Jeep Wrangler review

Category: Family SUV

If you don’t plan to go off-roading, the Wrangler isn't for you, but if you do, it's a 4x4 you need to consider

Jeep Wrangler front driving
  • Jeep Wrangler front driving
  • Jeep Wrangler rear driving
  • Jeep Wrangler dashboard
  • Jeep Wrangler boot
  • Jeep Wrangler off-road controls
  • Jeep Wrangler wading through water
  • Jeep Wrangler climbing rocky path
  • Jeep Wrangler climbing rocky path
  • Jeep Wrangler front wheel
  • Jeep Wrangler rear seats
  • Jeep Wrangler front driving
  • Jeep Wrangler rear driving
  • Jeep Wrangler dashboard
  • Jeep Wrangler boot
  • Jeep Wrangler off-road controls
  • Jeep Wrangler wading through water
  • Jeep Wrangler climbing rocky path
  • Jeep Wrangler climbing rocky path
  • Jeep Wrangler front wheel
  • Jeep Wrangler rear seats
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Even if you’re not remotely interested in off-roading, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Jeep Wrangler. An icon that can trace its roots back to the original military Jeep of the 1940s, it's an uncompromising 4x4 that's designed to be just about unstoppable in the rough.

There have been numerous updates over the years, with the latest round giving it a slightly meaner looking front grille and more in-car tech. However, the fundamentals remain the same: an old-school ladder-frame chassis with the body bolted on top, as well as rugged, beam-like axles front and rear.

Jeep also continues to equip the Wrangler with selectable four-wheel drive that can be engaged using a big lever for added Indiana Jones effect. And there’s still the option of taking the roof and doors off – yes, off – for the open-air feel of being on safari.

So, while we class it as a family SUV, this is no school-run special. Instead, the Wrangler is up against such rugged models as the Ford Ranger Raptor and Ineos Grenadier. The Land Rover Defender is a rival, too – although the latest Defender is designed to provide a bit more luxury on road.

Read on to find out more about how the Jeep Wrangler compares with the competition and which version is best...

Overview

If you don’t plan to leave the Tarmac, the Jeep Wrangler is not the car for you – a Land Rover Defender is much more comfortable and refined. However, if you're looking for the best off-roader around, the Wrangler Rubicon is where we'd point you. With off-road goodies such as standard-fit knobbly tyres, three differential locks and a detachable anti-roll bar, it will go places that stop a Defender in its tracks.

  • Fantastic off-road ability
  • Good standard equipment
  • Undercuts key rivals on price
  • Noisy, regardless of speed and road surface
  • Expensive to run
  • Unsettled ride
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Our Pick

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Jeep Wrangler 2.0 GME Rubicon 4dr Auto8 review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

There's no denying that the Jeep Wrangler feels like an old-school off-roader. Its big, heavy axles amplify the effect of imperfect surfaces and cause the body to shimmy in a way that you simply don’t experience in the more sophisticated and settled Land Rover Defender. 

There's also a noticeable amount of suspension noise when you drive over potholes and raised drain covers. Plus, the chunky tyres generate plenty of road roar at higher speeds, which adds to the wind noise whipped up by the boxy body – something especially noticeable in fabric-roofed variants.

However, compared with the Ineos Grenadier – with its complete lack of steering feel – the Wrangler responds to your inputs in a surprisingly trustworthy manner. And while even moderate cornering speeds can overwhelm the grip reserves of the tyres (especially with the off-road-biased rubber fitted to Rubicon models), the steering does a good job of letting you know exactly how much grip is available.

Only one engine is available for the Wrangler in the UK: a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, which comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. This engine doesn't sound as sonorous as the six-cylinder units in the Ford Ranger Raptor or the Grenadier, but with an official 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds, it has plenty of punch and is pleasingly smooth.

