It’s been almost a year, exactly, since I drove my last Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. It was beige. That is the only difference between last year’s model and the one I drove this year. Both were automatic. Both were hardtop convertibles. Both featured all the off-road capabilities one would expect from a Jeep Wrangler.
So, instead of rewriting the same review I wrote a year ago on the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, I’ve decided to bring up the vehicle’s best (and perhaps a few worst) points for you to take a gander at. Because there are quite a few interesting things to know about the Jeep Wrangler before you drive off the dealer lot with one.
0-100 score: 72%
1 -You need to WANT a Wrangler
If you’re going to own a Jeep, you really, really, really, really, really need to want one. And this isn’t me trying to be clever or funny. You really do. Some cars you can like the idea of, the look of, the sound of or even the persona of, and get away with kind of wanting it before you slap down the cash to own one and really get to know it. That doesn’t work with the Jeep Wrangler.
To own a Jeep Wrangler is to get beat up, every single day. The ride is rough. The steering is tough. The acceleration is laborious, and getting in and out is neither smooth nor graceful no matter who you are. The doors will always (and I mean always) come back and hit you on the shoulder, shin, butt, etc. If you opt for the manual transmission you’re likely to bruise your knuckles/wrist/forearm at least once from a shift knob that wobbles and moves around so much you have to catch it (without letting it clock your bones) for each shift.
For some, all of the above is part of the Jeep Wrangler’s charm. It has to be or how else would it have made it through from generation to generation with little improvement or change? All the above “quirks” give the Jeep Wrangler the badass, rough-and-tumble character we all know and (some) love.
So, you really need to want to live with all of that every single day or you’re going to get pretty tired of it all very quickly. Trust me.
2 - Affordable out-of-the-box Off-Roader
One of the best things, by far, about the Jeep Wrangler is that it is one of the most competent off-road vehicles out there, straight off the dealer lot. If you want to drive straight from your Jeep dealer into a muddy never-before-been-drive-on patch of middle-of-nowhere, you can. Your Wrangler will handle it with ease. It won’t do it gracefully or quietly or even, but it will do it. And if you happen to add a winch on the front then the world really and truly is your oyster and you can take your bad-boy Wrangler anywhere.
There isn’t anything beautiful about the Wrangler aesthetically, but its go-anywhere ability is the beauty of the beast that it is. Sure, other AWD and 4WD vehicles claim to have the ability to do it all, but with the Wrangler’s 4:1 low-gear ratio, hill decent control and hill-start assist, as well as an above-centre mounted axle that adds ground clearance (10” in total), along with a 42.2-degree approach angle and 32.1-degree departure angle and a front air dam that’s fully removeable for an even better approach angle, it really is the affordable off-road king.
3 - Top droppin’ good time
Then there’s the fact that the Jeep Wrangler can be fully disrobed. The idea that a hard-top can be had during the colder months (although, it should have been added to the first point that even with the hard top in place, the Wrangler is a breezy, cool place to be in the colder months), and fully removed when the sun is shining is fantastic.
From the roof to the doors to the front windscreen (that can fold forward on the Rubicon model), everything is removable. Like a real-life LEGO car, the Jeep Wrangler is the ultimate plaything in the warmer months. Wanna get your Jeep and yourself covered in mud? Get those doors off and get out there. It’s not the easiest or simplest procedure, but it can be done, and it’s pretty damn liberating and cool when you’re in an open-air Wrangler.
The song remains the same…
And while it very much does, the Jeep Wrangler is nearly as iconic and storied as the band that released the album. I may have just compared a Wrangler to Zeppelin, but let me finish: the Jeep has remained largely unchanged, very little “sophistication” and/or technological gadgetry has emerged in the Wrangler. It’s still very simple, very raw, very as-is. And so, it’s remained familiar and the same year after year. It’s an icon, it started a movement, and it is the one you look for in terms of off-road inspiration and capabilities.
Jimmy Page gave us guitar rifts, Jeep gave us the Wrangler (CJ/YJ/TJ); tell me I’m wrong…