The Wrangler drives exactly how you’d imagine, suitably vague and harsh on road, but more than capable enough off it.
The Wrangler is limited to just two engines – a 2.8-litre diesel or a 3.6-litre petrol V6. The diesel, if you’re mad enough to still be considering the Wrangler, is the engine to go for. It pulls the car along fairly nicely and is ideal for off-roading – maximum torque of 339Ib ft comes in from a lowly 1,600rpm, so there’s plenty of grunt even at low speeds. When accelerating hard the diesel can go from 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds, noisily, and in doing that you can forget about achieving the 36.7mpg official fuel figure!
The petrol V6 option is slightly more powerful, with 209hp – it is a full 2.5 seconds faster from 0-60mph, taking a respectable 8.1 seconds. It is also quieter, some may even say ‘refined’, and far smoother than the diesel offering. However, fuel economy of no better than 25mpg means you certainly pay for degree of sophistication it brings.
Both petrol and diesel are teamed to a smooth-shifting, five-speed automatic gearbox, which helps to explain their low fuel efficiency. It harks back to times gone by where three-speed gearboxes were the norm, but just emphasises the Wrangler’s old design.
It’s worth noting that five-doors models make the better tow cars – the larger diesel can pull a maximum of 2,200kg compared to the smaller versions 1,500kg limit.
Comfort and handling are two words that don’t feature in the Jeep Wrangler’s vocabulary. On the road it crashes about thanks to its unforgiving suspension and chunky off-road tyres. It is nowhere near as good to drive as the aforementioned modern offerings, then again that’s missing the point of the Wrangler.
It is also lacking, unsurprisingly, in the handling department. The steering is incredibly vague which makes you question whether the front wheels are actually connected to the steering. Like riding a stubborn horse, the Wrangler never leaves you feeling like you’re in complete control of what it is doing.
What it will do, though, is take you just about anywhere off-road you want to go, and even on seriously rough surfaces the ride remains acceptable.