Jeep Wrangler SUV
Price £31,840 - £36,435
- Removable hard-top
- Excellent off-road ability
- Cheaper to buy than rivals
- Very uncomfortable
- Dubious interior quality
- Expensive to run
At a glance
“The Jeep Wrangler is incredibly impressive over rough terrain but compromised as a road car.”
The Jeep Wrangler is, without question, incredibly impressive off-road. Should you wish to cross a desert, drive over a mountain range or ford a river, the Wrangler is one of the most capable cars in the world. For most of us, though, the only jungle we need to traverse is urban and, in this or any other conventional setting, the Wrangler falls behind the competition by some margin.
The Wrangler's closest competitor used to be the Land Rover Defender, but that car is no longer on sale. If you need a tough off-roader and aren’t too fussed about on-road driving manners, the Mitsubishi Shogun is easier to live with and similarly tough. The immeasurably superior Land Rover Discovery Sport, meanwhile, may not be quite as capable off road as the Wrangler, but it's not far off.
If you’re sold on the iconic looks and go-anywhere ability, choosing the right Wrangler is a simple affair: first, decide if you want the two-door or the four-door model; then, pick either a 2.8-litre diesel or a 3.6-litre petrol engine; finally, choose your trim level – either Overland, Sahara or Rubicon. We recommend the four-door diesel model in Sahara trim for its practicality, economy and equipment list – though note that whatever the specification, the Wrangler is a very expensive car to run.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Expensive to buy, run and tax
Anyone with a tight budget should look away now: the most economical Wrangler (the three-door diesel) returns just 34.9mpg and emits 213g/km of CO2, resulting in road tax of £295 a year. If you choose the petrol engine you’ll be liable for top-rate road tax of £515 a year, while fuel economy drops to 25mpg. For comparison, an entry-level Land Rover Discovery Sport returns 57.6mpg and costs just £110 a year in tax.
With running costs like these, the Wrangler only makes sense if you’re going to use it off-road regularly. For most of us, efficiency figures like that are very hard to justify, and a petrol-engined Wrangler actually uses more fuel than a Ferrari California.
Engines, drive & performance
Impressive off-road but hard to live with as an everyday car
As we’ve mentioned, get caught in a sticky situation and you’ll be glad you bought a Wrangler. On almost any normal road, though, you may wish you chose something else. The Wrangler’s soft suspension may mean it can go over rockier surfaces than many other cars, but that translates into disconcerting body lean when cornering. The overall driving experience is at best described as utilitarian, and at worst agricultural.
In fairness, the Wrangler is reasonably fast for a car that weighs over two tonnes: the 197bhp 2.8-litre diesel goes from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, while the 280bhp 3.6-litre petrol version does the same in 8.1 seconds. Another strength is a 2,200kg towing ability (with the five-door diesel model).
Interior & comfort
The Wrangler interior feels cheap and is fairly uncomfortable
Despite costing as much as a well-specced BMW 3 Series, the Wrangler has an interior that would come in for criticism in all but the cheapest cars. The plastics are of poor quality, the seats are uncomfortable and unsupportive, while once on the move, the engine is noisy. Factor in an unsettled suspension and you’re left with a car with unquestionable off-road credentials but compromised on-road manners.
For some, however, this ‘characterful’ driving experience is all part of the Wrangler’s charm and, on a more positive note, we found wind noise on the motorway to be surprisingly low considering the Wrangler’s boxy shape.
Practicality & boot space
The four-door model makes some concessions towards practicality
Despite being longer and taller than the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the four-door Jeep Wrangler isn’t that practical. The 498-litre boot is reasonable, but by no means exceptional for an SUV. Other nods to everyday usability include 60:40 split-folding rear seats and a split-opening tailgate, to make loading objects easier. Be warned that if you choose the two-door model, it comes with a tiny 142-litre boot.
The Wrangler does have one party trick, though: it’s technically a convertible. True, the hardtop is heavy and removing it is a two-person operation (although it comes apart in three sections) and you’ll have to find somewhere to store it, but for some, the Wrangler’s standing as a convertible SUV is unique and unparalleled – or at least it was, until the Range Rover Evoque Convertible came along.
Reliability & safety
Being a simple car means there’s little to go wrong
While the Wrangler sells in too few numbers to have featured in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Jeep as a brand has made improvements in recent years, something that was reflected in its 11th place finish (out of 32 manufactures) in our latest poll. A 31st place ranking for reliability may be questionable, but Jeep owners praise their cars’ practicality, ease of driving and comfort.
Safety is harder to gauge: the Wrangler hasn’t been put through Euro NCAP’s crash testing programme, so making an assessment in this area is difficult. All cars obviously come with mandatory safety equipment like electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, and you also get airbags, a rollover protection system, in addition to a padded metal rollover bar for added protection when the roof is off.
Price, value for money & options
The Wrangler does come with a decent amount of equipment as standard
The Wrangler’s interior may not scream quality, but it does come with a reasonable amount of equipment. All cars get air-conditioning, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, that fun (until you have to take it off or put it on) removable hard top, an Alpine stereo and automatic headlights.
Moving from Sahara trim to Overland costs about £1,400 and adds heated leather seats, larger alloy wheels and makes the removable hard top body coloured, rather than black. Again, credit where it’s due: that’s a generous amount of equipment for the money, and we recommend the higher-spec trim as a result.
There's also a 'special order' Rubicon version, which means while you can buy one, it'll have to be ordered specially from the factory, and may take longer to deliver as a result. Among the highlights here are heated leather seats, satin black alloy wheels and rubber mats designed to keep mud off the carpets.