2009 Jeep Wrangler Review

Pros & Cons

  • Superior off-road ability, fun to drive around town, rough-and-tumble image, choice of two- and four-door versions, upscale navigation system.
  • Noisy with standard soft top, finicky soft top operation, mediocre acceleration and on-road handling, no power mirrors, too many hard plastic contact points, security issues with zippered windows, poor side-impact crash test ratings without side airbags.
List Price Range
$12,700 - $19,500

Used Wrangler for Sale
Select your model:
See all for sale

Get More For Your Trade-In

Get More For Your Trade-In

Edmunds shoppers get on average $235 more for their trade-in.
Receive offers from our dealer partners fast.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2009 Jeep Wrangler can't be beat for heritage, image and no-compromises off-road ability. But compared to some other SUVs, it lacks refinement and power.

Vehicle overview

Baseball superstar Manny Ramirez gets away with a lot -- he's been known to disappear behind Fenway's Green Monster during pitching changes to relieve himself or talk on his cell phone. The 2009 Jeep Wrangler also gets away with a lot, too. By nearly all conventional measures, it's a horrid passenger vehicle that seems to combine the worst of all worlds. It's slow yet gets poor gas mileage, it rides stiffly yet handles poorly and the cabin features an abundance of hard plastic along with doors that provide all the crash protection of a trash can.

However, the Jeep Wrangler is the vehicular equivalent of the quirky Manny being Manny -- it too is cut major slack because it's very good at what it does. Rather than being able to consistently get the big hit, the Jeep Wrangler consistently is a hit in areas where other SUVs fear to tread and with outdoorsy folks who want nothing less than the most capable off-road vehicle available. Without question, the 2009 Jeep Wrangler is for those who want to reach the most remote locations possible using something with four wheels and a roof (rather than four legs with hooves). They probably also love the macho image associated with this icon that's been around in one form or another since the 1940s.

A number of unique features contribute to the Wrangler's charm and formidable rough-terrain abilities. If you're looking for the most invigorating exposure to the great outdoors this side of a dual-sport motorcycle, this is your ride. The top goes down, the doors come off and the windshield can fold down onto the hood (albeit with great effort). Meanwhile, the 10.2 inches of ground clearance, the steep approach and departure angles and the two-door's short wheelbase make the Wrangler the go-to vehicle for serious off-roading. If the Wrangler can't get you there, then you should probably consider traveling by helicopter.

Those willing to give up a little mountain goat-like agility off the beaten path in exchange for more passenger and cargo space have the four-door Wrangler model, called the Unlimited. There is a price to pay, however, for driving the only four-door convertible SUV offered in modern times, as that manual top takes two patient and strong people – hopefully, one who's tall and well-versed in mechanical engineering -- to lower and raise.

Even if you choose the Wrangler Unlimited, don't expect anything nearly as comfortable or quiet as other Jeeps and SUVs. Should your trail-busting requirements be somewhat less heroic, consider the Nissan Xterra or the Toyota FJ Cruiser, as they offer plenty of off-road ability and macho image without requiring one to put up with Wrangler being Wrangler.

2009 Jeep Wrangler models

The 2009 Jeep Wrangler is a small (in two-door form) SUV with a convertible top. It's offered in three trim levels (X, Sahara and Rubicon) and two body styles (regular two-door and the extended-wheelbase, four-door Unlimited). Regular doors are standard, but customers can opt for half-doors with plastic windows if they wish on either body style's X or Rubicon trim.

The basic Wrangler X is very spartan, although hill start assist and a CD player with an auxiliary audio jack are standard. An optional "B" package adds air-conditioning, upgraded cloth seats and a full-length center console. The "S" package has those features, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, tow hooks, cruise control and a compass/temperature display. Also optional are a modular three-piece hardtop (Freedom top), a sunroof-equipped soft top (Sunrider top), a limited-slip rear differential, power windows and locks, keyless entry, remote engine start, an Infinity audio system, a six-CD/MP3 changer and satellite radio.

