Our test vehicle was the Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited which was updated in mid 2011 with an all new interior and improved diesel motor. We had on test the Wrangler unlimited 2.8L 5 speed auto that has the classic Jeep shape.
A key feature of the Jeep is the ability to have the open-air experience with the removable three-piece modular hardtop. Although it’s not a 20 second job (more like a half hour job with two people) you can remove the top and in fact the doors and windscreen to have just about as much fun as is legally possible.
The front seats could do with more travel but are soft and very comfortable which is surprising. The leather steering wheel with multiple controls is a beauty in the hands and in fact the redesign of the instrument cluster and centre stack all works pretty good. Storage is still at a premium but improved with a lockable centre console, glove box and a cool storage area above the media centre.
Rear seat passengers are also comfortable with adequate leg, shoulder and headroom. The door straps are a pain.
Don’t be deceived by its bulky appearance outside, the Jeep is definitely mid sized inside. It is however versatile with 60/40 folding rear seats and quite reasonable boot space with a removable storage bin underneath.
The standard Media Centre with Audio Jack can blast out the required noise for teenagers and with speakers on the centre roll bar and all around they had some fun with the top off.
Safety has improved as well with advanced multi-stage driver and front-passenger and available front seat-mounted side air bags. Also featured is ABS with off-road calibration, ESC with BA, ASTC, ERM and BLD. Hill start assist and Hill descent control as well.
The 2.8-litre CRD turbo diesel produces 147 kW at 3,600 rpm and 460 Nm of torque at 1,600 – 2,600 rpm with the optional 5-speed automatic transmission. While these figures are good it requires work to extract the most from the engine rather than a lazy diesel. It’s also on the noisy side.
While the on road dynamics have improved it is off road where the Jeep Wrangler shines. It is built for the adventurous driver and features include heavy-duty Dana axles, Command-Trac® four-wheel drive system with shift on the fly capability, Quadra-Coil™ suspension with front and rear axle 5-link solid axle with heavy-duty monotube gas charged shock absorbers, transfer case and fuel tank skid plates. Wrangler’s Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) system helps prevent the “pedal bobble” that often occurs when in 4WD-low mode.
The jeep is as good as anything off road and often its not until you swap cars and go over the same track that you realise just how easily and comfortable the Jeep Wrangler handled it.
It’s also fair to say that the Wrangler is ‘cool’ and appeals on many levels. Don’t buy one and expect saloon car ride around town, but take it bush and you will have so much fun you wont want to come back.
What is good:
• Off road ability
• Street cool
• Improved interior
What is not so good:
• Diesel is noisy
• Door straps
• Feels underpowered
Model Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2.8L CRD
Model Price $46,995 RDAP
Drivetrain AWD 2.8L CRD Diesel 5 speed auto
Power 147 Kw @ 3,600 rpm
Torque 460 Nm @ 1,600 – 2,600 rpm
CO2 Emissions 230 g/km
Green Vehicle Rating 2 1/2Star
Economy (ADR comb) 8.8 L/100km
Tow Capacity – 2300Kg
Tow Ball Rating 230Kg
Servicing $Not Supplied
Warranty 3yr/100,000 km with full roadside assist
Overall OzRoamer Rating 80/100
Behind the Wheel 7
Ride & Handling 8
Fit for Purpose 9
Towing Ability 8
Off Road Ability 9
Value for Money 9