2007 Jeep Wrangler: Not So Unlimited
October 29, 2007
The redesigned Jeep Wrangler has been a big sales success for Jeep. Chrysler is reporting that it sold 92,549 Wranglers through September of this year. That's up by about 70 percent compared to last year and more than double what Toyota's sold for the FJ Cruiser.
Chrysler doesn't break down the Wrangler's sales by model, but the four-door Unlimited has no doubt been a large part of the new Wrangler's success. It's more livable and functional than any Wrangler to date. But having spent the past week and a half with our long-term 2007 Wrangler Unlimited, I'm left thinking that image is still the driving force behind Wrangler sales.
A four-door Wrangler really suffers when analyzed from a daily-driver standpoint. Compared to our long-term FJ Cruiser, another vehicle I spent considerable time with, I've found that the Wrangler is deficient in these areas:
Wind and Road noise: A Wrangler is noisy? That's crazy talk, Brent! Yeah, it's an obvious statement, but it needs to be mentioned. On highway drives, our Wrangler is noisier than anything I've driven since the previous-generation Wrangler. (In the Jeep's defense, it would presumably fair better if it were fitted with the optional three-piece hardtop.)
Interior design and materials: The bland interior design and cheap plastics I could live with – maybe. But not having any suitable storage space is a major hassle for daily or long-distance livability. No provisions are provided to house one's cell phone or MP3 player, for instance, and the cupholders are on the small side. Nor is there any real door-mounted armrest, as mentioned previously.
Power and transmission: Our Wrangler is slow. It weighs 4,342 pounds and takes 10.4 seconds to get to 60 mph. (The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited full-test had a slightly quicker time of 9.7 seconds.) Not helping matters is the four-speed automatic. Climbing grades, the 3.8-liter V6 is gutless until the transmission downshifts a gear. Then it's thrashy and noisy.
In my opinion, a regular two-door Wrangler can get away with a lot of this. ("It's a Jeep thing.") Just like a sports car, inherent design limitations are acceptable in return for enhanced (off-road) performance. But having a four-door implies more real-world usage. Personally, I would go with a more livable daily driver and then have a used and modified TJ on the side.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 9,990 miles