JEEP WRANGLER REVIEW
Vehicle Style: 4x4 wagon
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.3 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 11.2 l/100km
It’s not for the faint hearted, Jeep’s Wrangler. But while built for the rough and tumble of the trail, it’s now a more user-friendly package.
The 2011 update even included some interior refinements to make the open top Jeep seem almost car-like... almost.
But while creature comforts are improved, the Wrangler is really all about one thing: under its skin is an off-roader capable of taking you places other light-duty SUVs can only dream about.
Quality: Interior fittings in the Wrangler look rugged and feel like they could withstand a thorough beating. There is no plush padding though; hard plastics are the order of the day. Perfect for their intended purpose.
Comfort: Though the seats are firm and don’t offer a lot of support, they hold up well on longer trips.
Rear passengers get a fairly upright seat with a short cushion and limited visibility (you may have to expect some grumbles from back there sooner into the journey).
Equipment: Remote central locking, heated electric door-mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker CD/MP3/DVD audio, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, removable canvas roof, power windows and air-conditioning.
Storage: Rear cargo space is awkwardly shaped thanks to the Wrangler’s roll bars and optional Infinity sub-woofer.
With seats folded there’s a handy 935 litres of space, plus a removable under-floor bin, lockable centre console and net-pockets in doors and dash.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Wrangler’s 2.8 litre intercooled diesel looks good on paper with 147kW of power and 460Nm of torque from as low as 1600rpm.
On the road though it needs a decent prod to get things moving, with a kerb weight of almost two tonnes (1987kg) dragging it down.
But, once rolling, the Wrangler feels strong with a thick torque band constantly on call.
That said, the five-speed auto is off-the-pace; its ratios are too widely-spaced and with shift patterns that don’t always flatter the engine. The available manual-mode is more responsive and a better way to modulate gear-shifts.
Refinement: Refinement is a hit-and-miss affair in the Wrangler. Engine clatter intrudes into the cabin at idle, and the nuggety tyres can roar up a storm on the freeway.
Wind noise is hard to pick (no mean feat considering the three-piece fibreglass roof fitted to our test car), and body rigidity is excellent.
Suspension: Solid axles and coil springs are employed front and rear giving 257mm of ground clearance. The high-pressure gas shock-absorbers are tuned for increased feel at low speed (for off-road situations), softening as speed rises.
The system works well, without the fidgety feel of some four-wheel-drives.
Braking: Weight truly is the enemy of the Wrangler, hampering its braking performance. On gravel though, the ABS tuning for the four-wheel disc-brakes works very well.
ANCAP rating: Not tested.
Safety features: Dual airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, electronic roll mitigation, height adjustable, pretensioning front seatbelts, and high-tensile steel roll bars are standard. Side airbags for front passengers are available as an option.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Service costs: TBC
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Land Rover Defender 110 ($48,990) – Cast from the same ‘function-before-form’ mould, the Defender casts aside mod-cons for pure go-anywhere ability.
Less power and torque and not quite as trendy, but built to work hard no matter what’s thrown at it.
Mitsubishi Challenger LS 2.5DT ($47,490) – Challenger offers a more car-like experience, but is also very capable off-road. Rear seat passengers will appreciate the additional space and refinement. (see Challenger reviews)
Toyota FJ Cruiser ($44,990) – The petrol V6 powertrain may not suit everyone but the bold FJ Cruiser offers the same rugged, adventurous, lifestyle-oriented experience as the Wrangler.
Based on Prado mechanicals, the FJ is both refined and capable off-road. (see FJ Cruiser reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Despite its popularity in and around Australian cities, the Wrangler never quite feels truly at home in town.
This is a no-compromise off-roader, and steep climbs, muddy ruts and winding gravel trails are where it does its best work.
As an affordable way into the world of off-road adventuring, Jeep’s rugged Wrangler is hard to beat.