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REVIEW – Jeep Wrangler 4 Door Overland

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Jeep Wrangler 4 Door Overland 2.0 GME 280PS 4x4
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4

Summary

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited gives you the freedom of open-air driving in a way no other car can. The roof and doors are removable. The windscreen even folds down for distinct California beach vibes. The 2.0 turbocharged petrol engine gives impressive performance, and the ride is much more refined than you’d expect of a car like this. It has all the rustic charm you could want, yet is pleasant to live with day-to-day.


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Exterior Styling

If you want to quietly go about your business in an unassuming way, then it’s probably best not to drive a Jeep Wrangler. Not least one that is finished in Firecracker Red. This thing stands out a mile, but for me that’s part of its charm.

We know from the recently-reviewed Jeep Renegade 4xe that Jeep is a brand steeped in heritage, and one that likes to display this with pride.

It’s no coincidence, then, that the Wrangler has the same front end design as a post-war Willy’s Jeep. The circular lamps either side of the slatted grille are now a well-known Jeep motif, so the Wrangler is instantly recognisable.

The Overland model gets 18-inch alloy wheels which are nice, but not so nice that you’d care about getting them dirty.

There is a bulge in the bonnet which suggest a powerful unit beneath (more on that later…) and the overall appearance is a rugged one. From the front bumper – which seems to extend about a foot from the rest of the car – to the side steps and huge arches, this is a vehicle that looks like it will go anywhere.

There are visible hinges everywhere which gives a rustic charm, but they are not just for appearances…

You see, this is the Wrangler Unlimited. And the ‘unlimited’ part of that name relates to the open-air options available to you. Because, with nothing more than a Christmas-cracker tool kit, you can remove the doors, the roof, and even fold down the windscreen.

Though it has to be said this look is more suited to the California surf scene than it is to the British A-roads, it’s still an impressive trick that means when the sun is out you can leave the roof at home.

Interior Finish

One of the most surprising aspects of the Jeep Wrangler was the quality and refinement of the cabin. When you see this car you conjure up images of the previous Land Rover Defender and would be forgiven for thinking that it is old, outdated and cramped inside.

You would, however, be wrong to do so. Jeep has given the Wrangler a well-balanced cabin in terms of being tough enough and rugged to deal with an off-road lifestyle, but also being luxurious enough to befit a car that costs upwards of £50,000.

There is plenty of leather around, from the seats to the dashboard steering wheel, handbrake and gear shifter. It’s of a good quality with contrast stitching too.

Switchgear has a certain rustic appearance to it, but it’s all good-quality modern fittings and the cabin feels solidly assembled. Especially impressive for a car with so many removable parts.

The deep instrument bezels are simple yet elegant, with a crisp multi-function display in between. The central infotainment touchscreen has a tough-looking surround.

There are plenty of well-placed grab handles for the times you might need them, and there are neat little touches like the covers over the USB/power sockets to stop them getting filled with sand/mud when not in use.

In yet another nod to the Jeep heritage, you can spot the Willy’s Jeep motif in the lower driver’s-side corner of the windscreen, which encourages you to take the difficult route.

Engine/Performance

Lying under that bulging bonnet of this particular Wrangler was a rather interesting engine. It’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine, and it can also be found in the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.

Like in the Alfa Romeos, the engine here produces an impressive 280PS and 400Nm of torque. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox, and the Wrangler has selectable 2WD or 4WD.

It’s not the nicest-sounding engine out there. It revs happily enough, but in a typically boring-sounding, 4-cylinder sort of way. And with this power plant under the bonnet, this 1,863kg Jeep Wrangler can go from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 110mph.

The acceleration is a pleasant surprise. You get in a car like this and expect it to feel slow and unresponsive. But with a slick 8-speed automatic and that brilliant engine, this feels genuinely nippy. It can, and will, cause upset to other motorists at the lights. And from the driver’s seat that’s a hoot and a half.

With 4WD engaged there is no issue getting that power down, whatever the weather and road surface conditions may be. Even in torrential rain the Wrangler feels like it will achieve close to its claimed 0-62mph time.

And whilst this engine is not the nicest-sounding at 6,000rpm when you’re driving like a lunatic, it is quiet and unintrusive when cruising on the motorway. The 8-speed gearbox helps in this regard, too. Most of the noise you get on the motorway comes from those obscenely-large door mirrors hitting the air at 70mph. Other than that the Wrangler is actually surprisingly refined.

Ride/Handling

When it comes to the in-car experience, the Jeep Wrangler is all about managing your expectations. This is, after all, a car that is meant to tackle seriously gnarly terrain. It has high ground clearance, low-ratio gearbox, and trail-rated suspension.

It would therefore be wholly unreasonable to expect the Wrangler to behave like a Bentley on the road. Because it simply won’t. What it will do, however, is be surprisingly pleasant to drive as an all-rounder.

The ride is a little lumpy, which is somewhat inevitable given the tyres and suspension. But on the motorway it is comfortable enough and you wouldn’t be scared to take this on a long slog – the big comfortable front seats help in this regard too.

Steering is a little on the vague side, with non-existent feel. But the Wrangler does respond well to inputs. There is plenty of grip through the 4WD system, and plenty of grunt from that 280PS engine, such that the Wrangler can be almost entertaining on a sweeping A-road.

And the handling is good in whatever conditions you point the Wrangler at. Heavy rain, snow, mud, it doesn’t matter. The pedigree of Jeep in this regard is not to be ignored, and the Wrangler is no doubt capable of far more than will ever be asked of it.

