After being teased with two sunny days where the mercury eclipsed the 50-degree mark, we were slammed with seven inches of snow. Fortunately, the Wrangler is perfectly equipped to handle both extremes. Its four-wheel-drive capabilities need no repeating, and, if so inclined, you can open up the entire passenger compartment to the elements. Our Wrangler was equipped with the three-piece hardtop (which is now painted body color on the Sahara model for 2011), and it's possible to open the front row to the skies above in only 5 minutes with no tools needed. Stripping the remainder of the top is a little more involved (you'll need to undo several bolts and you'll also need a second person). Remarkably, it's still possible to both remove all four doors and fold the windshield down, but it's highly inadvisable to do so outside of dune blasting or trail riding.
Even ignoring the fancy leather seating (and powerful seat heaters) in the Sahara trim package, the Wrangler Unlimited is surprisingly civilized and comfortable. The four-door's long wheelbase is a boon for ride quality, and the interior is straightforward and littered with nifty storage cubbies (there are actually bespoke spots for the aforementioned roof bolts in the rear cargo hold).
As others have noted, the 3.8-liter V-6 is absolutely anemic, especially when saddled with the current four-speed automatic. Sources suggest to me that Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is due to arrive here within the next few years. That may resolve complaints about acceleration, but I wonder whether it will help fuel economy. Currently rated at 15/19 mpg (city/highway) by the EPA, the Wrangler averaged just above 17 mpg for me during a mostly freeway trip from Howell to Grand Rapids and back. Given that performance, and today's fuel prices, I think fuel consumption is the primary reason a Wrangler isn't serving as my daily driver. If only we could get the European-spec turbo-diesel...
- Evan McCausland,