the latest Wrangler - let's say, while it's sitting in a parking lot making the other cars spill their oil in fear – the first thing that can come to your mind would be that there's no way it looks city-friendly. The exaggerated wheel arches stand out from a mile away, while the huge ground clearance can make you believe it can shelter a few Fiat 500s or smart fortwos under it.

The overall design cues are almost identical to its 60-something year old "grandfather", including the round, tractor-like headlights and the inflated wheel arches. Even the flat hood is kept in place the same way it used to on the Jeep Willys or the Bantam BRC (some of the initial "Jeeps"). It is said that they made the hoods flat so that officers could easily spread a map on it. Kind of like an early navigation system, you know?

Still, a design element which certainly wasn't found on the original Jeep is the abnormally long front bumper. Apparently it's that long in order to more easily fit a winch and/or extra headlights. Seen from the side, the front bumper is so long that a teenager could actually find enough room to sleep on it. Speaking of lateral-viewing, the Wrangler's profile is one of its best views. It simply looks ready to take care of business.

Arriving at the rear we can technically take a look at a box on wheels, since its design isn't that different than that of a cupboard. Speaking of cupboards and the Jeep Wrangler, we could also find some uncanny resemblance to the Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse rear. On the whole, there's nothing classy about the Wrangler's exterior looks. But still, that doesn't change the fact that "tall, dark and handsome" would be some adequate adjectives to describe our test car's overall looks. It all comes to personal preferences in the end. We liked it.

First things first: you don't step down into a Wrangler, you climb up into one. After finally arriving inside, the primary thing you notice is how austere is in there. Black hard plastics everywhere on the center console, the car's rather large roll-bar sits almost directly above your head and the overall space is that of a small car. And by small we mean something the size of a Volkswagen Polo, if not something even smaller. The luggage compartment, albeit very easily accessible thanks to the side-opening of the rear door, is also extremely small, and part of it is occupied by the soft-top and the subwoofer.

Interior space is clearly not one of the Wrangler's attributes. The doors are also a bit small and if you're a large dude (or dudette) it's kind of hard to step inside, especially since you have to climb up first. For any of you guys (or gals) who had any previous experience driving tractors, entering the Wrangler is pretty much the same.

Apart from the audio system with a six-CD changer, taken from older Mercedes-Benz models, every button and knob looks like it can take a lot of damage. Everything just screams "oldschool work truck" in this thing, including the tilted gear stick for the six-speed manual transmission. The only thing "touch friendly" inside seems to be the leather trimmed steering wheel which, even if it's not exactly a sample of luxury, is actually pleasurable to hold. Our test car had a problem from this point of view though, since you had to keep the wheel slightly to the left in order for the car to go completely straight.

The ergonomics of the buttons and knobs is almost top notch on the other hand, with a few minor exceptions. First of all, the buttons which control the electric windows are situated on the center console and don't have any explanation words or symbols to tell you what they actually do. Secondly, to confuse things even further, the door locks were put exactly where you'd think the window controls would be. You can find further details about the overall feeling in the interior from our very own 3d interior panorama found inside this text.

We first got to drive the Wrangler in a city with busy traffic, which isn't exactly the best place to get an idea about this type of car. First time jumping into it you get a feeling that you're going to run over a lot of pedestrians and not even feel it. Plus, we soon got acquainted with the fact that the car's awkwardly long front bumper cannot be seen from the driver's seat no matter how tall you are and proceeded at running over children and small animals. We're just kidding about this part, by the way.

Although the Wrangler's exterior dimensions aren't very large, there are a lot of protuberances exiting the driver's line of sight in almost every direction around the car. Apart from that – and quite obvious for that matter – there are no parking sensors to guide you between other cars, increasing the risk to get absolutely no damage while parking with one wheel over a Volkswagen. This thing has absolutely no place to be driven in a busy European city.

Still, you shouldn't get the wrong impression about it now. You CAN get used to maneuver it between smaller cars. Plus, pretty much any econobox driver will step aside whenever he takes a glance in the rear view mirror and you happen to be there in the aforementioned all-wheel drive ogre. Speaking of rear view mirrors, we honestly tried but in the end we failed to find any controls (manual or not) for the exterior ones.

