Stuck in time
Let me say right off the bat that my time behind the wheel of the Jeep Wrangler was spent in an environment not suited to the vehicle's strengths. Designed first and foremost for the trails and unpaved terrains, the Wrangler is one heck of a performer. However, the test conditions did not allow for off-road excursions.
That's right: this review of the 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara is based on a daily use in urban and suburban areas. Consequently, my evaluation will focus on the core values of this 4x4 as experienced in real-world situations, meaning on asphalt.
Owning or driving a Jeep is somewhat of a fantasy; you dream about it until the big day finally arrives but then disappointment hits you in the face. This is why you shouldn't attach too much importance to fantasies and instead focus on reality. If you really want to buy a Jeep Wrangler, you have to have unrelenting faith in your willingness to venture off the beaten path. And I'm not talking about one or two weekends in the year but every single Saturday and Sunday on the calendar, not to mention a few weekdays on top of that.
As far as styling is concerned, this Jeep has timeless appeal. Regardless of its age, it always proves trendy, which is commendable. What's more, resale value stays pretty high even after several years. Chances are you would feel as familiar in the original Willys as you would in the latest Wrangler despite a time gap of 50+ years.
While the wheelbase of the Unlimited variant is longer, passenger room is still at a premium and interior styling looks a bit dated. Other design flaws include a near vertical windshield; all the mud in front of you eventually ends up on the side windows which, unfortunately, don't have any wipers. Also, the heating system takes forever to warm up the cabin.
Access to the interior is not easy. The tall step-in height leads to plenty of contacts between your knees and the door sills. Plus, there's little chance of not getting your pants dirty. Those who thought that rear-seat access would be much easier with the additional pair of doors will get their hopes crushed; these doors are quite narrow and they're not any better than the front ones. At least soundproofing is improved over previous models, though it's far from a vault.
Rock-solid chassis hides glaring flaws
If there's one area where the Jeep Wrangler is beyond reproach, it's definitely ruggedness. This 4x4 can literally go anywhere, anytime. Moreover, chassis rigidity is impeccable -- a good thing since other components are questionable.
For one, the 3.8-liter V6 generates a meager 202 horsepower and struggles to make the Wrangler slice through the air. With the drag coefficient of a 10-story building, fuel economy is nowhere near impressive at 13.6 L/100 km (in moderate driving conditions). Sure, the 4-wheel drive system and oversized off-road tires add weight and friction, but even if you spend the entire week running errands, your fuel bills will be hefty indeed.
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