Off-Road Icon Gets Lifted Look From the Factory
- Trim Tested: Wrangler 4-Door Willys w/ 4-Cyl Turbo Engine & Xtreme Recon 35-in Tires
- Price as Tested: $59,875 (including destination charge)
- What We Like: Bold styling; lifted look straight from the factory with Xtreme Recon 35-in tires
- What We Don’t: Big climb to get into the cabin; loud on the highway; almost $30,000 of options
The Jeep Wrangler needs no introduction and, until the reintroduction of the Ford Bronco in 2021, had no rivals. There aren’t a lot of convertible, off-road SUVs with removable doors.
We review the entire Wrangler lineup in our Wrangler buying guide. Here, we will focus on a special version, the Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon.
How It Drives
The Willys’ most noticeable features are its black grille and wheels. And, of course, the Willys badge on the hood. Jeep intends it to offer key off-road features at a discount. After all, it is named for the original Jeep from the Second World War. Those off-road features include shocks, rock rails from the Rubicon, the toughest Jeep, and a limited-slip rear differential. That’s on top of the Wrangler’s already-impressive list of off-road features.
The Xtreme Recon package bumps the tire size from 32 to 35 inches. Jeep added a suspension lift to get those big tires under the Wrangler. The result is more ground clearance and general rock-crawling ability. It also makes the ride rougher and noisier, hurts fuel economy, and worsens on-road handling. There are two reasons to get the Recon package: you’re really into off-roading or like the look. Either way, the Recon package is a great way to upgrade your Jeep without worrying about finding an aftermarket shop or doing the work yourself. However, be warned that it makes the Wrangler even less friendly for daily driving.
Jeep’s optional 270-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine powered our test vehicle. Acceleration was lively, and the optional 8-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly. A 285-horsepower V6 and a 6-speed manual transmission are standard. The Recon package adds upgraded brakes to rein in the speed, but this is a lot of SUV to stop. I was left wishing the brakes had more bite.
Interior Comfort & Quality
The interior styling in the Wrangler is as rough and rugged as its reputation. That’s a good thing, considering you can remove the doors, roof, and windshield with a ratchet in under 30 minutes. You want an interior you don’t mind exposing to the elements.
Seating space was good for me in both rows, and I’m 6 feet tall. There’s abundant cargo space. There’s also good storage space inside the cabin. The glove box may be small, but there are two-tiered center console bins and nets on the doors and behind the seats.
In the unlikely event that you need more headroom, pop off the roof. Our test vehicle had the hardtop with Jeep’s Freedom Panels. When the Freedom Panels are removed and stored in their handy fabric carrying case, the front seat passengers enjoy an enormous view of the sky.
Technology & Usability
The Safety Group package brought blind spot monitoring but not forward collision warning or adaptive cruise control. You have to order the Advanced Safety Group package for that. That’s annoying in a car that already costs $60K.
While safety tech was in short supply, the Wrangler did have several towing features, including a beefed-up alternator, a Class II hitch, a 4/7-pin wiring harness, and trailer sway damping. That’s a lot of equipment for a vehicle that can only tow 3,500 pounds.
Read our full 2023 Jeep Wrangler review for more specs and information about the entire Wrangler lineup.
Carfax vehicle reviews let shoppers compare a vehicle’s specs against its competitors. However, some aspects of a vehicle – performance, comfort, usability – can only be evaluated through actual driving. That’s why we evaluate as many vehicles as we can, so you’ll know what to expect.
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