Now in production since 1941, the Jeep has gone through several parent companies since some men from the American Bantam Motor Car company presented their vehicle to the US Army for trials in 1940. While Bantam lost most of this business to Willys and Ford to build Jeeps during WWII, the present-day Jeep, such as the Wrangler tested here, is assembled in the former Willys Toledo plant.
The Wrangler is a blend of the old and the new. It retains its solid, seemingly invincible platform and original body style with modern conveniences and power systems that do not take away from its heritage. The tested Wrangler was painted in a bright green known officially as "Mojito," one of nine flamboyant colors available. Painted in this hue, this Jeep certainly got thumbs-up and lots of comments.
The cabin is comfortable, but a little tight with the elbow room. The windows are short, but visibility is adequate. The dashboard controls are well-situated and user-friendly. The 8.4-inch Uconnect display is a delight. Power from the engine is adequate, and the transmission shifts well both up and down its range. The Wrangler provides a very solid presence on the road and will tackle just about all off-road excursions within its capabilities.
The trade-off for the stiff body-on-frame and solid axle platform which provides the excellent off-roading is the typical harsh Jeep ride on pavement. At speed the Wrangler gave off more wind noise than expected with its full-length roll-back soft top.
With its quasi-military feel, FCA has kept the heritage but this tradition has been updated for today's world. This is not a vehicle for everyone, but it is the right vehicle for that type of lifestyle. FCA is to be commended for providing traditional Jeep styling cues (round headlights, tailgate-mounted spare tire, folding windshield) and remaining true to the marque's original intentions.
Price as tested: $64,165, base: $46,745
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged
Power/Torque: 270 horsepower, 295 lb-ft
Fuel Mileage: 10-12 L/100km overall
Drivetrain: Eight-speed automatic, 2.72:1 ratio Select-Trac FT 4X4 transfer case, Dana 44 axles front and rear with 3.45:1 ratio, solid axle front and rear with coil springs and track and stabilizer bars, brakes 330 by 28-mm vented front rotors and 342 by 14-mm solid rear rotors, 255/70/R18 all-terrain tires.
Specifications: Wheelbase 3008-mm (118.4 in), weight 1987 kgs (4380 lbs), interior volume 2.94 cubic meters (103.7 cubic feet), cargo area with rear seat down 2.05 cubic liters ( 72.4 cubic feet), with rear seat up .89 cubic meters (31.7 cubic feet), towing capacity 3500 pounds, fuel tank capacity 79.49 liters (14.48 gallons).