January 28, 2008
This weekend, I had great plans to head up the mountains to lovely Lake Arrowhead for some play in the snow. So I requested the off-road-capable Wrangler Unlimited. The long wheelbase gives it a decent highway ride, and the high ground clearance and 4WD would give it sure-footedness in the snow. In theory. The CHiPs didn't buy that theory (demanding snow chains on every car) and we were turned back and sent down the mountain.
Undaunted, we made our way across to Palm Springs. No, we didn't do any off-roading, but in the short course of about 24 hours, we encountered, sleet, thick fog, and heavy, pounding rain. The Wrangler was a champ. In hard wind and powerful rain, it was very loud, the top and vertical windshield performing the inclement-weather duet. But to be honest, I was grateful for the long throw of the headlights and the high ground clearance. The car was totally airtight and the heater and defrost blew as strong as I expected from the off-road legend.
At one point, we weren't going very quickly on the highway due to the tremendous downpour and limited visibility, but when I hit the gas, the Wrangler just wouldn't budge. It doesn't have a lot of pick-up anyway, but I think the high body simply fought the wind. To its credit, it felt totally stable the whole time.
Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor @ 11,636 miles
December 03, 2007
"Hey, what do you think of your _______?"
Drive around a variety of new, occasionally interesting cars and you'll frequently be asked this question. For strangers, I've long since skipped explaining that it's not really mine (unless it's a real heap and/or the Compass), and instead found it to be a great way to find out what I really think of a car. You're first response is usually the one closest to your gut, like one of those rapid-fire question exercises when someone throws in a serious question amongst a bunch of mundane ones to see how you really feel ("Boxers or briefs?" "Chocolate or vanilla?" "Do you stay with Victoria, or go for it with Robin?")
So, using that logic, here's what I really think about the Wrangler. The first being most important, and the subsequent answers showing what happens when pesky old rationality starts to rear its ugly head:Usually Jerk Bouncer at Hollywood Billiards: "Hey, what do you think about your Wrangler?"
(after a second to remember that yes, I apparently own a Wrangler)
Me: "It's surprisingly fun. Great steering. You wouldn't think it, but it's actually really fun to drive around the city. I like it."
Jerk Bouncer: "Cool, I've been thinking about getting one. The two-door version."
Me: "Nice. The top is a pretty big pain to put up and down, so if you're not going to use it much, I'd definitely suggest the hard top. It gets really noisy on the highway with the soft top."
Jerk Bouncer: "Oh, with the wind noise? Does that have a six or a four?"
Me: "It only comes with a six. It's OK around town, but on the highway it stinks. Only has 205 horsepower."
Jerk Bouncer: "Oh, what sort of gas mileage does it get?"
Me: "Not very good."
Jerk Bouncer: "Bummer. Like 15 or 16 around town?"
Me: "Yeah, just about." (after, the car said it was getting 15.4. EPA is 15 city, 19 highway, 17 combined)
I then went inside to watch my football game, and because I was tired of talking to a guy who up until that point had always been, well, a jerk. Funny how driving a new, interesting car can change one's demeanor towards you.
James Riswick, Associate Editor @ 8,916 miles
November 26, 2007
I love taking the Jeep Wrangler for all-American holidays. It seems fitting to drive a domestic brand and the Wrangler is such an American icon, especially in that Jeepy Green (not the official color).
Despite the Wrangler Sahara's size and weight (over 4200 pounds), it feels light and manageable. It's always fun to drive and with the handy AUX port my iPod helped drown out the constant wind and road noise with holiday tunes.
But I feel bad that it got stuck doing city duty. It wants action. It wants to be set free to stomp boulders and slosh through mud.
Alas, this Thanksgiving weekend it had to settle for Christmas shopping and speed bumps. Oh, and the Partridge Family Christmas albumn.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ a palindromical 8778 miles
September 04, 2007
With so many posts describing our Jeep's on road performance, I decided it was time to get it a little dirty. I've already driven the Wrangler on the Rubicon trail, so I know that it can pretty much climb up anything you have the guts to attempt, but rock crawling wasn't on the agenda for the weekend. Instead, I did what most owners will probably attempt -- basic fire roads with a few technical hill climbs thrown in for fun.
On the rocky fire roads, the Wrangler was much less of a pogo stick than its predecessor. The four-door's longer wheelbase helps for sure, but the feel through the steering wheel was less jittery as well. It's sturdier too, with very few rattles from the soft top. That said, the Wrangler doesn't soak up bumps nearly as well as the Toyota FJ Cruiser or Nissan Xterra. Slow speed climbs were a piece of cake, though, as the Wrangler picks its way up steep hills easily and with little tire slippage.
Tall gearing in the four-speed automatic is another area where the Jeep falls short of the Toyota and Nissan. Second is too weak, and first is too high strung. Using low range would have helped, but on such easy roads it seemed overkill.