What's the used Jeep Wrangler 4x4 like?
If you stop and think about it, the Jeep has done more to shape modern life than almost any other vehicle built to date. It played a crucial role in WW2 getting troops and supplies to the front line; it’s given birth to the idea that cars can be recreational vehicles and, without Jeep, we wouldn’t have Land Rover. However, the world it once saved has moved on, which begs the question, does a used Jeep Wrangler still make sense today?
When the Jeep was initially conceived, it was a simple, rugged off road vehicle – traits that can still be seen in this third generation Wrangler. In terms of like-for-like rivals, the Wrangler has few challengers; if you don’t mind something smaller, you might include the Suzuki Jimny. Or, if you need something equally big, then the Land Rover Defender would also fit the bill.
Neither rival has quite the power of the Wrangler, though. Most second-hand examples you'll find will be powered by a 174bhp (later 197bhp) 2.8-litre diesel engine. The more off road-worthy version, meanwhile, named Rubicon after the famous overland trail, comes with a choice of two petrol engines: a 199bhp 3.8-litre six-cylinder or a 284bhp 3.6-litre V6 after a facelift in 2011. Few will have the rather agricultural six-speed manual; most examples imported got the five-speed automatic as standard fit.
Alongside the traditional two-door short wheelbase variant, this was the first generation of Wrangler to include a more practical four-door body. While the shorter Wrangler is well suited to those who off road, the bigger four-door is a better all-rounder. Passengers gain easier access to the rear seats, and there’s a decent sized boot behind the rear bench.
Interior quality isn’t the Wrangler’s greatest asset; there's lots of hard, cheap feeling materials covering every surface. This is partially justified, though, by the fact that you can drive the two-door Jeep with its doors and roof removed and windscreen lying flat against the bonnet, so it has to be able to withstand a bit of rain and be hardy enough to wash mud out with a hose. Mind you, neither the Defender nor Jimny are known for luxurious interiors, either. Things did improve slightly from the 2011 facelift when a better infotainment system was added.
As you’ve probably guessed by the extremely short front and rear overhangs, the Wrangler is not primarily intended to be used on the road – it’s built with hitting the trail in mind. To that end, you’ll have to forgive the steering that's deliberately vague to prevent the wheel from being ripped from your grasp over tricky off-road obstacles. Similarly, its soft, long travel suspension – fitted for maximum axle articulation on . rough terrain – does nothing to help agility on tarmac. This all makes for a rather miserable on road drive, especially if you’ve got a Rubicon version – its chunky mud/terrain tyres generate a lot of road roar.
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