It’s for that reason that the on-road behaviour needs to be half decent because, as with most SUVs in the UK – they will seldom be taken off anything worse than a gravel car park…

Economy

OK so let’s assess what we have here: American marque; check. Large SUV; check. Powerful petrol engine; check. That combination would lead you to believe the Jeep Wrangler would guzzle fuel like a marathon runner in 30-degree heat.

That’s what I expected, anyway. So it was with bated breath that I flicked the trip computer onto fuel consumption to find that I had actually averaged more than the claimed 24.8mpg. All things considered (the main ‘thing’ being my exuberant use of the 280PS on offer) I wouldn’t be complaining at that return from this car.

Yes, objectively speaking that isn’t altogether ‘economical’ but then a less powerful diesel model won’t do you much better, so why not have the extra power of the 280PS and enjoy it!

CO2 emissions are 260g/km on the WLTP cycle, so this isn’t a great car for company car users. Not like I expect anyone, anywhere has a Wrangler as a company car…

VED in the first year is £2,245 (gulp!) and from then on is £155. But, with a price tag over £40,000 it falls foul of the VED Surcharge, which means you have more to pay in years 2 through 6. That amount is currently £335 extra, or £490 in total.

But when you consider the Wrangler alongside its competitors, all will incur the VED surcharge, and the first-year rate is absorbed into the price. So it’s all par for the course anyway.

Practicality

We all know that in SUV, ‘U’ is for ‘Utility’. By their very nature, these types of vehicles are supposed to do anything and go anywhere. So how does the Wrangler fare?

When it comes to ‘go anywhere’ there are absolutely no issues. The ‘trail-rated’ status of the Wrangler’s 4WD system basically means it is not just for show. This can really can tackle proper off-road situations with as much ease as it can pop to the local shops.

The concept of ‘do anything’ is quite far-reaching. Cabin space is fine, although it has to be said that the incorporated roll-over protection does use up a little head room.

But that’s the price to be paid for the ability to remove the roof, which is a practicality benefit in itself. The prospect of open-air off-roading – or on-roading for that matter – is something rarely found. This would be the Wrangler Unlimited’s party piece.

I have to point out one potential downside of removing the roof… having somewhere to put it. This is a not-insignificant bit of bodywork, and you would need a clear garage to be able to put it somewhere. If you Google the issue, you will see several Wrangler owners have developed rather ingenious pulley setups in their garage for such purpose.

Boot space is a generous 548 litres, and the side-hinged tailgate means there is a large loading space for bulky items. The downside is that you need to leave plenty of room to be able to open it fully.

Towing capabilities on this model are a respectable 2,495kg braked and 750kg unbraked, which should be more than enough for the horse box, caravan or car trailer.

Equipment

Given where the Wrangler range sits in terms of price point, I was expecting a decent specification. Thankfully, the Jeep didn’t let me down. Even entry-level Sahara trim has plenty of standard kit.

All 4 Door Wrangler models feature alloy wheels, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, cruise control, push button start and tyre pressure monitoring.

On the inside there is an 8.4-inch touchscreen multimedia system with satellite navigation, 9-speaker Alpine audio system with subwoofer and Bluetooth connectivity. There is also ambient LED interior lighting, power windows, climate control, leather steering wheel and 6-way manually-adjusted driver’s seat with 2-way lumbar support.

It’s the safety department, however, that appears to be lacking. Standard equipment comprises front side airbags, stability control, active speed limiting and not a lot else. It’s part of the reason the Wrangler scored a dismal 1-star Euro NCAP rating, which is borderline unacceptable in this day and age. It is somewhat excusable though for a car which is designed to have the majority of its panels removed…

Overland trim, which is the one I tested, gains blind spot detection with cross-traffic alert to bolster its safety offering. IT also gets keyless entry, leather seats and heated front seats.

The Rubicon model gets uprated Tru-Lok differentials, rock rails, and a front sway bar. This is the most ‘hardcore’ off-roader in the range, whereas the Overland I tested feels like the more premium ‘everyday’ offering.

Value For Money

The Jeep Wrangler is not a cheap car to buy. The cheapest 4 Door model is the Sahara, priced at £48,850 on the road. Interestingly that model comes with the 280PS petrol engine, which would definitely be my choice over the 2.2-litre diesel available in other grades.

There isn’t much variation in price between all the different models. The 4 Door Overland model tested here starts at £51,150 on the road. To that my test car had only one addition; Firecracker Red paint at a cost of £675. Price as tested is £51,825.

There are a few other options/packs available, and given the poor Euro NCAP score I’d be inclined to select the £780 Safety Pack, which includes forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, brake assist and adaptive cruise control. Well worth the money in my eyes.

There are a range of roof options – soft tops, dual top, the list goes on. But I wouldn’t be giving too much thought to that in the UK – the standard setup is more than flexible enough.

It is also worth adding that whilst, on the face of it, the Wrangler seems very expensive, it is also a car known to hold value. If you don’t believe me, then just head to the classifieds and see for yourself. There are not all too many of them about, which makes them more valuable on the second-hand market.

And when you stack the Wrangler up against its rivals – namely the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Class – it doesn’t seem such a silly price by comparison.

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 280PS at 5,250rpm
Max torque 400Nm at 3,000rpm
Drivetrain 8-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
0-62mph 7.4 seconds
Top speed 110mph
Fuel tank size 81 litres
Fuel consumption 24.8 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 260 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,863kg
Towing capacity 2,495kg braked / 750kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 548 litres
NCAP rating 1 star
Base price £51,150
Price as tested £51,825
Company website www.jeep.co.uk/wrangler-jl

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