From £42,3508
Mildest version of off-roader is drivable and comfortable enough on UK roads but still all about what happens off them

Our Verdict

Jeep Wrangler 2019 road test review - hero front

Original military-chic civilian off-roader enters a fourth Wrangler-badged generation

  • First Drive

    Jeep Wrangler Overland 2019 UK review

    Mildest version of off-roader is drivable and comfortable enough on UK roads but still all about what happens off them
  • First Drive

    Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2dr 2018 review

    The Wrangler is back, and it's bigger, better and more Wrangly than ever. If you think it’s for you, you’ll love it. If you think it’s not, it’s not.

What is it?

By quite widely held consensus, this is the most capable and uncompromising mass-produced, dual-purpose off-roader in the world.

In fact, the Jeep Wrangler, now four generations old by that name and stretching its roots back even further, to the seminal Willys MB of 1941, probably has a stronger claim to that status than any other SUV. And the latest version has just arrived on the UK's byways, back lanes and B-roads.

It should probably be number one on your shortlist if you want a car for the very roughest, toughest sort of off-roading – the sort that depends on a ladder frame chassis, a short wheelbase, short overhangs, rigid axle suspension, knobbly tyres, permanent, differential-lockable four-wheel drive, low-range transfer gearing and disconnecting anti-roll bars.

We’re talking about the sort of driving that tends to happen at a pace slower than walking, mind you, under the direction of guides and by the medium of a very particular system of nods, gestures and signals. The sort that puts cars like the Wrangler in places where you’d think quite carefully about trying to go on foot without at least a rucksack full of mountaineering equipment: at the top of slippery rockfaces, wading through two-and-a-half feet of water or climbing a 60deg slope.

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The number of customers who need a car capable of that kind of thing must be low, but there’s a surprisingly large body of people who want one, and plenty of them have now been depending on Wranglers for decades. But Jeep's owners, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, clearly no longer feels that it can rely exclusively on that committed band of devotees to deliver the future it wants for this model.

We say that because there's a sprinkling of extra practicality, habitability and comfort about certain versions of the new Wrangler, should you decide that the abilities of the ultra-tough Rubicon version won’t be best suited to your daily commute.

The Overland is the derivative to which Jeep is looking specifically to broaden the reach of its 4x4 icon. It comes on relatively road-friendly hybrid off-road tyre, has a hard-top roof and features heated leather seats and most of the creature comforts and safety features that you’d expect in a modern SUV. And, since the Wrangler has also been available with four doors since the introduction of the previous JK iteration, it’s comparable with a medium-sized SUV in terms of everyday practicaility, too. 

Jeep offers the Wrangler Overland with the choice of a 268bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol or 197bhp 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine in the UK, with the six-cylinder petrol model being reserved for other markets. It was the diesel in which we had our first taste of the car, on and off the road, in the UK.

What's it like?

Jeep’s first important claim is to have made a bit more space inside, both in the second row of seats and the boot, to the improvement of the Wrangler's credentials as everyday family transport. And you can tell that those efforts have yielded some success, although they haven’t totally transformed something that continues to demand a compromise or two on convenience.

You slide into a raised driving position pretty typical of a fairly large modern SUV, but you have to lift your legs over a fairly obstructive sill, through narrower-than-average door apertures and into a footwell that's unexpectedly cramped and has no rest for your left foot. There’s good head room up front but less space for legs, knees and elbows than taller drivers might wish for – although not sufficiently little of the latter that you’d be inclined to roll down the driver’s side window, Land Rover Defender-style, just to buy yourself enough leverage at the steering wheel.

In the second row, head room is matchingly abundant and leg room good enough for all but the very tallest adults. Boot space, at 548 litres up to the windowline, bears comparison with that of almost any mid-sized SUV. The loadbay is square, straight-sided and, but for having a side-hinged tailgate rather than a hatchback, as accessible and useful as you’re likely to want.

The Wrangler’s interior ambience remains relatively functional, simple and plain. While some of the fixings and mouldings aren’t quite what you’d expect on a £40k family car, they’re nothing you couldn’t overlook if you were so minded. The Wrangler comes with a modern touchscreen infotainment system, electric windows all round, cruise control and climate control and is awash with USB ports and premium-branded speakers. So, in many respects, it’s appointed and equipped like any big luxury car.

Our first European drive of the JL Wrangler came courtesy of a Rubicon-spec frontiersman special that showed off some notable, if understandable, dynamic compromises to on-road ride composure, grip and handling. The less rugged Sahara and Overland grades of Wrangler, however, have different axles, suspension struts and axle drive ratios, as well as different wheel and tyre specifications.

And while the Overland certainly felt every inch of its now-quite considerable width on narrow Cumbrian B-roads, it rode comfortably enough and handled competently.

