The classic Jeep Wrangler still looks great. Now it’s great to drive on ordinary roads, too. Sarah Moore reports.
Jeep occupies a unique space in the off-road market, says Matt Prior in Autocar – particularly now that Land Rover has “temporarily limped out of that arena and hasn’t told us how it’s going to stroll back in”. Jeep has argued that it’s the only “true off-road company in the world”. While there might be a few companies that have something to say about that, for now, it looks like it’s the one that knows how to look after its icon, says Prior.
The new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is the latest version of the brand’s “go-anywhere, have-fun-getting-there adventure plaything”, says James Taylor in Car. “The characterful looks remain, but there’s a lot of changes inside and underneath.” Thankfully, as with a new Mini or Porsche 911, Jeep’s designers have sensibly played safe with the shape, keeping a full house of established design cues from the Wrangler family tree.This time, however, the Wrangler’s brief is to appeal as much to urban, metropolitan customers as to full-time outdoor adventurers, and to convert more first-time Jeep customers from other brands. Hence “an increased emphasis on comfort and refinement, but without any shirking of off-road ability”.
There’s no doubting the Wrangler’s off-road ability, says Steve Sutcliffe in Auto Express. The truth is “it can do stuff and go places that most owners wouldn’t even contemplate, let alone attempt”. But it’s the new Wrangler’s on-road refinement that actually proves most surprising of all. “We drove the 2.2-litre diesel four-door, all 2,044kg of it, and found it to be remarkably competent on the roads around the Lake District, decently civilised and, overall, just a much better driving experience than we expected.”
“It feels unflappable, unstoppable,” says Prior. “Sure, there are compromises on the road. It would be impossible for there not to be. So, if you only want to drive around suburbia, for heaven’s sake don’t buy a Wrangler. If you want the real thing, don’t buy anything else.”
Model: Jeep Wrangler Overland 4dr 2.2 Multijet-II. Price: £48,365. Engine: 2.2-litre, 4cyl turbodiesel. Power/torque: 197bhp/450Nm. Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive. 0-62mph: 9.6 seconds. Top speed: 112mph