Overview & Reviews
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.
Used Jeep Wrangler Models
The current, third-generation Jeep Wrangler debuted for the 2007 model year. It's larger and more refined than the previous generation. Key changes include a stiffer structure and more insulation for a quieter (though still raucous) ride; the introduction of a four-door variant (known as the Wrangler Unlimited); and added power under the hood, with the big bump coming in 2012. Styling is familiar, but although the standard Wrangler retains roughly the same short length as before, its increased width helps to improve passenger comfort.
Until 2012, the only engine available was a 3.8-liter V6 that produced a rather anemic 202 hp and 237 lb-ft of torque. The arrival of the "Pentastar" 3.6-liter V6 put unprecedented pep in the Wrangler's step, and it brought a new five-speed automatic that replaced the four-speed unit offered with the 3.8-liter engine. A rear-drive version of the Unlimited was also available until 2012. Prior to 2011, the Wrangler's cabin featured lower-quality materials and a less visually appealing design. There were fewer luxury and convenience items available, while stability control was not standard.
Another notable change is that the standard vinyl soft top was harder to remove prior to a design tweak implemented for 2010. The Unlimited's roof was improved further for 2013, along with the seats in all Wranglers.
The previous, second generation of the Wrangler bowed in 1997 after a one-year hiatus, and marked a return to the classic Jeep face with its round headlights. It was sold through the 2006 model year. A new dash modestly modernized the cabin upon its debut, while a coil-spring suspension improved on-road comfort. Dual front airbags and the option of antilock brakes made the Wrangler safer, too. Of course, all the ingredients (such as generous ground clearance, skid plates and a crawl gear for the transfer case) that made the original CJ so capable off-road remained.
Base SE (2.5-liter, 120-hp inline-4), Sport (4.0-liter, 190-hp inline-6, fancy wheels and graphics) and Sahara (4.0-liter six, air-conditioning, upgraded upholstery, CD player) trims were offered initially. By 2003, the Wrangler "X" (slotted above the SE and featuring the inline-6) and "Rubicon" (featuring hardcore off-road equipment such as a super-low range in the transfer case, 31-inch tires and locking Dana axles front and rear) trims debuted. Transmission choices included a five-speed manual and three-speed automatic, the latter upgraded to a four-speed unit for 2003.
In 2004, Jeep introduced the Wrangler Unlimited model; it still had only two doors, but a 10-inch wheelbase stretch provided a significant increase in rear legroom and cargo capacity. A Rubicon version of the Unlimited arrived the following year, and a six-speed manual gearbox replaced the five-speed.
In reviews, we praised the second-generation Jeep Wrangler for its off-road agility and personality, but scorned the plastic side windows, fussy soft top and poor fuel economy. We deemed it fair at best for commuter duty, considering the vehicle's loud and busy ride at freeway speeds. After logging some miles in a Rubicon version, we decided its immense off-road capacity was beyond compare, but braking distances (even with ABS) were long, gas mileage was mediocre, and as a daily driver it was simply too harsh and bouncy on the blacktop. The standard, non-Rubicon version of the Wrangler Unlimited had slightly better road manners, thanks to its longer wheelbase and revised suspension tuning.
Consumer feedback on this Wrangler is generally favorable, with most folks enjoying the fun factor despite echoing our sentiments about the annoying soft top and fuel mileage. Reliability is a mixed bag, with a few respondents citing many troubles where others had none.