In addition to having many of the Wrangler X's optional features as standard (including the Sunrider top), the Wrangler Sahara features 17-inch alloy wheels, body-color fenders, a heavy-duty suspension and upgraded seat fabric. Options for the Sahara include 18-inch alloy wheels and a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage capability. Last, there's the trail-busting Wrangler Rubicon. This model's equipment level falls in between the X and the Sahara but features special drivetrain upgrades for improved off-road ability, electronically disconnecting stabilizer bars and exclusive BFGoodrich off-road tires.

2009 Highlights

For 2009 the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited receive a handful of upgrades, including hill start assist, trailer sway control and a small storage net under the center stack.

Performance & mpg

All 2009 Jeep Wranglers are powered by a 3.8-liter V6 attached to a six-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. The engine produces 202 horsepower and 237 pound-feet of torque. Most Wranglers come with four-wheel drive, complete with high and low gears, although the Unlimited can be had with rear-wheel drive only. In testing, we've found that a Wrangler Unlimited takes a longish 9.7 seconds to reach 60 mph -- and that was the good time. Another Wrangler Unlimited we tested took a sluggish 10.4 seconds. The EPA estimates a 4WD Wrangler's fuel economy at 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined.

Towing capacity when properly equipped is 2,000 pounds for the Wrangler, 3,500 pounds for the Wrangler Unlimited. The towing package also includes trailer sway control, which utilizes the standard stability control system to help prevent the tail from wagging the dog. Wrangler Rubicons have heavy-duty axles, a Rock-Trac transfer case with extra-low gearing, and electronically locking front and rear differentials.

Safety

All Wranglers feature antilock brakes, stability control with a rollover sensor and hill start assist. Front-seat side airbags are optional. In government crash testing, the 2009 Jeep Wrangler earned a perfect five stars in frontal-impact protection. Similarly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Wrangler its highest rating of "Good" for frontal offset impacts. However, without the optional side airbags, the Wrangler's side impact crashworthiness was deemed "Poor" for the two-door (the IIHS's worst rating possible) and only "Marginal" for the four-door Unlimited (the second lowest rating).

Driving

The 2009 Jeep Wrangler, especially in Rubicon guise, is pretty much unstoppable in off-road situations. This is also true for the Unlimited, although its size and weight prevent it from being as maneuverable on tight trails as the two-door model. Although the Wrangler was bred for rugged mountain trails, it is surprisingly fun to drive around the city. Its steering is light but provides plenty of feedback through its thin-rimmed wheel.

The V6 has respectable low-end torque but quickly runs out of breath and is thus completely gutless on the highway and when trying to accelerate quickly. The Wrangler's brakes also leave much to be desired, with long stopping distances.

Interior

Much like the rest of the Wrangler, its interior is of the rough-and-tumble variety. Although niceties like power windows and a navigation system can be added, this is still a vehicle designed to play in the dirt and mud and then be easily cleaned. We're not sure if there is a cause and effect relationship at work here, but the plastics are subsequently hard and unwelcoming -- particularly those that make up the armrests. It's best to throw out any normal interior comfort or quality expectations when buying a Wrangler; otherwise, you might find yourself regretting your purchase.

