From the July 2004 issue of Car and Driver.
Riding the range in the Hill Country of Texas singing “Whoopee Ti-Yi-Yo” and drawing bovine stares from longhorn steers ruminating among the mesquite on a 40,000-acre ranch, we wondered if there could be a better place to wring out a new Jeep Wrangler. There could not. This patch of Willie Nelson land is crisscrossed with every kind of road from interstate to meandering macadam to dusty dirt. And for some earnest off-roading, the vast expanse of the YO Ranch near Fredericksburg offers steep escarpments made treacherous by mud, loose shale, and rocks the size of armadillos (and vice versa).
Jeep had chosen this slice of the Old West to preview its new Wrangler Unlimited to the press. But unlike other automakers who use such occasions to focus on the “all-new,” the Jeep posse sought to assure us that the latest Wrangler is just like any other Wrangler-tough, uncompromising, and true to its long tradition-except that it’s longer. It’s a strategy designed not to offend Wrangler traditionalists, who welcome change about as much as did 18th-century French aristocrats, while offering something to people who find existing Wranglers a bit cramped.
The Unlimited’s box-section frame adds 10.0 inches to the standard Wrangler’s wheelbase, extending it to 103.4 inches. There’s also an additional five inches of rear overhang, which pulls its overall bumper-to-bumper dimension to 165.1 inches, or 15.0 more than the abbreviated model. The additional space is unequally apportioned in the interior. Leg and knee room in the back seat are expanded by just under two inches. But a whopping 13.0 inches is allotted to the area behind the rear seat. Cargo volume goes from 9 to 29 cubic feet. Out-of-sight cargo space has about doubled, not a bad thing to have in a vehicle that can easily be entered by villains with a box cutter-at least in the fabric-topped version.
Detail improvements to the Unlimited include a “tip and slide” driver’s seat for easier rear access; more padding under the hood, behind the dash, and beneath the cargo area to reduce noise; and the so-called Sunrider softtop, which manually flips back to open a 45-by-23-inch sunroof above the front seats. There’s also an optional hardtop ($795), which would be a prudent buy for people in the Frostbelt states.
All this gear, plus the extra metal needed for the length enhancement, adds up to about 200 pounds and requires some fine-tuning of spring and damper rates, the practical effect of which is imperceptible on the road. Although a longer wheelbase should make for a less choppy ride, the long Wrangler runs along on the road much like the short one. That is, compared with a conventional passenger car, it’s harsher, bouncier, and noisier, but not so much so that it blurs your vision or agitates your internal organs.
But a relatively rough ride on the road is the price of agility off the road, and there is no out-of-the-showroom SUV that can match the Wrangler in the rough stuff. And that’s true for either wheelbase version. The longie does yield a few degrees of breakover angle-21.4 versus 28.1-to the shortie and doesn’t turn as tightly (39.2 feet versus a 36.7-foot turning radius). But in practice-negotiating rocky grades steep enough to ground the skid plates and make a sound like razor wire being dragged across a tin roof-these were not noticeable disadvantages. One thing the Unlimited does have to offset what little it gives up to the short-wheelbase, 4.0-liter model is a greater towing capacity-3500 pounds versus 2000-thanks in part to the added strength of an additional rear crossmember.
Otherwise, the Unlimited is identical to the regular Wrangler. It uses the same 190-hp straight-six hooked to an automatic four-speed transmission (a manual gearbox comes along for 2005), stout transfer case, and robust four-wheel-drive system. With lots of standard equipment-including air conditioning, AM/FM with CD player, and power steering-the Unlimited bottom-lines at $24,995, a hefty sum for a vehicle we wouldn’t recommend for primary transportation. But with nothing else comparable on the market, its price will likely not deter hard-core Wranglerites who want more space.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Source: Reviews - aranddriver.com