by: Aman Sundher
Jeep has taken the sport utility vehicle market by storm in the last 10 years. Now, I realize I just offended 90% of Jeep owners everywhere by not calling the Wrangler a truck, but just bear with me here. The Jeep Wrangler is the iconic go anything, do anywhere vehicle. Jeep really prides itself on its off-road capability and overall ruggedness. And for good reason, the short wheelbase, low overhangs and excellent ground clearance really do excel on the trails. But is it a good day to day driver? And does it really live up to its hype?
The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most recognizable vehicles on the road today. Jeep has taken the “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” approach for the last 75 years and it’s more popular now than ever. Take that Mini and VW Beetle. The 75th Anniversary Edition Wrangler comes in Sarge Green and I have to say it looks fantastic. It’s a great throwback to the original dark green of the classic army Jeeps of the day. The bronze wheels, bumper and trim contrast the relatively dark green paint and really stand out.
The top is still removable and on the four-door model, there’s a smaller piece above the front seats that I absolutely love. It’s like having a targa top or a really big sun roof. In fact, the two-piece roof, all four doors and the upper tailgate are all still removable. You better have a spare spot in the garage because all of the extra parts take up the space of another car. Not to mention trying to remove the roof on your own can end with scratched paint, swearing, a sprained back and lots more swearing. It’s a two-person job on the best of days. Once the roof is off, it’s pretty easy to see what all the fuss is about. There’s nothing like cruising around on sunny days with no roof and half doors. If you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it.
I’m not sure how I feel about the interior to be honest. Jeep made a huge effort to really class it up with the 75th anniversary model but there’s still a very utilitarian feel to it. There’s a blend of gorgeous leather, big 6.5” touchscreen display and bronze trim contrasting with the plastic panels, dash and roof. The seats are a soft brown leather and extremely comfortable in the front and the rear. The steering wheel is great and the controls are very easy to use. That being said, in my opinion if you are going to go luxury don’t stop half way. The dash and center console is still made of plastic, so is half of the door panels and trim. There isn’t really much of a roof liner and the interior noise is still quite loud. Granted, Jeep did install an epic sound system to make up for it, but you can’t always have your music blasting all of the time. The window controls drove me absolutely bonkers. Jeep placed them right in the middle of the dash between the vents and the buttons are hooked over on a very odd angle. I understand the need to not keep them in the doors in case you remove them, but what was wrong with the classic toggle style switches? Now about that SUV comment, not only does Jeep call the wrangler an SUV on their website, but a truck has an open compartment in the rear for external storage. Case closed, get over it. Yell at me in the comments.
Jeep switched over to the 3.6L Pentastar V6 in 2012 to replace the 3.8L in the previous model years. To be honest, I really miss the 4.0L inline HO 6-cylinder engine from the earlier models. The 3.6 liter has plenty of torque but really lacks horsepower. It really shows when passing or merging on the highway. Anything over 4,000 rpm and the engine seems to fall on its face. Available in both a 5-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual, I much prefer the manual. The clutch is fantastic, as there’s lots of feel through the pedal; first gear is a great low gear for climbing. However, I think the transmission is mounted directly to the suspension because if I drove over any bumps or sewer covers the shifter was shaken out of my hand. So violently in fact that I actually crawled underneath to make sure the transmission mounts hadn’t sheared off. The ride was exactly what I expected from Jeep; soft and supple with lots of travel. And just as expected, the body roll was pretty substantial. Emergency lane changes or animal avoidance may result in an upside-down Jeep and a very unhappy Aman.
Overall, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler 75th Anniversary is pretty much exactly what I expected. An unreal off roader that compromised luxury for function. Now, I do realize that this may be coming off as a negative review, it’s anything but. I just wanted to clear the air that the Jeep is an amazing SUV with lots of great features. But if you’re looking for a comfortable vehicle that’s going to spend 95% of its life on the road because it looks cool, maybe drive one before you buy one. For all those off-road enthusiasts out there, this Jeep is exactly what you’re looking for.