The Jeep Wrangler is a traditional body-on-frame, four-wheel drive SUV that traces its roots to a government purpose (GP or Jeep) vehicle used during World War II. This iconic model is prized for its off-road capabilities and unique features, including a fold-down windshield and removable doors. Long offered only as a two-door model, a four-door Wrangler Unlimited version was introduced in 2007.
2007 to Present: Jeep Wrangler
The third-generation Jeep Wrangler was introduced in 2007. As before, it offers removable soft top and hardtop roof options. The new generation also launched the first four-door variant, dubbed the Wrangler Unlimited. This model benefits from an additional 20 inches between the wheels and replaced the previous Wrangler Unlimited (2004 to 2006), which had just two doors and was extended by 10 inches. Like the standard wheelbase model, the Wrangler Unlimited also offers both roof choices.
The 2007 redesign yielded a two-door model that is just over three inches wider than the previous generation Wrangler. This Wrangler is also two inches longer between the wheels, but is 2.5 inches shorter overall. The result is an off-roader with improved approach and departure angles.
Originally, both the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited were offered in 4×2 and 4×4 configurations, but by 2011 only four-wheel drive was standard. Upon its launch, the 2007 Jeep Wrangler had a 3.8-liter V6 engine making 202 horsepower and came paired with a six-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transmission. Wrangler X, Sahara and Rubicon editions were offered, as well as special edition models. Four-wheel drive Wrangler models of this era are EPA-rated at 15/19 mpg city/highway.
Beginning in 2012, Jeep replaced the Wrangler’s powertrain with a new V6 engine displacing 3.6 liters and making 285 horsepower. This engine is paired with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ratings improved to 17/21 mpg city/highway.
Among Jeep models the Wrangler offers the best presentation of the brand’s iconic visage. From the front you have a fascia punctuated by a seven-slat vertical grille with round headlights. Matching “park turn” lamps and fog lamps are also present.
The Wrangler is the antithesis of an aerodynamic form with its boxy shape and hard lines. Its strong shoulders, upright windshield and roof pillars, and straight angles remain true to its heritage. Pronounced wheel flares, as well as exposed hood clamps and door hinges, are among its many defining characteristics. Oversized off-road tires, steel wheels, squared taillights and your choice of roof options are other stand out features. The requisite full-size spare tire is affixed to the tailgate.
Inside, seating is for four in the Wrangler and for five in the Wrangler Unlimited. All models come with a full-length console and a locking storage bin. This model has a tilt steering column, an instrument panel comprised of a four-analog display and a center stack with available air conditioning controls. Levers controlling the four-wheel drive system and transmission are located side by side at the base of the stack.
Base Wrangler models come with roll down windows and no air conditioning. Wrangler Unlimited models are equipped with a fold-down bench seat instead of the fold-and-tumble removable bench seat found in the two-door Wrangler.
Cabin volume measures 88.4 cubic feet in the Wrangler and 104 cubic feet in the Wrangler Unlimited. Cargo volume measures 12.8 cubic feet in the Wrangler or 61.2 cubic feet with the seat removed. In the Wrangler Unlimited, cargo volume measures 31.5 cubic feet behind the rear seat or 70.6 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
The Jeep Wranglers can be had with locking front and rear differentials, a limited-slip rear differential and multiple axle ratio choices. All models feature a transfer case and a front and rear five-link suspension system. Rubicon models come with off-road tires and a disconnecting front sway bar. The Wrangler Unlimited can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Earlier Jeep Wrangler Models
The Wrangler model name was launched in 1987, replacing the Jeep CJ that was originally introduced by Willys-Overland for civilian use at the end of the Second World War.
The first-generation Wrangler was produced from 1987 to 1995. The second generation model was produced from 1997 to 2006. There was no 1996 model.
New for the second-generation model was a quadra-coil suspension system, which was designed to improve ride quality on and off road. This model also received its first air bags — dual front — and introduced optional anti-lock brakes. Inside, the cabin gained a restyled glovebox, new accessory switches and integrated air vents. An updated headlight design pointed to the original look.
The second-generation Jeep Wrangler offered a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and paired it with a five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission. This model is EPA-rated at 17/19 mpg city/highway. A 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine was also available and offered the same transmission choices.
In 2003, the 2.5-liter engine was replaced with one displacing 2.4 liters. A new four-speed automatic transmission was also introduced. The six-cylinder Wrangler also gained the new automatic and was outfitted with a standard six-speed manual transmission beginning in 2005.
In addition to the standard SE, Sport and Sahara trim levels, Jeep introduced an X edition beginning in 2002 and equipped it with the larger engine, but without the optional Dana 44 rear axle. The Wrangler Rubicon was introduced for 2003 and the long-wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited was introduced in 2004.
Other limited edition models were also produced, including Columbia, Apex, Freedom and Rocky Mountain versions.