Tough and immensely capable off-road; the Jeep Wrangler offers back-to-basics thrills, and an uncompromising focus on 4x4 performance."
Rugged, with huge road presence and amazing off-road ability, the Jeep Wrangler is a tool for going places that most other cars can't. It has evolved from vehicles that Jeep built for military use in the Second World War, and that is reflected in its character today. Luxury and comfort aren't high on the list of priorities, but the current generation of Wrangler is a much better on-road performer than its forebears. The Jeep hasn't caught on nearly as well as the Land Rover Defender in the UK, and resale values are lower as a result.
The Wrangler is a better performer on the road than ever before - though it still feels pretty utilitarian to drive. The 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine returns 28.5mpg and has 174bhp which means plenty of pulling power. The Wrangler doesn’t feel quick, but strong performance at low revs means it's ideal for travelling over rough, slippery surfaces or for towing. A legacy of its off-road ability is soft suspension, making it bouncy and imprecise on the road.
The diesel engine is loud and it clatters - more so when you drive fast. Wind noise isn't actually too bad when you consider the size and brick-like shape of the car. Ride comfort is limited and the seats aren't particularly comfortable either, while the slab-like dashboard is covered in hard, cheap looking plastics.
Two airbags, stability control and Isofix child seat mountings are standard. The Wrangler hasn't been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but it's pretty beefy, so it's likely to stand up well in a crash. Reliability is difficult to gauge, as the Jeep didn't appear in the 2010 Driver Power results, nor was it included in the JD Power survey. The mechanical components are pretty basic and well proven though, so there's less to go wrong than there is on some cars.
Two- and four-door versions of the Jeep Wrangler are available but the latter is our favourite. The former makes accessing the back seats very difficult as there's little room to do so and it has a paltry 142-litre boot. The four-door is better as it offers a respectable 498-litre boot and it's much easier to get into. It's possible - if hugely fiddly - to remove the solid roof, transforming the Wrangler into the only four-door, four-seat convertible on sale in the UK. The back seats split 60/40 and the tailgate splits too, which is useful.
Value for money
It's not particularly cheap, but you get a reasonable amount for your money in the Wrangler. Air-conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise control, leather seats and the removable hard-top are all standard - that's more than the Land Rover Defender gives you. The Jeep is also marginally cheaper than the Defender, so when you factor in the extra equipment, it makes financial sense. The downside is resale values, which are pretty poor.
It's a big, American 4x4, so don't expect low running costs. The diesel engine returns 30.1- and 29.7mpg for the two- and four-door respectively, which isn't bad, considering the Jeep's bulk. Emissions are high at 248- and 252g/km, so you'll pay £425 a year for road tax.