First Look: 2011 Jeep Wrangler

From the driver's seat (which can now be heated), you can also spot two new "Easter eggs" that designers threw into the package for all 2011 Wranglers: a silhouette of the Jeep-grille logo above the rearview mirror as well as the image of a Jeep beginning to ascend the right-hand side of the windshield (see photos). Jeep officials claim that the fresh interior will be quieter going down the road, too, thanks to "increased acoustical treatment," but we'll wait until we drive one to judge for ourselves.

Besides the aforementioned windshield graphics, the only real visible differences from outside the vehicle will be enlarged backlight and rear side windows, a change that improves rearward visibility in both hard- and softtop Wranglers for 2011. The rearmost side windows grow longer at the back of the vehicle, shrinking each D-pillar by a few inches, while the backlight grows wider (it's now slightly wider than the rear tailgate instead of being the same width). Sahara models get body-color hard tops that make the vehicle look more like an SUV than a traditional Wrangler. All hard tops, whether body-color on Saharas or black on Sport or Rubicon editions, have been reinforced above the rear seats in order to reduce panel flex.

The updated Wrangler also received some improvements to the rear cargo compartment. The rear underfloor bin, which was previously nearly useless, has been enlarged and squared off to be more functional. Better yet, there are now clever dedicated holes to place the hardware for the hard top when it's been removed. A twelve-volt power outlet has been added to the cargo area, and you're less likely to be smacked on the backside while you're using that outlet to power your J&D On Location hair straightener, since the heavy cargo door and spare-tire assembly now has a check strap to hold it in the open position. A new reversible rubber/carpet rear floor mat is also new, as is more attractive rear plastic trim, particularly around the optional subwoofer.

Five exterior colors also premiere for 2011.

The Wrangler's engine room is untouched for this year, with a standard 202-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 ("the minivan motor," as some derisively call it) partnering with a six-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic, although the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, which debuted in 290-hp tune in the 2011 Grand Cherokee, will eventually (possibly for the 2012 model year) appear beneath the Wrangler's flat hood.

The 2011 Wrangler is already trickling into dealerships. Pricing increased on the average of $890 per vehicle. The base two-door Wrangler Sport starts at $22,795, while the top-of-the-line four-door Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon will cost you at least $33,495.

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This should be the last year that the Wrangler has the underpowered V6. The Pentastar is scheduled for the 2012 model and that will give it more horsepower than the FJ Cruiser. Good thing Chrysler is testing the engine in the Grand Cherokee. Any bugs should be worked out. Unless you absolutely need a Wrangler right now, I'd definitely hold off buying one until the Pentastar engine is put in the 2012 model.
Edward A. Sanchez
Stick the Pentastar V6 under the hood, then it'll be done. :-)
Another winner by Chrysler! Go Chrysler!

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