For 2007, the Jeep Wrangler is all-new, including its name: sold to Canadians as the TJ in 2006, the model now aligns with the moniker used in the U.S.
To the untrained eye, the new models don’t look much different than the ones they replace, but they feature an all-new stiffer frame, longer wheelbase, wider track, increased ground clearance, enhanced axles and transfer cases, and available electronic-disconnecting front sway bar, and electric axle lockers for better off-road performance.
The 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder are gone, replaced by an all-new 3.8-litre V6 that makes more power than the outgoing six. The company says the cabin is 20 per cent quieter; there’s more interior space, and more available features, including power windows and locks, full-screen navigation system and satellite radio. There’s also a new three-piece modular hardtop, dubbed the “Freedom Top”, and new Sunrider soft top with sunroof feature.
The line-up offers two configurations: the two-door Wrangler, and the longer-wheelbase, four-door Wrangler Unlimited. Both come as the X, Sahara and the Rubicon. The Rubicon is the hard-core off-road model, and is a special heavy-duty package.
All models use the 3.8-litre V6, mated to a six-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic transmission. The X and Sahara models use Command-Trac four-wheel drive, with a part-time two-speed transfer case and 2.72:1 low-gear ratio, while the Rubicon uses Rock-Trac part-time two-speed transfer case with 4.0:1 low-gear ratio.
Features on the Wrangler X include fuel and transfer case skid plates, removable air dam, removable doors, 16-inch wheels, folding soft top, CD stereo with auxiliary output jack, vinyl seats, fold-and-tumble rear seat, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and engine immobilizer.
The Unlimited X adds Dana 44 heavy-duty solid rear axle, fog lamps, Sunrider soft top, dome lamp, 60/40 folding rear seat and cloth upholstery.
The Sahara models add air conditioning, body-colour fender flares, 17-inch wheels, Freedom Top, power locks with keyless remote, power locks, security alarm, YES Essentials stain-resistant upholstery, and seven Infinity speakers with subwoofer.
The Rubicon models add Dana 44 heavy-duty solid front axle, front and rear electronic remote locking differentials, frame-mounted rock rails, electronically-controlled front disconnecting sway bar, and 17-inch wheels with off-road tires.
The new Wrangler maintains an excellent balance: it’s possibly the toughest and most capable Jeep so far, but its on-road manners have improved, with a smoother and quieter ride, more safety features and a comfortable interior. Other manufacturers also produce small 4×4 SUVs, but if you want to take off the roof and conquer the wilderness, this is the only game in town; and if you just want something tough-looking that’ll take you to the office, the Wrangler can handle that, too.