The Wrangler is Jeepís most recognized most and capable model.
This ready-for-anything vehicle can trace its lineage right back to the original military-grade Willys MA that debuted just in time for the Second World War. In fact, todayís model still features the same body proportions, is equipped with live axles at both ends, and has a spare tire mounted vertically at the rear, traits that go all the way back to 1941.
In case you have trouble with math (like I do), todayís Wrangler represents 75 years of heritage. Countless other automakers have come and gone in that time, but Jeep remains. Itís undoubtedly one of FCAís strongest brands, with more than 865,000 units delivered in 2015.
I recently evaluated the 2016 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, a mid-range four-door model, and I learned a lot about it during my stint in the driverís seat. Accordingly, here are the six most important things I learned about Jeepís ever-popular Wrangler.
6. Go-Anywhere Confidence
With massive iron beams supporting it front and rear plus knobby tires, four-wheel drive and more ground clearance than the height of a 95th percentile toddler, this vehicle is designed to tackle the gnarliest off-road trails. It can go just about anywhere you want, every season of the year, and through any weather conditions. Capability is the name of the game here and the Wrangler excels where the pavement ends. Go ahead and get a little dirty, the Wrangler will laugh in your face and ask for more.
5. Chryslerís Pentastar V6 is an ENGINEering Masterpiece
Iím a big fan of Chryslerís 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. This punchy engine works just as well in a Dodge Charger as it does in one of Ramís pickups, itís brilliant in the 200 sedan and even a Caravan. Predictably, itís just as enticing when bolted under a Wranglerís boxy hood. In this application, it delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Another benefit of the Pentastar is that itís one of the smoothest running bent-sixes on the market today.
4. The Five-Speed Automatic Transmission Is Awful
But for all of this engineís refinement and power, it was paired with an antiquated five-speed automatic transmission in the Wrangler I tested. This gearbox is like a Throwback Thursday to the old DaimlerChrysler days, and thatís not something to celebrate. For the most part, this transmission behaved itself, but on random occasions, you could catch it off guard and it would slam into gear on upshifts. The available six-speed manual would have been much nicer.
3. Itís Quieter Than You Might Expect
The Wrangler is impressively quiet underway. No, itís not the most silent vehicle on the market, but when you consider that it has the proportions of an apple crate and stands as tall as a pickup truck, the fact that it doesnít sound like a regional jet on takeoff leaves you scratching your head. Obviously, thereís no way to fool the slipstream; this rig will never compete with a Prius when it comes to aerodynamics, but engineers still did a damn fine job civilizing this ever-capable brute.