The Wrangler is not only proudly, and typically, American. It reminds me of Texas. Big, brawny and almost larger than life.
The Wrangler is not a small vehicle – it’s not meant to be. From the signature 7 slat grille and round headlights to the high and proud stance, it proclaims its presence. From every angle it simply states that it’s here and willing to tackle any obstacle that you care to throw at it with its high stance, large wheels and rough and tough appearance.
The Wrangler is proudly based on the original Jeep concept, so the SINCE 1941 legend is most appropriate to this model. However, Jeep have taken the vehicle by the scruff of its neck in many ways and dragged it along with progress over the last 70 years. Yes, it has the aerodynamics of a (very large) brick and an almost vertical windscreen, but you’ll be grateful for this if you attempt some proper off-roading.
The Wrangler has the unusual feature of having the ability to remove the roof panels in various sections. Not very common on a 4 door vehicle. Personally, I found the prospect of this process far too daunting, so did not attempt it. The presence of the folding soft-top in the boot area is definitely a compromise as it seriously imposes upon boot space and is a large barrier when loading luggage into the otherwise large space behind the rear seats.
Speaking of loading, the Wrangler has an unusual split rear door. The bottom half, with spare wheel attached, opens to the side and then the top glass section lifts upwards. I found this quite convenient in allowing me to load most items through the bottom section only, having to squeeze items underneath the soft-top.
Life on the inside has been brought up-to-date as far as possible. There is stretch-out space for 5 passengers and from the drivers perspective items such as a touch-screen infotainment system are provided. Behind the wheel, it took a few days to get used to the highly sensitive steering which requires constant attention and minor corrections.
From a technical point the Wrangler has Jeeps’ 3.6l V6 pushing out 209kW and 347Nm through its 5 speed automatic transmission. This provides very adequate progress on-road and cruising at 120km/h is effortless. Traffic is made easy with the auto although this is still a very large vehicle especially when it comes to parking. This task is eased by the standard reverse camera and park assist system.
For off-roading the Wrangler provides the old fashioned transfer box style system with a second lever for selecting 2H/ 4H or 4L options. The lever needs a very firm and heavy hand to change between systems. This could be seen as positive in the aspect that you cannot make this change accidentally. There is a hill descent control system as well, although I did not have the opportunity to test this. On a short field excursion, in 4L, the Wrangler quickly showed that it is highly capable and with a “feet off” strategy it simply plodded its way along assuring me that nothing was going to impede progress.
With the vast choice of vehicles available to modern motorists, I firmly believe that it always comes down to a few issues. Price is always the first and at R 540 990, the Wrangler Sahara is well priced against similar competition.
Far more important are your personal needs and requirements and this is where the buyer is the only person who can make the decision. If you are looking for a large vehicle that is unquestionably capable of proper off-roading then this must be on your short list. In my dream garage, the Wrangler or similar has a definite space BUT you need to consider very carefully if you could live with this type of vehicle as your every day commuter.
Note that I have not commented on fuel consumption for this vehicle as I believe that it is unfair to prejudice the capabilities of this type of vehicle by looking at this figure. Secondly, consumption will vary widely depending on the type of usage.
Kindly also check out the video review by Alan Rosenmeyer of MotorMatters:
Wrangler 3.6L Sahara 2 door – R 494 990
Wrangler 3.6L Sahara 4 door – R 540 990 AS Tested
Wrangler 3.6L Rubicon 4 door – R 566 990
Wrangler 2.8 CRD Sahara – R 601 990