A steering wheel of an unusually large diameter by modern SUV class standards, combined with fairly indirect steering gearing, makes the Wrangler seem a touch slow-witted and unwilling to change direction at first. You do get used to the gentle responses, but keeping it within the bounds of a typical country lane and off the cat's eyes continues to require plenty of concentration even once you have.

But overall, only a few predictable quirks and shortcomings make the Wrangler any more demanding or less comfortable to drive on the road than a more typical SUV of its size. The ride, although reasonably quiet and smooth, certainly suffers from a slight shortage of sophistication and can get a bit excitable over tougher surfaces. And at low speeds, the steering is heavy and not quite as positive when returning to centre as the modern SUV norm, so you sometimes find yourself having to manhandle the car out of corners after having hauled it into them.

Interior isolation and mechanical refinement aren’t typical of most modern SUVs, either, partly due to the proximity of a fairly closely slung, longways-mounted four-cylinder engine to the driver’s seat and partly due to the general lack of attentive sealing around the cockpit. There are manual soft-top, powered soft-top and targa-style removable hard-top versions of the Wrangler, and all of those roofs can be removed entirely so that, with the windscreen folded out, a safari-style, totally open driving experience can be ‘enjoyed’, and the downside is that none quite keep the wind out like a totally fixed roof might.

The Wrangler’s diesel-automatic powertrain makes a reasonably solid, strong and smooth impression, though, having more than enough torque to make it easy to mistake the car for something a few hundred kilograms lighter, as well as good responsiveness and drivability. The eight-speed ‘box tends to shift up slightly too keenly during give-and-take cruising, and a Wrangler would never have something as pretentious as a ‘sport’ driving mode that might otherwise prevent it from doing so. Using manual mode solves the problem nicely, however, keeping the engine spinning right where it works best.

Should I buy one?

If you like the idea and the character of the Wrangler, could you tolerate it, live with it happily and use it on a daily basis without what makes it work as a genuine off-roader becoming tiresome on the Tarmac? That’s seems the more telling question, and while it’s a pretty big and important 'if’, we reckon you could.

Even in this specification, the Wrangler is never likely to figure in a buying equation that involves the Audi Q5 or Volvo XC60 – and neither should it. But it could probably get in the mix between, say, a high-end Land Rover Discovery Sport and a Volkswagen Touareg. It doesn’t have the polish or breadth of ability on the road of either of those cars, but it’s close enough to both that, assuming you could use its remarkable off-road ability at least occasionally, you could consider the trade-off worthwhile.

Which means the Wrangler has raised itself from that distant corner of the SUV market where the Defender and cheaper versions of the Toyota Land Cruiser were once its only kindred spirits and joined the bigger SUV scene. It has grown – at least, it has a bit. Just enough, we'd say, assuming you happen to like it.

Jeep Wrangler 2.2 Multijet-II Overland 4dr specification

Where Cumbria, UK Price £48,365 On sale Now Engine 4cyls in line, 2143cc, turbocharged, diesel Power 197bhp at 3500rpm Torque 332lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 2044kg Top speed 112mph 0-62mph 9.6sec Fuel economy 29.7mpg (WLTP combined) CO2, tax band 202g/km (NEDC correlated) Rivals Toyota Land CruiserLand Rover Discovery Sport

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Comments
26

20 February 2019

And whilst I'm in the moaning mood why is the 2.0 Petrol engine tuned to give nearly 270hp (probably sub 20mpg).  It's more than a standard Golf GTi, nearly as much as the 2.3 Focus ST Hot Hatch. Either I'm missing something or FCA need a new dyno.

 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

20 February 2019
xxxx wrote:

And whilst I'm in the moaning mood why is the 2.0 Petrol engine tuned to give nearly 270hp (probably sub 20mpg).  It's more than a standard Golf GTi, nearly as much as the 2.3 Focus ST Hot Hatch. Either I'm missing something or FCA need a new dyno.

 

I seem to recall reading in the US press that the 2 litre petrol is a mild hybrid so there will be plenty of low down torque to go with the top end power. More so than the 3.6 litre V6 which is quite a revvy unit with a high torque peak of something like 3800rpm. It is a lot cheaper to make and it is the base engine in the US with the turbo 4 the premium engine.

20 February 2019
Cheltenhamshire wrote:
xxxx wrote:

And whilst I'm in the moaning mood why is the 2.0 Petrol engine tuned to give nearly 270hp (probably sub 20mpg).  It's more than a standard Golf GTi, nearly as much as the 2.3 Focus ST Hot Hatch. Either I'm missing something or FCA need a new dyno.

