Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pathological drives a Jeep Wrangler

Rugged go anywhere off-road capability is what you’re going to get with the Jeep Wrangler. But if you want on-road refinement also you’d best look elsewhere. Here’s why:

The standard and sole engine offered in the Wrangler is a 3.6-liter six-cylinder pumping out 280hp. Standard six-speed manual gearbox is the way to go with this configuration as the five-speed auto gearbox just doesn’t seem as refined. We however did get the opportunity to test drive both and well we’d prefer the manual gearbox as it helped us get out of a lot of sticky situations when we decided to get a little adventurous and go off-roading for the first time. It doesn’t seem as sophisticated as the Range Rover that we got to drive on some light off-road trails, but at the same time we weren’t as worried about scratching or dinging up the Wrangler as we were with the Land Rover. After all, the price gap between the two is pretty significant and the rep from the dealership was encouraging us to push the Wrangler as hard as we could on the off-road course.

The Wrangler really does handle off-roading well. It really does have the traction and versatility that you’d expect from a Jeep. We really did enjoy ourselves as we climbed some muddy hills and also a few steep inclines. This vehicle really will put a smile on your face even if you aren’t a fan of Jeep products. However, things change dramatically when you take the Wrangler on-road. It just doesn’t feel as refined as you’d hoped it would. There is far too much wind and road noise that enters the cabin, and the fact that you have to deal with a ride that never feels settled at any given speed. The 3.6 is flexible and has plenty of pull where it matters most, but if you opt for the auto gearbox it just doesn’t live up to the potential and it’s a shame because we love this 3.6 engine.

The interior is more focused towards individuals that enjoy off-roading and will use the proper gear while off-roading. While it’s not the best of the best but we do appreciate the simplicity of the infotainment system and many of the controls. The quality however is iffy in some parts but it is far from a deal breaker for those who really do want this vehicle. Our tester was the three-door version while the five-door (Limited) can be had if you do want the comfort and convenience of two extra doors for the rear seats. The boot space isn’t anything to brag about and well the removable top helps make the Wrangler completely airy but you’d have to have somewhere to store it, and if you get caught in the rain the interior is fully water resistant and you can also drain out the water below the front seats.

There are literally fourteen versions of the Wrangler to choose from. We had the Sport 4x4 trim which came with a hard top headliner, LED lighting package, connectivity package, leather wrapped steering wheel, chrome/leather wrapped shift knob. We were baffled at the cost of our Wrangler as it was literally almost $19,000 more expensive than the actual sticker price. It may seem like an interesting proposition for those who are Wrangler fans, but we certainly wouldn’t pay this premium for one.

The Wrangler is one of those vehicles you’d have to really want one to exploit it for what it is capable of and that’s off-road prowl. On-road dynamics just plain suck and well we’d say it’s worth waiting for the redesigned 2018 model which is supposed to be much more refined.

Likes: Go anywhere capability with an interior that’s water resistant. It was a hoot to drive off-road.

Dislikes: Refinement where it matters is not there and we still aren’t sure about FCA reliability record.

Our pick: We’d stick with the Sport 4x4 trim for those who just want a Wrangler. Everyone else will most likely pick one of the higher trims or special editions to stand out. We personally wouldn’t go any higher than the Rubicon trim because the rest of them get mighty expensive the higher you climb.

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