Jeep Wrangler 2DR – Review
By Liam Bird
What did you do the last time you celebrated an important birthday? Was it a quiet night in, a nice meal with a few friends perhaps, or did you go the hole hog, put on your best bib and tucker, throw a huge party and paint the town red? Jeep celebrated their 70th Birthday in 2011, so what more of an excuse did I need to try one?
Think Jeeps and your first thoughts probably stray towards Second World War films, camouflage nets and olive drab paint. Although, if you’re a similar age to me, and you grew up watching too much Saturday evening television, you’re just as likely to think of the opening credits to The A-Team or Mork and Mindy.
The Jeep became the blueprint for all off-roaders that followed it and it seems the name Jeep is to four-wheel drives what Hoover is to vacuum cleaners. Owners of a certain British 4×4 may well dispute that last sentence but it was, in fact, a Jeep, that inspired Maurice Wilks, creator of the Land-Rover, to draw his ideas in the sand.
Despite being a little taller and wider, today’s Jeep Wrangler looks almost the same as the original Willys M38 did in 1941. The seven-slot grille and round headlamps – surely one of the world’s most recognisable vehicle “faces” – are in place. As are the exposed hinges, fold-down windscreen and flared, trapezoidal wheel arches. It’s inside where things have changed most radically. Swinging open the door of this jet black limited edition 70th anniversary Wrangler reveals that today’s Jeep customer expects a few more home comforts than GI Joe.
Supportive leather-covered heated seats, integrated sat-nav, air-conditioning, power-steering – complete with multi-function wheel – power windows, bluetooth connectivity and even Hill-start Assist are all to be found. And once you’ve stepped up in to the cabin you’ll find things – up-front at least – are surprisingly comfortable. What you won’t find, however, is lots of space behind you. Rear seat passengers may well find that the back seat will easily accommodate two but they’ll need the skills of a magician’s assistant to get there. A four-up trip to the super-market may well end in you having to decide whether you’d prefer to bring the shopping home or the rest of your family.
“Improved sound insulation”
The boot space for a vehicle this big is laughable. But who (apart from me) wants to take a Jeep to Tesco? With its short over-hangs, solid axles, acute approach and departure angles, plus its legendary off-road ability, a Jeep’s natural habitat is about as far from the tarmac as it’s possible to get. The new removable 3-piece hard-top may well have larger windows than before but it’s unlikely that’ll you’ll ever have to look backwards through them. This thing feels like it will go over or through anything.
Don’t go thinking that it feels agricultural though. Yes, the five speed automatic transmission feels clunky. Despite it’s 460Nm of torque, acceleration can only be described as stately. But improved sound insulation, revised suspension geometry, and ESC mean the Jeep’s on-road manners are to be applauded.
As an everyday car the 70th edition Wrangler makes little sense. As a weekend toy its leather interior is at odds with its cover-it-in-mud ability. But as an all-American icon, it’s unbeatable.
Jeep Wrangler 2dr, 70th Anniversary Edition
Engine: 2777cc, 4Cyl, Common Rail Diesel
Power: 197 BHP @ 3600rpm
Torque: 460 lbft @ 1600rpm
Transmission: 5 speed automatic. Selectable Four Wheel Drive
Performance: 0-62mph 12.9sec
Max Speed: 107mph
MPG: 34.9 Combined
Price: (Car Shown) £22,995