2012 Jeep Wrangler

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Review: 2007 Jeep Wrangler

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2015.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

The Wrangler gets 4-doors for the first time, besides modern features.
Pros:
  • First 4-door Wrangler
  • New engine
  • First power windows
Cons:
  • Average highway acceleration
  • Occasional jittery ride
  • Tight rear seat

The Jeep Wrangler finally moves into mainstream SUV market with a 4-door version, modern engine and comfort and safety features found in cars.

The tough little Wrangler 2-door model was the only two-door SUV available for 2006 and is still offered for 2007. It dates back to the open-bodied 2-door, 4-wheel-drive Jeep that earned iconic status in World War II.

More Doors Needed
The Wrangler 2-door is the closest thing to that wartime Jeep and is known for its off-road abilities and retro look. However, DaimlerChrysler's Jeep operation felt it had to come up with more modern features for the Wrangler 2-door—and definitely a more mainstream Wrangler 4-door with a roomier interior.

Both trim levels retain goat-like off-road abilities with 4-wheel drive.

Called the Unlimited, the Wrangler 4-door is not to be confused with the longer- wheelbase Wrangler 2-door introduced in mid-2004. That trim level is gone for 2007.

Easily Identified
Both trim levels are readily identifiable as Wranglers, although styling is crisper. Retro Jeep features are a signature 7-slot grille, upright rectangular windshield, round headlights, boxy "greenhouse" area above the door line, jutting fenders and exposed forged hinges.

Both the Wrangler 2- and 4-door versions have a 202-horsepower V6 engine, which replaces a 190-hosepower inline six-cylinder that seemingly dates back to the era of vacuum-tube radios.

Average Highway Acceleration
Acceleration with the V6 is lively in town but average on highways because Wranglers are heavy, weighing approximately 3,800 to 4,100 pounds. The old inline "six" did about as well. However, my test Wrangler Unlimited easily cruised at 65 mph at only 2000 rpm with the automatic transmission.

The engine is linked to a 5-speed manual transmission or responsive 4-speed automatic.

Estimated fuel economy is lackluster: 17 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway for the Unlimited rear-wheel-drive version, which gets 16 and 19 with the automatic. The Wrangler 2-door, which comes only with 4-wheel drive, gets comparable 4-wheel-drive figures.

Base prices range from $18,105 for the Wrangler 2-door to $28,235 for the Unlimited 4-door. There are X, Unlimited X, Sahara, Unlimited Sahara, Rubicon and Unlimited Rubicon versions.

New Power Windows
The Wrangler gets new, optional power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry, but doors can still be removed with both trim levels. The power windows are a good feature because manual window cranks in an Unlimited 4-door I tested took a long time to move the windows down or up.

There are also new standard anti-lock brakes and an anti-skid system with rollover sensors. That's a good feature because younger Wrangler drivers who considered the vehicle a sports car could land on their heads. New options include front-seat side airbags that protect the torso and head.

Improved Stability
Both Wrangler 2- and 4-door trim levels are wider by about 5.5 inches then their 1997-2006 predecessors, giving them better stability. The Unlimited has a 116-inch wheelbase (distance between axles) and is 20.6 inches longer than the 2007 Wrangler 2-door. That version has a wheelbase increase of 2 inches.

The power steering is quick but overly light with a numb on-center spot that lets the Jeep wander a little in lanes. Lower spring rates provide a softer, more comfortable on-road ride, and the Unlimited's longer wheelbase also helps here. But the ride becomes jittery on some freeways at cruising speeds. The brakes are OK, although the pedal feels a bit soft.

Roomier
The Unlimited can seat five occupants—a Wrangler first, and offers the most cargo space. However, four adults are most comfortable because the center of the backseat is too hard to comfortably accommodate a fifth occupant. The Wrangler 2-door rear seat passenger area is roomier, but still too tight. At least it has a little more cargo room.

The new instrument panel has slightly undersized gauges, but they're fairly easy to read. Radio controls are small but set high to facilitate usage. Climate controls are large, but switches for off-road driving such as for the locking differentials and other off-road aids are too low on the dashboard for easy use.

Hardtop for Quietness
Those wanting a fairly quiet interior should order the Limited with its removable hardtop, which has removable panels—not the available soft-top.

The Unlimited's front bucket seats are supportive, but the backseats are stiff, upright and need more thigh support. There isn't much surplus legroom back there, and rear doors are smaller than the front ones. However, all doors open wide, although extra effort is needed to get into the Wrangler.

Cargo room is especially impressive in the Unlimited and can be greatly expanded by flipping the rear seats forward. Their headrests automatically fold out of the way to clear the front seats.

Awkward Spare Tire
The cargo floor is high, but wide. The swing-out tailgate carries a 75-pound full-size spare tire. It's easy to reach if there's a flat, but can make it awkward to open the tailgate. Tailgate hinges have no detents to keep it open on slanted surfaces.

Large outside mirrors enhance visibility, but can only be manually adjusted.

The Unlimited 4-door is the most comfortable Wrangler ever for on-road driving, but both 4-wheel-drive versions retain impressive off-road prowess.

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BB04 - 9/17/2014 8:59:49 AM