What it is: The Wrangler is Jeep’s legendary topless SUV. It’s likely the most recognizable vehicle manufactured today and for good reason: it looks similar to the one they were making 75 years ago. For the anniversary, Jeep took the well-appointed Sahara trim and added a special paint color (Sarge Green), the ‘Power Dome’ hood, 17-inch bronze wheels, 75th anniversary badging and steel bumpers that are ready to mount a winch.
My test model also came with a slew of options, such as the dual-top group ($1,785) which gives you both a hardtop and a softtop; a headliner on the hardtop ($495); the body-color painted Freedom Top ($1,100), which replaces the normal hardtop and gives you the added ability to take off just the roof above the front driver or passengers; Tru-Lok Differential rear axle ($1,500); supplemental side airbags ($495); five-speed automatic transmission ($1,350); Alpine nine-speaker audio system ($945); remote start ($495) and 430N navigation-equipped radio ($600). Whew. Yes, this Wrangler has $3,380 worth of options in roofs alone!
With a sticker price of $48,630, I think Jeep may have “jumped the shark” as the Wrangler is becoming outdated. But the Wrangler is a lifestyle vehicle, and it doesn’t have competitors anymore. While we are getting an all-new Wrangler in the next year or two, Jeep is selling as many Wranglers as they can make, so they must be doing something right.
One thing that can’t be argued is the off-road capabilities. They are legendary for a reason. No vehicle from the factory is as capable on any road or surface you try to drive on. And while you can add creature comforts galore and push the price tag up to $50,000, it is still going to be an off-road beast.
Several years ago they switched to the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine, which is much smoother and makes more power, but you are still limited to the sad five-speed automatic transmission. The optional navigation unit mentioned above is almost laughable for such an expensive car, and superior versions have been available in the Grand Cherokee for years.
MPG: 18 combined/16 city/20 highway
Price: $33,795 base. $48,360 as-tested.
Upsides: Best resale value of any car. Can drive anywhere you please.
Wrap-up: The Wrangler is a dream vehicle for many people, and there is good reason. It’s a convertible SUV that can tow your boat or camper and can drive you anywhere. What more could you want? The answer lies within the real world where you are driving to work every day. The gas mileage is bad. The stereo, even the premium one, doesn’t sound good. But if you are set on living the Jeep life, and can afford the payments, then those are but minor speed bumps on the path to weekend glory.