If we judged the Jeep Wrangler purely on how much everyone we met loved the way it looked and how many people had heard good things about it, then the Wrangler would win Car of the Year. People love this car and so did we. Although it isn't perfect, the Wrangler has elements that make it great and the off-road capabilities would astound even 4x4 nuts.
What makes the Wrangler so appealing is definitely the uniqueness of its design. It stands out on the road, it stands out in the bush and this is because since Jeep came onto the scene during the second World War, its done very little to change its formula. Jeep hasn't let the Wrangler go completely unchanged, though - the exterior design has eveolved to keep up with modern trends - but it is under the bonnet, or the hood, as Americans would say, where this Jeep stands out from the competition.
If we judged the Jeep Wrangler purely on how much everyone we met loved the way it looked and how many people had heard good things about it, then the Wrangler would win Car of the Year.
The massive diesel engine does everything with purpose. It drives aggressively, it climbs hills with vigour and it cruises the open road effortlessly. However, all that purpose means the engine gets very thirsty and the consumption is unbelievably high. A full tank, which will set you back upwards of R1000, will only buy you 600km of open road driving. We took the Wrangler from Johannesburg to the Natal Midlands, and on our trip home we filled the tank to the brim and had to refill it once we cruised back into town.
The astronomical fuel consumption aside, the Jeep is actually a fantastic car to drive. Despite the bulk, it moves rather quickly, even off the line. It sits smoothly at 120km/h and is comfortable enough on a long journey. The diesel engine is very loud, tractor-loud even, which is strange considering the advancement in diesel technology recently, but with a booming sound system, you barely notice the roar of the engine.
When you take the Wrangler from tar to dirt, that is where this 4x4 comes into its own.
If you find the Wrangler a tad cumbersome on the tarmac, wait until there is loose sand under the wheels, or a steep slope out in front of you. It will climb the highest mountain, fly through soft desert sand or sail through water. And best of all, you never second guess yourself, or the Jeep.
You point and it delivers. To add to the funky nature of this Jeep, when you do decide to take it off road, just about everything on the Jeep can be removed. The doors, the roof, it all comes off. Which is great for preventing scratches or dents when thrashing it through the bushes.
Even with the fantastic drive, the Wrangler is more than just a rugged off roader. The interior of this car is comfortable, well laid out and well finished. Everything is just a mere button-push away and you can set the climate control, satellite navigation and check the drive system in operation all from the on-board control centre. The sound system, Bluetooth telephone and cruise control can all be operated from the steering wheel.
The leather seats with cloth trim are elegant, yet practical, and the space for five passengers is ample. The luggage compartment is awkward, but large, so with creative packing you should be able to get the family down to the coast with little or no worries at all.
The Wrangler is something very different and a brilliant accessory for anybody looking to make a statement. It costs between R450 000 and R544 000, and would definitely be an investment in your soul. This 4x4 is fun to drive and great to own.
Engine sizes: 2.8l - 3.6l
Top speed: +- 160km/h
Colours: Silver metallic, crush (orange), flame (red), dozer (mustard), white chill pearl, cosmos blue, deep cherry red, bright white, black forest green, and Sahara tan