Perhaps the quintessential niche vehicle, the Jeep Wrangler has held the crown of ultimate affordable off-roader ever since it was first offered to the general public. This SUV's lineage goes back more than 60 years to the original military "Jeep," the legendary 4x4 that transported World War II soldiers and supplies over very rough terrain. Since then, 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.
Jeep has attempted to make the latest-generation Wrangler more livable, and indeed it boasts an available four-door body style, a more contemporary interior, strong V6 power and added safety and convenience features. But die-hard Jeep enthusiasts shouldn't be too worried. The latest Wrangler stays true to its original purpose of providing rugged off-road capability and distinctive style, with creature comforts a distant third. Love it or hate it, the Wrangler just keeps on marching to its own beat.
Current Jeep Wrangler
The current Wrangler is available in two body styles: a short-wheelbase two-door or the long-wheelbase four-door Unlimited. Both come in bare-bones Sport, midlevel Sahara or hard-core Rubicon trim. 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 gearing. A six-speed manual transmission with hill-start assist is standard, while a five-speed automatic is optional. This engine is quite the revelation, endowing the traditionally ponderous Wrangler with both quick acceleration and decent fuel economy.
In reviews, we've noted that the Wrangler remains the go-to choice among serious off-roaders thanks to its compact dimensions (provided you choose the two-door version), high ground clearance, steep approach and departure angles and no-nonsense four-wheel-drive system with an aggressive low-range function. Even the most basic Wrangler can venture places that most mass-market vehicles could never dream of. 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 the trade-off is worth it for true fans, 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.