MEANT TO REPLACE THE ICONIC CJ-7, the Wrangler is perhaps one of the most revered vehicles to have come out of Jeep’s stable. The Wrangler (YJ) was first shown to the world at the 1986 Chicago Auto Show and one could clearly see the distinct similarities with the CJ-7. The separate body and ladder frame construct, rigid axles at both ends, a fold-flat windshield and the absence of doors was something people were accustomed to from the Willys, and the Wrangler simply continued with the tradition. However, it now came with suspension setup, powertrain and interiors borrowed from the Cherokee, which was launched alongside the Wrangler back then.
Jeep wanted to attract more customers and the Wrangler was designed to be your best companion anywhere you go. Thus Wrangler had a wider track and slightly pliant suspension. On the downside, ground clearance was a smidge less. They even introduced a five-door version of the Wrangler, named the Wrangler Unlimited. Powering the first line of Wranglers was a 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder motor and a large 4.2-litre in-line sixcylinder engine. The latter was however replaced the same year, by a 4-litre fuel injected six-cylinder engine.
It became America’s sweetheart for taking on the harshest of terrain. Americans have a deep rooted love for exploring uncharted territories and making little of any obstacle. The Wrangler worked as one of the most favoured vehicle for them to spec out for their choice of off-roading.
Even Jeep started making trims and versions of which the most iconic is the Rubicon. Although it wasn’t until the second generation ‘TJ’ models that the Wrangler Rubicon was introduced, it became a highly sought after version of the Wrangler. Launched in 2002, it was a tribute special to the Rubicon Trails in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It featured Dana 44 axles with a Rock-Track transfer case, diamond rocker panels and 16-inch rims. Over the years the gearbox has seen changes. It came with a New Venture Gear five-speed manual initially and come 2004, the Wrangler Rubicon was spec-ed out with a Mercedes-sourced six-speed manual transmission. There was a four-speed auto transmission as well.
The current gen JK model went on sale in India last year, albeit in the ‘Unlimited’ avatar. You get the choice of two powerplants – either the 2.8-litre CRD turbo-diesel in-line four or the more adventurous 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol motor. Unfortunately, we only get the five-speed automatic and not the six-speed manual ’box that off-roaders would have loved to have. ⌧