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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For A design icon, and superb off the road

Against It's uncomfortable, unrefined and tricky in the wet

Verdict It has a rough and ready charm, but it’s too compromised for mostly on-road use

Go for… 4.0 Sport

Avoid… 2.5 Sport

Jeep Wrangler 4x4
  • 1. It's a very capable off-roader, but it's tricky getting into the back and the boot is tiny
  • 2. Insurance will be dear, with our favourite model, the 4.0 Sport, in group 14
  • 3. Routine maintenance costs match those for larger cars, such as the Land Rover Discovery - not good
  • 4. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the suspension needs regular work
  • 5. Warranty Direct tell us that the steering components are prone to wear
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Jeep Wrangler 4x4 full review with expert trade views

If you’ve ever seen one of the classic Willys Jeeps in action in a war movie, you’ve already got a pretty good idea of what the Wrangler is like. It’s rough, tough and something of a design icon nowadays.

It’s an off-roader – and a capable one at that. So, if you want a real off-road workhorse, this will suit you down to the (muddy) ground. However, if you want a road car, you’ll have to be prepared to put up with a jittery ride, plenty of body roll and precious little in the way of refinement.

Inside, too, it’s obvious that the Wrangler is a workhorse. The interior is spartan, to say the least, and wipe-clean. There’s good space front and rear, although it’s tricky getting into the back, and the boot is tiny.

Trade view

John Owen

Hardcore off roaders only, no manners on tarmac

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

There’s very little choice in terms of engines in the Wrangler. The mainstay of the range has always been the 4.0-litre engine, but there was also a 2.5-litre unit. However, that was dropped in mid-2001, leaving the larger engine as the only choice. Still, that’s no bad thing, as the six-cylinder 4.0-litre was always our favourite, giving the Wrangler an impressive turn of speed without drastically consuming more fuel.

Likewise, there’s not much choice in terms of trim level. The 2.5 only ever came in Sport trim, and the 4.0-litre offered a simple choice between Sport and the more lavish (well, it had air-con) Sahara. However, given the Wrangler’s back-to-basics nature, we’d stick with the Sport.

Perhaps a bigger question is whether to go for the hard- or soft-top. Going for the soft top does give you a decent wind-in-the-hair experience, but it’s ludicrously difficult to remove and refit.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Specialist market needs to be Sahara Hard top for maximum appeal

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Wrangler works out as a quite a cheap buy. Mind you, you could argue that you’re not getting a lot of car for your money, so that’s perhaps fair enough.

However, what’s certain is that running a Wrangler demands deep pockets. Official figures show that even the 2.5-litre returns less than 25mpg on the combined cycle. The 4.0-litre is even worse, and you’re unlikely to see much more than 20mpg from either engine in everyday driving.

Insurance will also be dear, with our favourite 4.0 Sport in group 14. A Land Rover Defender will be cheaper to fuel and insure, and cars like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, which are more road-biased, will be cheaper still.

Routine maintenance costs match those for larger cars, such as the Land Rover Discovery, which is not good.

Trade view

John Owen

Hardcore off roaders only, no manners on tarmac

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

A number of recalls have affected the Wrangler, but perhaps the most worrying was a 1999 recall, which centred on concerns that the fuel gauge might mis-read. There was also a recall for cars built in 2001 and 2002, to deal with a potential fire risk.

Warranty Direct has no separate figures for the Wrangler, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the suspension needs regular work and the steering components are prone to wear. Certainly, the omens from other Jeeps aren’t good. The Cherokee, for example, is one of the most problematic cars on the company’s books, with over half of the problems coming from the suspension and running gear.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Specialist market needs to be Sahara Hard top for maximum appeal

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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