What is it?
The Jeep Wrangler really shouldn’t require any introduction, it’s been around since Rick Astley decided he was Never Gonna Give You Up. That's 1987 to non-Rick fans. And like its older CJ siblings, the Wrangler is built for off-road adventures and exploring the back of beyond.
With that in mind it’s always interesting to read other people's thoughts on a car that you’ve just driven. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Yeah, I agree with that’, other times I’m gawping in dismay at what appears pure ignorance, and with the Wrangler it was certainly the latter. One reviewer actually called it 'a pointless vehicle' and only gave it 3/10!!! Now, being a long standing Land Rover enthusiast you would think that I’d be smirking in agreement, but I wasn’t, I was in fact quite angry.
I think these days, with the over saturation of crossover AWD’s and their car like handing, some writers are forgetting the point of vehicles like the Wrangler, Defender and to a degree the G-Wagen.
They’re built for a purpose, and that purpose is getting you from A to B via the most inhospitable terrain you can think of.
If you’re going to be clambering over boulders, wading through rivers and fighting for grip through the greasiest of mud holes then yes, you’ll need a 4x4 with a little off-road bias. You don’t jump in a proper 4x4, and expect it to drive like the brilliant Mazda CX-5 - it isn’t going to happen; deal with it.
With that little lot off my chest, what did I think of the 2017, 2.8 diesel Jeep Wrangler Overland?
On the road
Well, let me just say that the only other car to make me smile as much that day was the Bentley Continental, I loved it! Driving the Wrangler, for a whole week on a variety of roads, I really wasn’t expecting it to be as quiet as it is, especially at, erm, ‘normal motorway speeds’, yes officer.
Once on the open road the first thing that surprised me was that it wasn’t as pitchy as I thought it would be for a short wheelbase; I think the standard equipment Electronic Stability Control may have had something to with that. I did however think that the steering was a tad light and twitchy, but that was when I was driving along a rather bumpy country lane.
The 2.8 Common Rail Diesel pushed the Wrangler along comfortably, its not not going to break any speed records, and nor should it, it’s built for ruggedness. Having said that, the 5 speed auto fitted to this Jeep, according to their official figures, can propel this box shaped 4x4 to 62mph in under 11 seconds, and carry on until you reach the dizzy heights of 107mph.
Having covered a good couple of hundred miles around Wales, that ranged from fast motorways, winding roads and a spot of green laning, the 25.4mpg didn’t really surprise me.
Well, it’s a Jeep, I tried to get it cross-axeled, but no matter what position I got it in the Wrangler simply drove on. I would’ve dearly like to have put a set of mud tyres on it and had a serious play, but I know the results would be the same.
And that’s pretty much all I have to say regarding taking the Wrangler off-road, it simply works. Coupled with its low box, traction control and great approach and departure angles you'd have to be really trying to flummox it.
Jumping in felt good, and the first thing I noticed after adjusting the comfortable black leather seat and its mirrors was that you’re not struggling for space like you are in a Defender. The view is good, but I thought the leather wrapped steering wheel was a tad large in diameter, but functional, and the all the dials and switchgear were all to hand, which was good.
Someone complained that the dash was made was hard plastic, I don’t think they understood that it’s easier to wipe mud of a plastic dash than it is with make believe leather.
The only really annoying part of the interior, and of the whole Jeep if I’m being truthful, is that the transmission tunnel tapers in so far towards the brake pedal that my left foot is permanently at an angle. Initially it was quite uncomfortable, but I got used to it.
The Wrangler comes with a removable 3-piece roof, 2 front panels, like a huge sunroof, and the back. The doors are easy to remove too, but the whole week I had it, it rained.
Muddy Madam was in the passenger seat messing with things; she prodded the padded roll cage, flicked on the heated seats, checked the 60/40 split folding rear seats and nodded with approval "So far so good." she announced. Not only was she was amazed by the decent sized glovebox, but the heater was exceptional, but you’d want a good heater in a vehicle that has a removable roof.
I was having fun, driving the Wrangler reminded me of my old rag topped V8 90, a fun, practical and capable vehicle that always put the biggest smile on my face as every trip was an adventure. I was having so much fun that I didn’t notice the media centre included a Uconnect phone system with voice command, USB connectivity and 6.5" colour touchscreen satellite navigation. Thankfully, I didn’t have to use the advanced multistage front air bags either, but the Premium audio (alpine) system with subwoofer was loud!
Engines ’n’ transmission
You get a 2.8ltr 4-cyliner in-line diesel lump that’s mated to a 5-speed automatic
Fuel consumption wise, they reckon urban is 29mpg and extra urban is 39.8mpg, giving a combined 35mpg with CO2 emissions of 213(g/km), if you’re interested in that.
Over the last 30+ years that I’ve had my driving licence, I have owned and driven more Land Rovers that I can actually remember, from Series, 90 & 110’s to Defenders, and I love ‘em, even though I know they’re flawed. This might upset a lot of Land Rover owners, but in the Jeep the seats are bigger and better, the interior is better laid out, it’s quicker and comfier, in fact I want one.
To summarise then, the Wrangler is only pointless if you want to take it on track days, like a Lamborghini Gallardo is pointless if you live on a hill farm in the middle of Wales and need to tow a trailer.
If you want a proper 4x4 to do proper 4x4 stuff, then a Jeep Wrangler should be near the top of your list.
I’ve said the same thing about the Defender and G-Wagen and I’ll say it again here, you don’t buy a Wrangler because you want a 4x4, you buy a Wrangler because you want a Wrangler, and I do!
Our Jeep Wrangler test car cost £37,810 while the range starts from £34,740.