Perhaps the quintessential niche vehicle, the Jeep Wrangler has held the crown of ultimate off-roader ever since it was offered to the general public. This SUV's lineage goes back more than 60 years to the original military "Jeep," the now-legendary 4x4 that transported World War II soldiers and supplies over very rough terrain. Throughout the years the Wrangler's off-road prowess and tough-guy image have never wavered, but nor has it been the most civilized vehicle on the planet.
For the most recent generation of the Wrangler, Jeep has attempted to make it more livable, introducing a new four-door body style, a more contemporary interior and new safety and convenience features. But die-hard Jeep enthusiasts shouldn't be too worried about this softening: The latest Wrangler stays true to its original purpose of providing rugged off-road capability and distinctive style.
Current Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler is available in two body styles: a short-wheelbase two-door or the long-wheelbase four-door Unlimited. Both come in three trim levels: bare-bones Sport, midlevel Sahara and serious off-road-oriented Rubicon. Despite the Wrangler's rough-and-tumble image, there are a number of luxury and convenience items available like heated leather seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, navigation and an Infinity sound system.
All Jeep Wranglers come with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Four-wheel drive is also standard and includes high- and low-range transfer case gears. A six-speed manual transmission with hill-start assist is standard, while a five-speed automatic is optional. This engine is quite the revelation for the Wrangler, as it provides quick acceleration and decent fuel economy.
The Wrangler remains the go-to choice among hard-core off-roaders thanks to its compact dimensions (provided you choose the two-door version), high ground clearance, steep approach and departure angles and a no-nonsense four-wheel-drive system with an aggressive low-range function. Even the most basic Wrangler can venture places very few mass-market vehicles can. The Rubicon furthers those capabilities with extra features such as a special transfer case, knobbier tires and electronic locking differentials.
Make no mistake, though; buying a Wrangler is a commitment. The ride can be jarring, interior noise on the highway can be deafening and handling is poor. With its removable doors, zip-up plastic windows and hose-out interior, the Wrangler may be too rough for many consumers. But overall the trade-off is worth it, as nothing else can match the Wrangler's capabilities and iconic image.
Read the most recent 2015 Jeep Wrangler review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Jeep Wrangler page.