Home off the range

Jeep’s un­lim­ited edi­tion Wran­gler is more for rock­hop­ping than frock-shop­ping

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

THE pur­suit of free­dom is a uni­fy­ing theme for Jeep Wran­gler own­ers — even if many of them never achieve it.

Peo­ple want a ve­hi­cle ca­pa­ble of go­ing any­where de­spite the fact many go no fur­ther than the lo­cal park.

Whether you want the im­age or the abil­ity, the spe­cial edi­tion Wran­gler Free­dom steps up.

VALUE

Not much this side of a Land Rover De­fender can touch the Wran­gler when the go­ing gets tough, mak­ing it a best buy for se­ri­ous of­froad­ers who want a rugged work­horse that dou­bles as a top‒off show pony.

Prices start at $35,000 for the two-door Free­dom with a six‒speed gear­box and the 3.6‒litre V6, rep­re­sent­ing a rise of $2500 over the base Wran­gler Sport.

The ex­tra buys weath­ered five-point “Free­dom Star” de­cals on the bon­net and flanks, rock rails to pro­tect

the door sills from dam­age, body‒coloured wheel arches and a black fuel cap.

The treat­ment in­side runs to sil­vered fin­ishes on the air vents and door han­dles, sil­ver stitch­ing and an em­broi­dered Free­dom Star logo.

The four‒door Un­lim­ited ver­sion costs $39,000. Opt­ing for a five‒speed auto, as most will, adds $2000.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Noth­ing to see here, folks. The Wran­gler is as hi‒tech as a ham­mer and works just as ef­fec­tively at bash­ing its way over and through ob­sta­cles.

The V6 is the same job found in the Grand Chero­kee, mean­ing it’s se­ri­ously good, though fuel use isn’t miserly at an of­fi­cial 11.7 L/100km. An 85‒litre tank (70L in the two‒door) en­sures trips to the servo are less fre­quent, if still ex­pen­sive.

The tried‒and‒tested prin­ci­ple ap­plies here, so solid axles trade on‒road sup­ple­ness for rock‒hop­ping surety. Ditto with the lad­der frame.

DE­SIGN

The ba­sic de­sign is un­changed, seem­ingly for decades. It is the ul­ti­mate Mec­cano set, ca­pa­ble of be­ing stripped back and mod­i­fied as the whim takes.

The hard­top roof can be re­moved and the doors come off to let own­ers get re­ally close to the en­vi­ron­ment they’re run­ning through. The in­te­rior makes be­grudg­ing con­ces­sions to mod­ern life with cruise con­trol and a ba­sic stereo but the drainage plugs un­der the re­mov­able car­pets in­di­cate its in­tended func­tion.

They also pre­clude the use of feel‒good squelchy plas­tic in­te­rior.

The Wran­gler’s fas­cia is in­tended to be ex­posed to the el­e­ments, be that rain or dust, so own­ers need to harden up and grab a chamois.

SAFETY

Tough and safe aren’t anal­o­gous. ANCAP rates the two‒door Wran­gler as a four‒star ve­hi­cle, not­ing mar­ginal leg pro­tec­tion for the front oc­cu­pants.

The over­all score of 27.51/37 re­flects this. The poor rat­ing for pedes­trian im­pacts comes as no sur­prise when look­ing at the blunt and solid face of the SUV.

It was built to knock down shrubs and a rel­a­tively frag­ile pair of legs don’t rate. At least it

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