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With its unique combination of off-road capability and surprising on-road refinement, the new Jeep Wrangler is bursting with character and personality.

24 Jun 2019



We like to lambast modern SUVs for being bland and soulless lumps made for uninteresting and boring drivers. After all, while many of these SUVs tout off-roading capability and being able to conquer all manner of terrain, most of these cars will spend 99% of their time with all four wheels on tarmac (1% possibly from one wheel mounting a curb).

If you wanted a big, high-riding SUV that's something quite of the ordinary, well, Jeep's got just the car for you - the brand new Wrangler, an authentic and unapologetic say-no-to-tarmac off-roading beast.

The new Jeep Wrangler JL is the fourth generation model of the brand's iconic off-roader

A look for the ages

When you think of a Jeep, a specific and distinct image comes to mind. Yep, the new Wrangler looks exactly how you imagine it does. That's a good thing. With roots from the original Willys Jeeps trucking around soldiers during World War II, the Wrangler has always embraced its rugged aesthetic.

This new generation JL model (replacing the JK generation model that's more than 10 years old) retains all of the hallmark Wrangler design elements, albeit with modern updates. The iconic seven-slot grille is now flanked on either side by LED headlights, while the traditional square tail lamps now use LEDs as well.

The Wrangler's seven-slot grille is iconic and instantly recognisable

Instantly recognisable and undoubtedly unique, there's no doubt the Wrangler stands out on the road. However, while it may look the same, the new generation Wrangler has been extensively updated. There's a new ladder frame on which the now lighter bodywork sits on. All of the four lightweight aluminium doors can be removed if you so desire, as well as the roof, hard top and/or soft top. The windshield can also be folded down flat, giving you an open-air experience. 

Going pro

The all new cabin is where the Wrangler has notably improved. Thanks to significant improvements of materials, technology and construction, it's a much more pleasant place to be in, and more practical and comfortable for everyday use.

The front roof panels can be easily removed for open-top driving

There's a new 8.4-inch touchscreen featuring the fourth generation Uconnect system that is surprisingly easy and intuitive to operate. There are USB ports to charge your phone, and the dashboard also has a 7.0-inch LED display to display all manner of information.

However, don't for a minute think that this has come as the cost of true off-roading ruggedness and practicality. The fabric seats are easily washable, there's plenty of storage spaces, and in general the cabin still feels authentically durable.

The new 8.4-inch touchscreen runs the new generation Uconnect system that's easy and intuitive to use

There are some issues, though. There's not much space for your left foot in the driver-side foot well (we suspect this is an issue created by converting the car to right-hand drive), so your left foot may get uncomfortable on long drives. And, the trade off for having rugged and tough materials is extensive use of plastics. 

Go anywhere

Where the Wrangler has taken the biggest leap forward is its on-road refinement. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine (the previous generation model was powered by a 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine). 

It's more road tax friendly, but still delivers ample power. With 268bhp and 400Nm of torque on tap, the 2.0-litre engine has very similar power figures to the 3.6-litre V6. Drivers will definitely appreciate the added low-end torque from the turbo.

The new five-link suspension has had a notable positive effect on the car's ride - there's undoubtedly still lots of vertical travel, but it doesn't feel uncomfortably bouncy, as if you are riding a boat.

At the heart of the Wrangler is a new turbocharged 2.0-litre engine producing 268bhp and 400Nm of torque

The cabin is also a lot quieter on the trot. Wind noise only starts to be detectable above 80km/h, and even then it's still not a massive issue.

But, the Wrangler is fundamentally an off-roader, and this means that on tarmac, inevitable compromises must be made. The steering is worryingly disconnected and floaty, and especially at high speeds the car sometimes feels like it has a mind of its own, drifting lightly to either side of the lane (of which there isn't much space left considering the car's girth).

This means that you have to be constantly alert to make regular steering adjustments. There's also quite a bit of body roll in corners, but anyone expecting otherwise is a fool.

Quieter, more comfortable and better-appointed, the cabin is significantly proved on this new generation model

Go your own way

Drive the Wrangler a little and you immediately realise just how different an actual off-road focused SUV is from its on-road brethren.

And that's sort of the point. Anyone buying this car is almost certainly going to take it off road. We're told members from the Jeep Owners Club Singapore make regularly jaunts up into Malaysia as often as on a weekly basis. If you buy a Wrangler and spend all of your time on tarmac, you'd seriously doing something wrong.

The Wrangler's immense off-road ability forms the crux of its unique character and personality

Let's be very clear on one thing - if you like and want a Jeep Wrangler, this new one is much improved, offering significant quality-of-life improvements without compromising its innate off-roading character and ability. And if you don't, well, just go ahead and buy any one of the 5,000 other crossovers on the market.

The new Jeep Wrangler is chock full of character, personality and authenticity, something sorely lacking in the vast majority of SUVs in the market. 

With notably improved on-road refinement, the new Wrangler is now capable of bringing its characterful off-road demeanour to a wider audience

And it is precisely this unique combination of off-road ability and surprising on-road usability that makes the Wrangler such a unique thing. It feels almost wrong to judge it by regular car standards, because this isn't a regular car. You can use it like one, but it opens up the promise of dong so much more. 

And that, no matter how you cut it, is just plain cool. 

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Car Information

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Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4-Door 2.0 (A)
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Price

: $239,999

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1995cc

Horsepower

:

200kW (268 bhp)

Torque

:

400 Nm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

7.3sec

Top Speed

:

199km/h

Fuel consumption

:

11.6 km/L

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