Jeep Wrangler image
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The only thing that stunts on-road performance is that the gearbox is slow to respond to accelerator inputs, although this can be overcome by knocking it into manual mode and changing gears yourself using the Tonka-toy style gear lever. 

Speaking of levers, to ensure you have optimum traction off road, there's a separate one on the centre console that takes you from two to four-wheel drive, as well as allowing you to switch between different four-wheel-drive modes. It’s a good deal stiffer to move than the gear lever, but that feels in keeping with the car's overall sense of toughness.

Once you select four-wheel drive, you can lock the centre differential so the front and rear axles get equal amounts of power at all times. The low-range gearbox gives you finer control of the accelerator pedal at low speeds and multiplies the engine’s torque for climbing steep slopes.

On the heavily rutted off-road route at our test track, that combination made the Wrangler far less prone to bogging down than the Grenadier and Defender, both of which got stuck on a rough hill that it simply sailed up. 

The Rubicon version maximises the all-terrain potential. As well as chunkier tyres, you get locking front and rear differentials to further improve traction on slippery surfaces.

Now, the idea of having to manually lock and unlock differentials might sound intimidating, but Jeep has made it super easy. If you want to lock the front and rear at the same time, you simply flip a rocker switch. To unlock them, you press a big red button labelled ‘Off’.

True, the Grenadier gets front and rear locking differentials too, but it requires you to follow a multi-step process, and getting it wrong can confuse the system, preventing engagement.

Most impressive of all, the Rubicon features a clever detachable anti-roll bar that allows for even more suspension travel. Once unlocked, the sensation is rather strange, with the body staying upright regardless of how rough the terrain is. No rivals offer this feature, and when combined with all the other off-road kit, it makes the Wrangler the most capable off-roader on sale today.

“The Wrangler has a wading depth of 760mm, which is more than you're ever likely to need.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Driving overview

Strengths Incredible off-road performance; impressive acceleration; easy to use differentials 

Weaknesses Quite a lot of road noise; unsettled ride; limited on-road grip

Jeep Wrangler rear driving

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

If you appreciate a commanding driving position, you’ll enjoy being behind the wheel of the Jeep Wrangler. You climb up into the seat and get a great view down the long bonnet and on to the road ahead.

Add in tall windows and beefy wheelarches that clearly mark out the corners of the car, and this big 4x4 is remarkably easy to place when you're navigating narrow green lanes or tight car parks. Meanwhile, the presence of a reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors as standard also helps with manoeuvring.

Less impressive is the fact that the centre console intrudes into the space where you'd ideally place your left foot. The same compromise is present in the Ineos Grenadier – both cars force you into an unnatural position that can cause cramp after a while, which isn't the case in the Land Rover Defender

Interior quality has certainly improved since the 2007-2018 Wrangler. There’s soft-touch plastic around the centre console and on the door handles, a supple leather steering wheel and solid-feeling switches. Sure, it’s no Audi Q5 but then that's a far more road-focused car.

All Wranglers now get a 12.3in touchscreen infotainment system that offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. The screen is responsive and within close reach, while the graphics are fairly sharp.

Our only complaint is that some of the menu lists are quite extensive, meaning the option you want can be hard to find. That's not helped by the use of small text. The Defender's infotainment system is simpler to use.

“I like the way the Wrangler's screen can show off-road-specific data, such as the angle you’re driving at and the temperatures of the mechanical gubbins beneath you.” – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

Interior overview

Strengths Solid build quality; infotainment packed with off-road features; good visibility

Weaknesses Compromised driving position; Land Rover Defender's infotainment system is more user-friendly

Jeep Wrangler dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The Jeep Wrangler used to be available in two body lengths, but the shorter, three-door model (which was about the same size as a Mini Countryman) was discontinued in 2023. Instead, the only option now is a five-door (which is closer in size to a BMW X5).

There's plenty of leg and head room up front, although some occupants might feel a little pushed up against the door. Meanwhile, useful oddment storage includes a large central cubby and trays on the dashboard to help make up for the fact that the mesh door pockets are pretty useless.

