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The 2002 Jeep Wrangler has a stiff ride, offers about the same noise isolation as a motorcycle and has a soft top that's a nail-buster to operate. That said, the Wrangler also offers a visceral motoring experience like no other and the off-road ability of a mountain goat.
Cheap, fun to drive, classic styling, go-anywhere capability.
Soft top a handful to manipulate, difficult ingress/egress, slow steering.
Available Wrangler Models
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A new "X" model is introduced, combining the potent 4.0-liter inline six with affordability. Sahara and Sport models receive upgrades, including hard doors with roll-up windows. New optional wheels, increased output from the climate control system and an improved premium sound system round out the changes to the tough and ready 2002 Jeep Wrangler.
The Wrangler continues to be the quintessential off-road icon. This Jeep began as a vehicle for military use and has retained its no-nonsense utility while slowly evolving into a practical and popular means of transportation. The Wrangler has never lost its drive-me-hard-through-the-slop attitude, despite improvements for enjoyable daily commuting. And it's one of the cheapest convertibles around. Available in SE, Sport, Sahara and new X trim levels, the Wrangler fits into several budgets.
The SE is the lowest-priced Wrangler, but feels it with a distinct lack of power (a 2.5-liter inline four with only 120 horsepower is all she wrote at this level) or ABS. The Sahara is the priciest of the bunch and comes loaded with the 190-horsepower 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel, front and rear tow hooks, fog lamps, AM/FM/CD stereo, Convenience Group (with lockable storage, and dual cupholders) and alloy wheels. Newly standard for the Sahara are meaty 30-inch (outside diameter) tires, full doors with roll-up windows and speed control (though we don't imagine a Wrangler as an ideal long-distance cruiser).
In between the SE and Sahara are the X and Sport models. The X fills the previous (and huge) price gap between the bare-bones SE and the more powerful and well-equipped Sport. Fitted with the muscular inline six and cloth seating, the X gives the essentials to those folks who can afford more than the SE but can't make the more than $4,000 jump to the Sport.
Those who do choose a Sport will enjoy this year's upgrades that include the full doors with real windows, fog lamps and tow hooks front and rear.
Nobody, however, will mistake the Wrangler for a smooth-running family sedan; it's very much a truck, thanks to its high step-in height, slow steering ratio and abundant wind and road noise. On the street, its petite size and tight turning radius make it a blast to maneuver, but it can get a little scary to drive and control at freeway speeds in severely high winds.
Its performance off-road is unparalleled. The Wrangler's Quadra-Coil suspension allows for an incredible amount of wheel articulation as well as steep approach and departure angles. And the abundance of aftermarket parts to modify the Wrangler makes it enormously popular with the rock-crawling crowd.
The Wrangler does have its quirks -- rear visibility can be a challenge and taking off and putting on the soft top requires superhuman levels of patience. Once the top is on, be prepared for obtrusive flapping. Ordering the Sahara with the Dual Top Group option gets you a hardtop with tinted glass and a folding/removable soft top for a multitude of configurations -- though transitioning from one to another can be a daunting task.
Despite the top's packaging flaws and Wrangler's raw-edged nature, this Jeep is fun to drive, cheap to buy and terrific in its element.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.