The first Jeep Wrangler (1986-'95) had square headlights and, on some trims, monochromatic fender flares and rocker panel extensions, the latter an odd "of the times" styling touch on such a retro vehicle. Initially, a choice of a 2.5-liter four or a 4.2-liter six-cylinder engine was offered, and buyers could get a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic. One of the biggest improvements during this generation came for 1991, when a new, 4.0-liter inline-6 with 180 hp replaced the ancient 4.2-liter unit that had just 112 hp. Trim levels during this time ranged from base S through Islander, Sahara and top-of-the-line Laredo and, after 1990, Renegade.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 1,705.00
Second Transmission Stinks Too - 2007 Jeep Wrangler
By Paid for by Xhubby - December 30 - 1:36 am
Only 4K miles and now looking at a possible third transmission. Have been without the car for more than 5 weeks. An annoying rattle turned into a much larger problem: I would depress the clutch, the shifter would then pop out of gear into neutral without even touching it. Then, while driving and in gear, the shifter would simply pop out and into neutral. No clutch action necessary. Now on the second transmission. Very loud all around gearbox; difficult to shift--esp into third. Last night, went to start it: depressed clutch and stepped once on gas pedal and released: next thing I know, engine totally revs like I am still stepping on the gas! SCARY! I just want a replacement--auto trans now!
Love It - 2010 Jeep Wrangler
By Jon - December 29 - 8:56 pm
Had my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited for 3 weeks and I LOVE IT. This is the most fun I have had in a vehicle without going off road yet! I get a lot of compliments from people driving next to me when they see the top down and doors off. Great ride!
I bought a Lemon - 2005 Jeep Wrangler
By Surfwind - December 29 - 3:00 pm
My vehicle only has 3,100 miles. At 1,700 miles the oil pressure dropped. Dealer had to special order a new camshaft sensor drive that attaches to the oil pump. At 3,100 miles the same problem arises. Dealer is having a difficult time diagnosing problem and contacting Chrysler/Jeep. Have no idea of what is causing this problem. Vehicle is 2005 Jeep Wrangler with 4.0 liter engine.
It's a Jeeper's Review - 2002 Jeep Wrangler
By Colorado Brad - December 27 - 10:00 am
I read another review - a lady said it "flips" so I got rid of it. Uh, perhaps drivers ed. would be in order, ma'am. My Jeep is a superior performer - remember what Jeeps are built to do. Off-road. My TJ is unmatched in off- road performance and has been totally reliable.
The Best Car Ever - 2002 Jeep Wrangler
By this car stinks - December 27 - 10:00 am
The Jeep brand is already the best type of car available, but the new TJ takes the cake. It is perfect in every catagory exept fuel economy, but hey, it is an SUV right? I hate all that Honda and Toyota SUV crap because its not real. That goes for pretty much every other SUV on the market as well. It is freeing to drive with the top down and music from the soundbar, almost like a religious experiance exept better. This thing cannot be beat. It is the best offroad vehicle in the world. Dont be fooled any imitations, get a Jeep.
Amazing - 2006 Jeep Wrangler
By Francine - December 27 - 3:46 am
Great vehicle. Amazing in all weather. Does whatever you ask it to. Indestructible to anything.
What a difference - 2009 Jeep Wrangler
By Janson - December 24 - 6:56 pm
I owned a 95 wrangler,which I loved but what an improvement they have made. Better ride, no whistling through the windows and with the addition of the four doors, much easier entry. The passenger room in the back is better than most of the other suvs I looked at. If you get the stick sift make sure you get the 3.73 gear and not the 3.21 ratio the difference in performance is like night and day.
Unlimited Offroad - 2004 Jeep Wrangler
By Vinnie - December 20 - 1:03 pm
My third Jeep without a single problem. The offroad capabilities are second to none. I drive on black diamond trails. The trails only a Jeep can handle. The Unlimited Wrangler has a smooth ride and handles well on the road. I would recommend to anyone.
Excellent Choice - 2002 Jeep Wrangler
By kwrhodes - December 18 - 10:00 am
A Jeep is a Jeep -- you must know that going in. It won't get good mileage, it has a rough ride, and it is "plain Jane" on the inside. But, IT'S A JEEP and I love it. This is my second one and it is just as much fun as the first. I highly recommend a Jeep to anyone who wants to have a true original off-road vehicle.
It's a Jeep, can't complain - 1999 Jeep Wrangler
By bob - December 17 - 8:46 pm
Fun to drive year round. I took it mudding and not have have it in four wheel drive. It a Jeep can do about anything