Back-seat passengers get loads of room, so even your lankiest chums should be comfortable. However, if you need a rugged seven-seater you’ll have to look at the Land Rover Defender.

The official boot capacity figures suggest that the seven-seat Defender 110 also has a much bigger boot than the Wrangler (when the Defender's third row of seats is folded away), but these are misleading because Land Rover measures boot volume to the roof and Jeep the luggage cover. In reality, both cars will swallow up to seven carry-on suitcases.

Where the Defender does have the edge is seating flexibility. Its second-row seats slide, recline and fold flat, whereas the Wrangler's only fold down, and they leave a step down to the boot floor when they do.

Then again, there's another option for transporting bulky loads: the standard three-piece roof design lets you take the top section off or remove the whole thing, allowing you to carry awkward items that would be impossible to accommodate with the roof in place.

You can also spec the Wrangler with a canvas top – which can be folded back like a sunroof or taken off altogether – or an electrically retractable canvas top that provides a full-length sunroof.

“The side-hinged tailgate can be a pain because you can't open it fully if you're parked close to another vehicle or a wall. However, in these situations, the top-hinged glass section does mean you can still drop in smaller items, such as shopping bags” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Spacious rear seats; removable roof and doors; decent oddment storage

Weaknesses Limited elbow room; rubbish mesh door pockets; no seven-seat option

Jeep Wrangler boot

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Jeep Wrangler is not a cheap off-roader but it is priced in-line with the Ford Ranger Raptor and manages to undercut both the Ineos Grenadier and Land Rover Defender.

On the other hand, the Defender has the potential to be much cheaper to run if you choose the P400e plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version. Not only will this be easier on fuel if you plug it in regularly, but company car drivers are taxed on just 16% of its value, whereas the Wrangler attracts the highest, 37% rate.

In some markets, Jeep offers a PHEV Wrangler, called the 4xe, but it's not sold in the UK due to the complications of converting it to right-hand drive.

Entry-level Sahara trim comes with plenty of luxuries as standard, including climate control, ambient interior lighting, heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless go and adaptive cruise control. However, we'd still recommend upgrading to Rubicon trim for the extra off-road hardware that this brings.  

In terms of safety, the Wrangler was awarded just one star out of five when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2018, although that was partly influenced by a lack of driver assistance technology. Since then, Jeep has added blind-spot monitoring, front collision and lane-departure warning systems, and a driver drowsiness detector.

“The Wrangler struggles to do much more than 20mpg in the real world, so you’re likely to end up on first-name terms with the staff at your local petrol station.” – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor

Costs overview

Strengths Plenty of standard kit; undercuts key rivals on price; Rubicon is off-road ready straight out of the showroom

Weaknesses Bad fuel economy; no plug-in hybrid option


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Jeep Wrangler off-road controls

FAQs

  • It depends on how you plan to use it. If you’re looking for a practical family vehicle, on-road focused SUVs such as the BMW X5 make far more sense. However, if you want to venture off-road, the Wrangler is a fantastic choice, especially if you opt for Rubicon trim.

  • The Wrangler is not an inexpensive off-roader but it is priced in line with the Ford Ranger Raptor and manages to undercut both the Ineos Grenadier and the Land Rover Defender. You can find the latest discounts on our New Car Deals pages.

  • The 2.0-litre petrol engine isn’t particularly efficient and is noisy at a cruise, and the Wrangler doesn’t handle very well. Plus, the driving position is compromised due to the fact that there isn't much space for your left foot.

  • In the UK, the Wrangler is available only with a 2.0-litre petrol engine.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £4,877
Target Price from £56,312
Save up to £4,877
or from £717pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £48,799
RRP price range £61,125 - £63,125
Number of trims (see all)2
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 24.8 - 27.2
Available doors options 4
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £4,346 / £4,464
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £8,692 / £8,928
Available colours