2-dr 70th Anniversary 2.8 CRD Auto
More deserving of the iconic
tag than probably any other make or
vehicle, it enjoys a strong off-roader
following all over the world. But, and
rather unexpectedly, it copes just
as nonchalantly with concrete jungles
as with the real McCoy...
SOME SAY IT'S OLD FASHIONED, and point to the visual similarities with the original
'40s Jeep the classic round headlamps, the slotted grille and
the exposed hinges. But, like its wartime workhorse ancestor, the latest Jeep
Wrangler is built like it is for a purpose. In much the same way that a F1 racer
is built to do a specific job, so too is the Jeep. And I don't hear anyone criticising
the Red Bull RB7 for not having doors or a CD player…
Now look at the Jeep again and note the short front and rear overhangs, the
high ground clearance, the open flared trapezoid wheel arches.
Look closer and you'll discover that the three-piece modular hardtop consists
of left and right front panels and a larger rear section, all of which can be
individually removed. As can the doors. And the front windscreen folds down.
Get the picture?
down on your knees and peer underneath: one look at the separate 'ladder' chassis
is enough to tell you that this Jeep is made to take the worst punishment possible
off-road in its stride.
One look at the separate
ladder chassis is
enough to tell you that
this Jeep is made
to take the worst
in its stride...
This so-called 'old fashioned' set-up also allows maximum suspension articulation
in the rough which, combined with its can-do approach, departure and breakover
angles (respectively 37.8, 31.6 and 24.5 degrees), lets it climb and clamber
over treacherous terrain wherever it may be found. Which explains its 'best-in-class'
The fuel tank is located in the centre of the chassis between the frame rails
and protected by a 2.5mm skid plate for added in-the-rough protection. Rivers
won't stop it either the Jeep can wade 19-inch deep water at 5mph.
So why would you want to drive one on normal roads? Let me quote one of those
intrepid types who climb Everest and trek to the Pole with nothing more than
a pack of Marmite sandwiches because you can. Okay, that's a bit of a
cop-out but the fact is that the latest Jeep also has a civilised, well-mannered
Swing open the short door it opens wide but there's no stay to keep it
open (mostly because this makes it easier to take off the door). Climb up (it's
higher off the ground than it looks and the side-steps aren't there just for
effect), settle back into the sports-shaped leather upholstered driver's seat
and you'll be faced with a dash that could have been lifted from a no-nonsense
family hatch. Did you really think it would be as stark as a battle-prepped
In the top-spec, strictly-limited 70th Anniversary trim you get plenty of kit
underscoring the Jeep's dual purpose as a 'lifestyle' model as much as a hardcore
niche 4x4. These include cruise control, automatic AirCon, heated and leather-trimmed
seats, multifunction wheel (audio, cruise control and handsfree 'phone), heated
power mirrors, tinted glass, compass, drive-off central locking, SatNav, premium
infotainment system (6 speakers and a sub-woofer, 30Gb hard drive, USB port,
Bluetooth streaming audio and CD and DVD playback), voice command, auto lights,
multistage front airbags and 18-inch alloy wheels with 255/70 Bridgestone all-terrain
Other essentials ABS, electronic stability programme, traction control,
hill-start assist, hill descent control, electronic roll mitigation, all-wheel
drive with high/low 'box and tyre pressure monitoring are all present
and controls are straightforward and self-explanatory; the combined audio unit
and SatNav (2D/3D) is no-problem intuitive located high up in the fascia,
it minimises eye-time away from the road while driving.
Room in the front
is better than the short
doors would lead you
And the commanding
view from behind the
wheel, essential for
is equally well suited to
the cut and thrust
of rush hour traffic...
female voice issuing navigation commands is great sexily 'Ab Fab', it
will have the guys stabbing the button on the steering wheel (or the SatNav)
to have her repeat them.
CDs or DVDs, incidentally, load in the slot behind the swivel-out touchscreen.
And to scroll across the map, simply touch and slide your finger across the
screen just like on a smartphone.
