Jeep Wrangler 4×4 (2007 – ) expert review
Read the Jeep Wrangler 4x4 (2007 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The Jeep Wrangler is a motoring icon, a vehicle that really can trace its roots back to the WWII machine that transported allied troops. Pronounced wings cover big knobbly tyres, with a spare one hanging off the back, too. The upright, boxy cabin with a removable hardtop and exposed door hinges and the seven-bar front grille are all Jeep design signatures. It’s all pleasingly-rugged looking, which is the point really.
If you think the Wrangler is rugged and basic looking on the outside, then the cabin only reinforces that. The plastics are hard and the Jeep’s interior makes no attempt to look upmarket. There’s an appealing honesty in its basic, shapeless dashboard, its exposed screw heads and wiring and its simple instruments. Most of the crucial controls feel like they could be operated even if you’re wearing thick gloves. In short, it feels like a working vehicle. It’s utilitarian, then, but that’s what this car is about. Plus, it’s more user-friendly and more comfortable than its key rival, the Land Rover Defender.
The Jeep’s strength is its practicality – in five-door guise at least. The three-door’s short wheelbase means the rear seats eat up the boot space, leaving a tiny load area. That’s not so with the five-door model, which offers decent space for five adults and a good-sized boot. It’s possible to remove the roof, but it requires tools, time and muscle. Just pray if you do remove it the rain stays off while you’re out. If you need a basic, tough vehicle to get you almost anywhere, then it’s either this, the more expensive Land Rover or a pick-up truck.
Ride and handling
Given its phenomenal ability in crawling over rocks, wading through rivers and carving its way through axle-deep mud, the Wrangler isn’t too bad on the road. However, vague steering needs constant attention to keep the car pointing straight, while bends require lots of wheel-twirling. The suspension is bouncy, meaning it’ll skip and shake you down even flat-looking tarmac, but it’s not without its charm. It’s no worse here than its rugged rivals, either. Take it to its natural off-road environment and that suspension’s long travel and the lack of kickback through the steering are things to be welcomed.
A 2.8-litre turbodiesel is the workhorse under the Wrangler’s rubber-hook clipped bonnet. The unit delivers 197bhp and 339lb/ft and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission as standard. It’s not quiet – nor is it very rapid – but 10.7seconds to 62mph isn’t so bad all considering the car’s immense size and weight. Torque is the key to the engine’s performance, and there are masses of it at low revs. Which is where you’ll want it, both on and off-road. We haven’t driven the 280bhp 3.6-litre V6 petrol version, but with what it’ll cost to run, neither will many other people.