Whereas the two-door Wrangler's backseat can fit only two, the Unlimited has room for three. The four-door offers 86 cubic feet of cargo space when the second-row seats are folded. The cargo area can also be opened up to greet the sky via the removal of the convertible top. The soft top's operation, however, is rather complicated, with multiple steps involving a variety of clips, clamps, catches, straps, rods and zippers, and people short in stature might find the process especially challenging. The soft top also lacks security -- car thieves can access the cargo area simply by undoing a window zipper.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Jeep Wrangler.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Great Fun but Time to Move On
Rascula,11/13/2015
Unlimited Rubicon 4dr SUV 4WD (3.8L 6cyl 6M)
I bought my 09 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara in June of 2009 and will be honest for the most part it was a great vehicle. It did what I needed it to do getting me wherever I needed to be, protecting my children and I when we were hit by a drunk driver from behind at nearly 40 miles per hour, and the touch screen radio with GPS and HDD were wonderful to have for getting to places and not having a vehicle cluttered with CD's. I rarely took my front top panels off but when I did everyone loved it (cant say how heavy or difficult the back portion was as I never removed it). My torque converter did go bad at 42K miles (thankfully I bought the lifetime warranty on the vehicle which in and of itself paid for the tranny issue), I had to replace the brakes at 65K miles with the rear passenger side shoe sticking and needing a-lot of work, the door hinge bushings were starting to go bad, and finally the O2 sensors (which there are 4 of) went bad twice. I did truly love the vehicle. Visibility was great, the ride was smooth for a 4x4 and it was easy to handle. My main reason for getting rid of it is that the gas mileage is lower than I would have liked and I travel a-lot. I never got more than 21 mpg on the highway (and roughly 50k of the 75k miles I put on it were highway). If you want a fun 4X4 and can get past the lack of mpg and a little less than desirable power the 2009 was a good vehicle (at least for me).
Spoiled brats won't like.
Brian,08/29/2010
Read some of the reviews on this forum, and from what I understand most of them don't understand what they got themselves into. Please don't consider buying a jeep unless you understand your purchase. You aren't buying a luxury car, you are buying one of the finest off roading, highly versatile vehicles on the road today. People that complain about water leaks probably don't understand how to correctly install their top. All and all this is an awesome vehicle to own.
wrangler unlimited fun daily driver
jw44,02/26/2009
I have had my Wrangler 4-door Sahara for 3 months and have had no problems. I have a long daily commute to work, but since I bought my wrangler I don't mind the 68 mile round trip. This Jeep is fun to drive. The 3.8 v6 engine has plenty of power and with 4,000 miles my combined city/highway mileage is 20.6 mpg as of today. My hardtop has no water leaks and is surprisingly quiet at highway speeds. The standard 18" Bridgestone tires are the best rain tires I have ever driven. No snow here in LA (Lower Alabama) but we have plenty of rain.
Off-road beast
SFC EDWIN RAMOS,09/04/2010
The Jeep is not fast and the fuel economy is poor. But the Jeep wrangler, regardless of the trim, is the best off road vehicle that I have ever drive. My first experience was in the jungles of Panama. I saw a Jeep wrangler assigned to the us embassy negotiating hard terrain. After that I promised I would get one.

Features & Specs

MPG
15 city / 19 hwy
Seats 4
6-speed manual
Gas
202 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
15 city / 19 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
202 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
15 city / 19 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
202 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
15 city / 19 hwy
Seats 4
6-speed manual
Gas
202 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2009 Jeep Wrangler

Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler Overview

The Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler is offered in the following submodels: Wrangler SUV. Available styles include X 2dr SUV 4WD (3.8L 6cyl 6M), Unlimited X 4dr SUV 4WD (3.8L 6cyl 6M), Unlimited Sahara 4dr SUV 4WD (3.8L 6cyl 6M), Sahara 2dr SUV 4WD (3.8L 6cyl 6M), Unlimited X 4dr SUV (3.8L 6cyl 4A), Rubicon 2dr SUV 4WD (3.8L 6cyl 6M), Unlimited Rubicon 4dr SUV 4WD (3.8L 6cyl 6M), and Unlimited Sahara 4dr SUV (3.8L 6cyl 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited X is priced between $15,500 and$19,500 with odometer readings between 81609 and115781 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler X is priced between $12,700 and$15,000 with odometer readings between 85214 and100638 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is priced between $17,903 and$17,903 with odometer readings between 132891 and132891 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara is priced between $18,488 and$18,488 with odometer readings between 85709 and85709 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2009 Jeep Wranglers are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2009 Jeep Wrangler for sale near. There are currently 10 used and CPO 2009 Wranglers listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $12,700 and mileage as low as 81609 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2009 Jeep Wrangler.

Can't find a used 2009 Jeep Wranglers you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Jeep Wrangler for sale - 6 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $13,038.

Find a used Jeep for sale - 9 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $13,505.

Find a used certified pre-owned Jeep Wrangler for sale - 5 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $9,664.

Find a used certified pre-owned Jeep for sale - 3 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $14,657.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 Jeep Wrangler?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Jeep lease specials
Check out Jeep Wrangler lease specials