 

I seem to recall reading in the US press that the 2 litre petrol is a mild hybrid so there will be plenty of low down torque to go with the top end power. More so than the 3.6 litre V6 which is quite a revvy unit with a high torque peak of something like 3800rpm. It is a lot cheaper to make and it is the base engine in the US with the turbo 4 the premium engine.

The US 2.0 is a mild hybrid. The EU version isnt, dont know why. The 3.6 is a great engine, and works wonerfully in the JK, so in the slightly lighter, and slightly less brick shaped JL it should be better still

 

20 February 2019
Cheltenhamshire wrote:
xxxx wrote:

And whilst I'm in the moaning mood why is the 2.0 Petrol engine tuned to give nearly 270hp (probably sub 20mpg).  It's more than a standard Golf GTi, nearly as much as the 2.3 Focus ST Hot Hatch. Either I'm missing something or FCA need a new dyno.

 

I seem to recall reading in the US press that the 2 litre petrol is a mild hybrid so there will be plenty of low down torque to go with the top end power. More so than the 3.6 litre V6 which is quite a revvy unit with a high torque peak of something like 3800rpm. It is a lot cheaper to make and it is the base engine in the US with the turbo 4 the premium engine.

The eTorque unit is now being fitted to the 3.6 litre Pentastar as standard and (as an option) the 5.7 litre Hemi in the RAM trucks. It doesn't change maximum torque, but does increase it by 90ft-ib (V6) and 130 ft-lb (V8) lower in the rev range. The same eTorque V6 is available in the JL Wrangler.

 

20 February 2019
xxxx wrote:

And whilst I'm in the moaning mood why is the 2.0 Petrol engine tuned to give nearly 270hp (probably sub 20mpg).  It's more than a standard Golf GTi, nearly as much as the 2.3 Focus ST Hot Hatch. Either I'm missing something or FCA need a new dyno.

 

2 ton weight may have something doing with the potent state of tune. According to tests in American auto journals, it's fuel consumption is in low 20mpg. range not sub. Mind, US gallons.

20 February 2019

The asking price is ambitious to say the least,even if £10k was knocked off the price it would be still to much, Jeep isn't viewed as a "premium" brand nowdays and the era of when Cherokee's and Grand Cherokee's has long gone. I wouldn't be surprised if Jeep will leaving the UK market just as Chrysler and Dodge did not so long ago

20 February 2019

With the JL, it seems Jeep have a hit on their hands in the US, but very ambitious prices and lack of options, plus the fact the best versions (and cheapest ) are not on offer here are a big problem. 

Its a proper old school vehicle. It needs the proper old school manual and V6 being offered here. A soft top should be optional instead of in addition to the hard top. Its far too easy to the list price of one of these over £50k. Thats madness, and too much money for something to scramble through the rough stuff. Too much for a Wrangler.

289

20 February 2019

Agreed artill.

I like most things about the JL, but the price is just daft and the lack of the V6 is a disaster.

@ Matt Saunders, you repeatedly compare the Wrangler to 'SUV's all through the article....why? this is definitely NOT an SUV, and I dont think any member of the buying public will be comparing/considering this to Ateca's and Q3's etc.

20 February 2019

Perhaps the reason FCA are asking crazy prices for this is down to uniqueness. There is absolutly nothing else like this on the market at the moment, although the Defender could prove a competitor (hopefully).

 Even still, affordability is in the definition of off-roaders like this. Which is why JLR are pricing the new Defender at an affordable £40,0... Oh wait a minute.

 

PS. You said it offers most of the safety features you would expect in a modern SUV. Dunno how a one-star NCAP rating backs that up.

Jameson

20 February 2019

I love it, and really want one, but the one I want is £50,000.  I can't justify that...and neither can Jeep.  They just have to do something about their pricing.  I don't know why it is that Wranglers are coming out of the factory so expensive.  Obviously Jeep are doing something basically wrong somewhere.  I know it's £45,000 before the EU adds the tariff on, so I look forward to being out of the EU for that reason alone!  But still, £45,000 for what is a reasonably basic 4x4 is just too much.

 

A little add-on for the gimps who don't understand Brexit and tariffs:

Out of that £5,000 the EU takes, it allows the UK to keep £1,000.  The other £4,000 goes directly from your bank account to the EU for them to spend on roads in Romania, egg production in Estonia, and to help Slovakia entice car manufacturers there away from their home countries.  Yep...£4,000 of YOUR money going to European countries direct out of your pocket.  How's that EU thing been working out for you?  Still want to remain?  What's that I hear you say, you don't buy American cars?  What about all the goods you buy every week of your life that come from across the globe.  EACH TIME the EU gladly took your money and sent it to Romania, Estonia, and Slovakia.  The EU thanks you very much, especially for your gullibility and ignorance.

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