Being powered by an oil-burner doesn't hurt your gas wallet very much on the other hand, despite the feeling you'd get about the Wrangler's fuel economy just by looking at it. Considering we were just getting acquainted with the car and we were using it in stop-and-go traffic, the number we got were between 12 and 12.5 liters per 100 kilometers (US 18.8-19.6 mpg). Not too shabby, especially since it also has the aerodynamics of a couple of bricks. On the whole, it's not the best car for roaming the city in but you can get used to a lot of its quirks in no time.

Outside the metropolis, this is where our test car began to show up its teeth and claws. Of course, we're not talking about the highway, since that's as far from the Wrangler's playground as a one-year old would be doing wheelies with its baby-stroller. Let's just say that drag coefficient of 0.49 isn't going to be very gentle with the noise levels inside. From 90-100 km/h (55-60 mph) upwards, a certain whistle begins to the engine's place as the main sound provider inside the cockpit, leaving you with nothing else but turning up the sound system's volume or slowing the heck down to more bearable speed.

Not to mention the fact that at highway speeds you have to pretty much yell at your companions to actually make yourself heard. Apart from the acoustic discomfort there's also the atrocious handling when tackling corners at higher speeds than you would normally do. Facts are facts, you can't put live axles on a vehicle and expect it to handle like a Formula One car. Obviously the Wrangler doesn't. The 2.8-liter engine delivers an adequate 177 horsepower and an Earth-moving 400 Nm (295 lb ft) of torque, enough to propel the Wrangler to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 11.7 seconds.

Scared by now? Well, you shouldn't be, because the second you run out of road in this thing... that's when the fun begins. The Wrangler can go practically anywhere and climb any thing. Even with its standard tires! All you have to do is find a place where only an ATV would do, put the lever in 4WD mode, unlock the front and rear stabilizer bars with the touch of a button and get ready to rumble where almost certainly no other road car has gone before.

You wouldn't believe the feeling of total freedom and safety you can have in a Wrangler while off-road-ing. Mind you, we didn't actually put it to an extreme test but enough to be more than impressed with its hard terrain capabilities. The best part about it is that you don't even need to lift it, exchange the tires or add anything to it. OK, maybe a winch would do, but other than that this car is totally off-road ready.
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autoevolution Jul 2009
56
History
9
Exterior
7
Interior
4
In the city
3
Open road
7
Comfort
3
Tech facts
5
Gadgets
4
Safety
6
Conclusion
8
53user rating 19 votes
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Guest Opinions

Sir May B. Bach

Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time there was this... ahem... little poor boy. He was so poor that he had to eat his cereal using a fork just so he could save milk. He also had to share every meal with his... ahem... seventeen brothers and sisters. Technically, many of the "yo mama is so poor" jokes are... ahem... based on situations that actually happened to him.

Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time there was this... ahem... little poor boy. He was so poor that he had to eat his cereal using a fork just so he could save milk. He also had to share every meal with his... ahem... seventeen brothers and sisters. Technically, many of the "yo mama is so poor" jokes are... ahem... based on situations that actually happened to him. Anyway, as time went by, the little boy grew up and in the end he became... ahem... this unbelievably successful business man with a ginormous fortune that even... ahem... Bill Gates' family would be envious of.

Do you know what that little boy swore as... ahem... a small child? Whether he would ever become rich or not he would never act as a poor man. Ever again. Well, guess what? I'm that little poor boy, you pricks! Did you actually expect me to get inside this... ahem... hillbilly-mobile? Me, in a Jeep?!?

Oh you guys are so full of... ahem... unpleasant surprises. Why would I ever drive a Jeep when there will always be a perfectly-good... ahem... Range Rover in my garage? Everybody knows that the British are best when it comes to off-road vehicles. Nothing can beat my matte-black supercharged Range Rover both off-road AND... ahem... on-road. Did I mention I got it custom tuned and it now sports four superchargers instead of one?

Of course, about three quarters of the engine's horsepower is used to spin the superchargers alone, but still, I got plenty of... ahem... torque at my disposal. With the upgraded pneumatic suspension and a different set of tires I can practically run... ahem... circles around this Jeep. So, this kind of begs the question, why would I choose a Wrangler for going on my... ahem... fox hunting expeditions since my Rangie is about 1327 times better?

Sure, my custom Range Rover costs about 14 times more than this 'merican piece of garbage, but hey, it's not like I can't afford it. With this being said, if you're filthy... ahem... rich you should never buy a Jeep. That is my final take on this car. Ahahaha! It's also diesel? Forgetaboutit [/end Sicilian accent]

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