2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Four Seasons Wrap-up

Not everyone was so taken with the Wrangler's charms. After using the Jeep for a week's worth of family duty, technical editor Don Sherman carped: "As a vehicle ill-suited to normal suburban use, the Wrangler Unlimited rivals that other silly Rubicon rumbler, Toyota's FJ." His wife, Cheryl, was in rare agreement with her husband: "I just find no joy here. First gear is completely useless, reverse is hard to engage, and it's not at all fun to drive." And associate editor Sam Smith, who found many things to love about the two TJs his family has owned, was left with mixed feelings after spending five days in our Unlimited: "The smooth, strong, linear straight six is gone, replaced by a coarse, overtaxed V-6. Weight is up. The short wheelbase, even in the two-door model, is gone.

And a great deal of the purposefulness and old-school simplicity has disappeared, replaced by thick A-pillars, a modern SUV mentality, and a poseur-ish attitude. Yet I've enjoyed driving it. It's still involving and quirky and somewhat stupid (in a good way) compared with most of what's on the market. In other words, it's still a Jeep." Indeed.

And as for the Wrangler's newfangled features? MyGig was appreciated by staff millennials who cannot leave home without their entire music libraries at their fingertips, even though the system's modern touch-screen interface was incongruous in this utilitarian interior. The navigation system itself was castigated by some for its lack of sufficient map scales and its reluctance to allow you to drag and pull the map view. The Freedom Top was cool, in that it allowed us to individually remove panels above the driver and the front-seat passenger, but we chucked it entirely during the warm months in favor of the canvas roof, which turned out to be nearly as exasperating to use for most of us as it's always been. At least the Sunrider mode allows you to quickly retract the canvas roof part way, and our drivers made ready use of this feature.

Despite our kvetching, the Wrangler is still a real Jeep, and that's all the more important considering that the division recently has been saddled with several products that compromise the brand. We'd like to see a better powertrain and a tad more polish, but we're grateful that the Wrangler is still without peer off-road (as our pictures indicate). It's best to take the Wrangler at face value, anyway, as senior editor Joe Lorio did for a weekend jaunt to northern Michigan: "Breathes there a soul so dead as to scoff at the notion of a Jeep Wrangler summertime road trip? OK, so we did the freeway portion with the roof up and the A/C on. But at the first post-freeway fuel stop, we stripped off the soft top (a multistep process, but not terribly difficult with familiarity) to experience the Wrangler au naturel. Driving in an open-topped Jeep is one of America's great automotive experiences. Even with its doors on and the network of roll bars overhead, the Wrangler provides an experience that is far more open than that of most convertibles."

And that is something you don't have to go to Africa to find out.

Genealogy

First built in 1940, the Jeep's forefathers were initially produced for the U.S. Army. The first civilian CJ2A was introduced in 1945 and built to the same basic mechanical specifications as the military version. It was equipped with a 60-hp in-line four and few options. By 1953, the CJ3A was topped by the CJ3B, which featured more power and subtle body changes. In 1954, the CJ5 was introduced with an entirely new body and chassis. A stretched version of the CJ5, called the CJ6, was available starting in 1956, followed fourteen years later by the legendary Jeep Renegade - a limited-production model with fifteen-inch wheels, a V-6, hood stripes, and a standard roll bar. In 1972, the CJ5 and the CJ6 got a new 100-hp in-line six and an optional 150-hp V-8. The 1976 CJ7 (the last new CJ) was longer and roomier. The Wrangler (YJ) debuted in 1987 with square headlamps, a bent grille, and a 2.5-liter four or a 4.2-liter six. Round headlights returned for the 1997 Wrangler (TJ). Ten years later, a redesigned Wrangler (JK) jettisoned its base four-banger for a standard V-6.

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2007 Jeep Wrangler
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

OVERVIEW
Body Style 4-door SUV
Accommodation 5 passengers
Construction Steel body on frame
POWERTRAIN
Engine 12-valve OVH V-6
Displacement 3.8 liters (2131 cu in)
Horsepower 205 hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque {{{240}}} lb-ft @ {{{4000}}} rpm
Transmission Type 6-speed manual
Drive Rear-and-4-wheel
CHASSIS
Steering Power recirculating ball
Lock-to-Lock 3.5 turns
Turning Circle 41.2 ft
Suspension, front Live axle, coil springs
Suspension, rear Live axle, coil springs
Brakes Vented discs/discs, ABS
Tires Goodyear Wrangler SR-A
Tire Size 255/75SR-17
MEASUREMENTS
Headroom f/r 41.3/40.4 in
Legroom f/r 41.0/37.2 in
Shoulder Room f/r 55.8/56.8 in
Hip Room f/r 55.6/56.7 in
L x W x H 174.4 x 73.9 x 70.9 in
Wheelbase 116.0 in
Track f/r 61.9/61.9 in
Weight 4360 lb
Weight Dist. f/r 52.3/47.7%
Cargo Capacity 46.4/86.8 cu ft (rear seats up/down)
Towing Capacity 3500 lb
Fuel Capacity 22.5 gal
Est. Fuel Range 360 miles
Fuel Grade 87 Octane
OUR TEST RESULTS
0-60 mph 9.0 sec
0-100 mph 37.4 sec
1/4-mile 17.0 sec @ {{{80}}} mph
30-70 mph passing 10.3 sec
Peak Acceleration 0.55 g
Speed in Gears 27/47/71/98/105/100 mph
70-0 mph Braking 197 ft
Peak Braking 0.97 g

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