Wrangler ropes in a classic
Jeep hasn’t lost its traditional toughness, writes Graham Smith
THINK Jeep and you inevitably think of those tough workhorses that served the Allied armies so valiantly in World War II. Hundreds of thousands of Jeeps were made by Willys and Ford during the war and were used in virtually every theatre in Europe and Asia.
The World War II Jeep was about as bare-boned as it is possible to be. They were built to handle the toughest environment imaginable and there was no room for any frills that might have made the soldiers’ life more comfortable.
Today’s creature-comfort-laden Jeep is a far cry from the original, but it still carries on with the tradition of toughness in the face of adversity.
ONE look at the JK Wrangler released in 2007 is enough to tell you it’s a Jeep. The vertical bars of the grille flanked by high-mounted headlamps are unmistakable styling touches that hark right back to World War II.
The Wrangler has been tweaked to keep pace with the demands of today’s buyer who drives it every day.
Two body styles were offered, a two-door and a new five-door wagon version. The new body was wider than the outgoing model, it had a wider track, and the wheelbase was extended to form the five-door.
A new cabin delivered on Jeep’s promise of comfort, while the fivedoor had unprecedented roominess.
Like previous models, the doors could be removed and the windscreen folded and a roof panel could be taken off to feel the breeze. Under the flat bonnet sat the choice of a 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine or a turbodiesel; the first time a Jeep had a self-igniter.
The fuel-injected V6 had plenty of low-down, go-anywhere punch, boast- ing 146kW at 5000 revs and 315Nm at 4000 revs. The four-cylinder turbodiesel had 139kW at 3800 revs and 410Nm from 2000-2600 revs.
There was a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox and a four-speed auto on the petrol V6; the auto with the diesel was a five-speed.
The four-wheel-drive Wrangler was always a supreme off-road performer and remains an outstanding performer in the bush.
Built on a more rigid chassis, the JK Wrangler had solid axles front and rear like the older models, but had none of the old tyre roar. Standard equipment included airconditioning, cruise control and alloy wheels.
On the lot
PAY $19,000-$27,000 for a V6 Sport, add $6000-$7000 for a V6 Rubicon.
For a five-door pay $22,000-$30,000 for an Unlimited V6, add $5000-$8000 for an Unlimited Rubicon. Add another $3000 to drive a turbodiesel.
In the shop
WHILE Jeeps have always been tough, the build quality of past models was the subject of regular complaint. But that appears to be in the past as few owners complain about recent models. For anyone contemplating buying a Wrangler it’s important to check for evidence of use in the bush.
Unlike most other four-wheel-drive vehicles the Wrangler is quite likely to have been used off-road with owners making full use of their vehicles’ capability in those conditions.
While the Wrangler is built to with-
Tough: The vertical bars of the new Wrangler’s grille, flanked by high-mounted headlamps, hark back to World War II.