Jeep Wrangler SUV
Price £30,225 - £35,150
- Removable hard-top
- Excellent off-road ability
- Cheaper to buy than rivals
- Very uncomfortable
- Poor resale values
- Expensive to run
At a glance
"Tough and immensely capable off-road, the Jeep Wrangler offers back-to-basics thrills and an uncompromising focus on 4x4 ability."
The Jeep Wrangler can go where most other cars simply can't – the big question is whether you would want to go there in it.
Wrangler fans would describe it as a large, rugged, formidable off-roader that dominates the road and can trace its origins back to the iconic US military Jeep of the Second World War.
Critics would point out that luxury and comfort have been completely neglected – and while the current Wrangler is a bit better on-road than its predecessors, it's still nowhere near good enough to compete with SUVs and 4x4s from the likes of Land Rover. Resale values on the used market are pretty poor as a result.
The Jeep Wrangler comes in two main specifications: entry-level Sahara and top-of-the-range Overland.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Heavy on fuel and expensive to tax
We'll let the numbers do the talking: 35mpg fuel economy (at best) and 213g/km CO2 emissions mean the Wrangler definitely won't be cheap to run, with road tax coming in at £290 a year. But the figures aren't that bad when you consider the sheer bulk that's being lugged around. Ultimately, these running costs can only be justified if you genuinely need the Wrangler's considerable off-road ability. Paying that sort of money just to go to the shops and back doesn't make much sense.
Engines, drive & performance
Much better off-road than on it
If you want an SUV that drives as well on the road as off it, don't buy a Wrangler. The current version performs better on the road than its predecessors, yet it's still pretty utilitarian to drive. The 2.8-litre engine drinks diesel heavily, but it does generate 174bhp of potent pulling power to get you up steep slopes.
This car never feels fast, mainly due to its size, but its considerable power at low speeds makes it handy on slippery or rough surfaces. Plus, it's ideal for towing. But as soon as you take it on the road, the soft suspension starts to throw you around and you realise that it's well and truly out of its comfort zone.
Interior & comfort
Not comfortable, quiet or luxurious
The Wrangler isn't a comfortable car. Its diesel engine is very loud, clattering a lot especially when driven fast. Surprisingly, given the Wrangler's mammoth size and brick-like shape, wind noise is actually not that bad, but this car will still test your sanity on the motorway. The ride is harsh and bumpy, while the seats don't really hold you in place very well. Finally, the dashboard and other fixtures are made of hard, cheap-looking plastic.
Practicality & boot space
Four-door offers space and convertible option
You'd normally associate a big 4x4 with practicality, but the Wrangler is only average in this department. It comes in two and four-door forms, and we prefer the latter, because it makes getting into the back seats easier. Also, its 498-litre boot is much more useful than the almost-pointless 142-litre capacity of the two-door.
You can take the solid roof off, transforming the Wrangler into a four-door, four-seater convertible, but it's a very tricky and time-consuming process. The rear seats do split 60:40 and fold, and the tailgate splits to make loading the boot easier, too.
Reliability & safety
Wrangler is basic, so there isn't much to go wrong
The Jeep brand was ranked 18th in our Driver Power 2013 customer survey, reflecting the brand's solid reputation for reliability. The Wrangler is pretty robust thanks to years of development, testing and use in the harshest of conditions. But its reliability is difficult to gauge, as the model's rarity has kept it out of customer surveys for some time.
The car's mechanical components are pretty basic and well proven and there's much less to go wrong than on most other cars. The Wrangler hasn't been put through the Euro NCAP crash safety test, but its sheer mass should see it stand up well in a collision, plus it has two airbags, electronic stability control and ISOFIX child-seat mounts as standard.
Price, value for money & options
Good spec for the money, but poor resale value
You'd never call the Wrangler cheap, but you do get a decent amount of car (and equipment) for your money. Air-conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise control, leather seats and the removable hard top are all standard, so you get more kit for a lower price than the Land Rover Defender. But the Defender is almost depreciation-proof, whereas the Wrangler's value drops like a stone once you drive it off the forecourt. The Defender is simply a better all-round package.