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2017 Jeep Wrangler / Wrangler Unlimited

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 9/1/2016 TONY SWAN

2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
 Overview: There are several vehicles wearing Jeep’s sacred logo, but to the faithful there is only one that matters, the vehicle in the ever-expanding family that most resembles the rugged no-frills, go-anywhere, do-anything ethos of the World War II original. As such, the Wrangler rolls along a very cautious evolutionary line. Powertrain updates are generally welcomed by Wranglerites, but interior and exterior changes that move the vehicle’s character toward civilization too rapidly are viewed with suspicion and even outright rejection. Example: When the Wrangler replaced the CJ series in 1987, its rectangular headlights were condemned as heretical. Consequently, the square fenders, rectilinear sheetmetal, exposed hinges, and utilitarian interior appointments persist well into the age of luxury and connectivity. Wranglers come in two body styles, the basic two-door and the four-door Wrangler Unlimited. Both are propelled by a 3.6-liter V-6 (285 horsepower, 260 lb-ft of torque), sending torque to all four wheels via a six-speed manual (standard) or five-speed automatic transmission. Powertrain choices include multiple four-wheel-drive systems that range from capable to sophisticated, and stock ground clearance ranges from 8.3 to 10.0 inches. A broad array of Jeep and Mopar accessories is available to enhance all-terrain capabilities and appearance.

What’s New: With an all-new Wrangler on the horizon for 2018, the current edition moves into the 2017 model year with only minor updates: LED head- and fog lamps will be added for ’17 Wranglers, as standard on Sahara and Rubicon trims and optional on Wrangler Sport and Sport S. Sport S and Rubicon models also add an optional cold-weather package that includes 17-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain TA KO2 tires, an engine-coolant heater, heated seats, a power convenience group (heated power mirrors, one-touch power windows, power locks, keyless remote entry), and heavy-duty all-weather floor mats.

2017 Jeep Wrangler / Wrangler Unlimited© TONY SWAN 2017 Jeep Wrangler / Wrangler Unlimited

What We Like: From its World War II origins, the Jeep has always been about go-anywhere capabilities, and its civilian ancestors have perpetuated and amplified that fundamental trait. Its body-on-frame construction is the right prescription for resisting off-road punishment, and available features such as underbody skidplates, rigid front and rear axles with locking differentials, hill-descent control, the ability to electronically disconnect the front anti-roll bar, ample ground clearance, short wheelbases, and approach and departure angles designed for serious rock-crawling make the Wrangler a champ in terrain that would rip the guts out of lesser SUVs.

What We Don’t Like: The traits that make Wranglers so capable in the rough—lots of ground clearance, plenty of suspension travel—make it a bit disagreeable for everyday driving, at least by the standards of modern crossover SUVs. Interior noise levels are high, body motions are excessive, and the high center of gravity and knobby tires make for reluctant responses as well as lengthy braking distances. High-speed stability is lacking, which increases the risk of rollover accidents. And that hallowed military profile has the aerodynamic properties of a small garden shed; combined with hefty curb weights by class standards, that makes for tepid acceleration and lamentable fuel economy.

Verdict: A little extreme as a daily driver, but when the itinerary includes mud, rocks, and/or sand, this all-American bulldog is the champ.


VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-/4-wheel-drive, 4- or 5-passenger, 2- or 4-door convertible

BASE PRICES: Sport, $24,990;

Unlimited Sport, $28,890;

Willys Wheeler, $29,290;

Sahara, $31,440;

Unlimited Willys Wheeler, $33,190;

Rubicon, $34,640;

Unlimited Sahara, $35,240;

75th Anniversary, $36,120;

Unlimited Rubicon, $38,440;

Unlimited 75th Anniversary, $39,920;

Rubicon Hard Rock, $39,440;

Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock, $43,240

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection

Displacement: 220 cu in, 3605 cc

Power: 285 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic with manual shifting mode


Wheelbase: 95.4–116.0 in

Length: 164.3–184.9 in

Width: 73.7 in Height: 72.6–72.8 in

Passenger volume: 92–104 cu ft

Cargo volume: 13–32 cu ft

Curb weight (C/D est): 4000–4600 lb


EPA city/highway driving: 16–17/20–21 mpg


2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Automatic

Zero to 60 mph: 8.4 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 26.9 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.8 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.0 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.4

Standing ¼-mile: 16.6 sec @ 83 mph

Top speed (drag limited): 110 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 209 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.63 g

Curb weight: 4598 lb

C/D observed fuel economy: 15 mpg



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