Also extremely useful for exploring uncharted areas is the 'record trail' feature
just touch the marked spot on the screen and you won't need the Forest
Rangers to come find you!
Room in the front is better than the short doors would lead you to expect. And
the commanding view from behind the wheel, essential for serious off-roading,
is equally well suited to the cut and thrust of rush hour traffic. The front
seatbelts adjust for height, as does the driver's seat, but the steering wheel
only adjusts for rake. Even so, none of MotorBar's road-test team had a problem
setting a decent driving position.
The front seats are ribbed with side bolstering and proved to as supportive
as they look. And the big-enough-to-share centre armrest was appreciated by
all drivers and front passengers, as too were the door-mounted outer armrests.
The A-pillars are fairly slim, the screen fairly upright and side windows deep
so visibility is good to the front and sides, making the Jeep easy to place
on the road. Rear vision is not bad but somewhat marred by the top of the full-size
tailgate-mounted spare wheel and the rear screen's wiper unit.
Two will fit behind, although entering and exiting the back seats on the two-door
Jeep models requires some flexibility because while both front seats tilt and
slide forwards, it's still a bit tight getting past. Once there, it's surprisingly
comfortable with good views out of the large side windows. A padded but clearly
sturdy roll-cage steals some of the rear cabin space, but then it's there for
Removing the rear roof section converts the Jeep into a pick-up. Leave the roof
in situ, fold and tumble the back seat bench forward, and you'll have a workable
boot. With the rear seats in use, the boot is small but there's a generous in-floor
storage bin. And if it helps, you can quickly remove the complete back seat
assembly simply by pulling on a bar.
useful features include the lift-up all-glass rear screen/hatch, side-hinged
lower tailgate, reversible cargo mat, removable carpets and wash-out interior
(with drain plugs in the floor). For the record, the Jeep's alloys are the easiest
to clean we've ever come across.
You can hear the
2.8-litre diesel working,
most of all when you
heap on the revs;
again, not an issue but
just another part of
Running at fast motorway
speeds, its muted
enough and wasnt in
the least disturbing
even on 150-mile trips...
Off-road there's no substitute for torque. And the Jeep's revised four-cylinder
2.8-litre diesel engine pumps out a very ample 339lb ft of it at 1,600rpm
more than enough to get you though although 0-62mph in 12.9 seconds on the blacktop
is not so slow even if it feels fairly relaxed served up via the five-speed
auto 'box. There's also a manual mode and the top speed is 107mph.
You can hear the 197bhp diesel working, most of all when you heap on the revs;
again, not an issue but just another part of the Jeep's overall charisma. Running
at fast motorway speeds, it's muted enough and wasn't in the least disturbing
even on several 150-mile trips.
A week's running around on country roads, motorways and regular visits to civilisation
for supplies saw an overall average of 27.1mpg officially it does 29.1mpg
in the urban cycle, 39.8mpg extra-urban and 34.9mpg combined. Emissions are
on the high side 213g/km, so expect a large-ish road tax bill.
Underpinning the Jeep's off-road ability is a robust 4WD system offering 2WD
for most on-road driving along with and selected by shifting a secondary
lever high and low range 4WD.
For a hardcore 4x4 the ride quality is more than acceptable. The power steering
takes a while to get used to and combined with a turning circle that's bigger
that you'd expect given its compact length, quite a lot of wheel-twirling is
called for in car parks. And you'll also need to get used to the long-travel
accelerator it needs a good push to get going; but then off-road the
worst thing you can have is a hair-trigger throttle.
It's surprisingly pushy once you're acclimatised, cornering level and obeying
your commands just so long as you don't try to drive it like a hot hatch. While
the Jeep is breathtaking off-road, this all-American 4x4 can also be fun driving
to and from where the wild things are. MotorBar
Wrangler 2-dr 70th Anniversary 2.8 CRD Auto | £27,595
Maximum speed: 107mph | 0-62mph: 12.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 27.1mpg
Power: 197bhp | Torque: 339lb ft | CO2 213g/km