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#18

in Affordable Compact SUVs

MSRP: $22,395 - $34,995
Invoice: $21,838 - $32,961
MPG: 17 City / 21 Hwy
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Jeep Wrangler Performance

Test drivers say the 2014 Jeep Wrangler lives up to its heritage as a capable off-roader, but it lacks the ride comfort and refinement of its more on-road-oriented peers. They say that Wrangler models generally have adequate power for most situations, though the Wrangler Unlimited feels a bit sluggish when equipped with an automatic transmission.

  • "Although the current Jeep Wrangler is the most civilized version ever, it's still noisy, rough-riding and nothing at all like the compact and midsize crossover SUVs that dominate this price range. However, if your weekend plans include off-roading, this Jeep is arguably the most capable utility vehicle you can buy." -- Edmunds
  • "Bumpy pavement can trigger bouncy feel and wayward body motions. Wrangler is surprisingly cushioned on sharp ruts and ridges." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Powered by Chrysler's new Pentastar V6, the Jeep Wrangler for 2013 delivers an excellent balance of power and fuel economy; the Wrangler is also one of the last off-road vehicles still to offer a manual transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Jeep Wrangler is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. With either transmission, the two-door Wrangler is rated at an EPA-estimated 17/21 mpg city/highway, while the Wrangler Unlimited model earns a slightly lower 16/21 mpg with the manual transmission and 16/20 mpg with the automatic. The Wrangler's fuel economy estimates are on par with other off-road-oriented SUVs’, but are far less than what similarly-sized crossovers and compact SUVs average.

Most test drivers say that while the Wrangler is not particularly fast, it has enough power for most driving situations. Some critics caution that the four-door Wrangler can feel sluggish when equipped with the slow-shifting automatic transmission, while others say that the manual transmission has a smooth clutch pedal and a precise shifter.

See full 2014 Jeep Wrangler specs »

  • "While the Wrangler won't win any drag races, its V6 is capable and gets the heavy SUV moving briskly. The standard six-speed manual features precise but long throws, an easily modulated clutch and a hill start assist feature, which is a godsend for stopping and starting midway up hills while going off-road. The five-speed automatic, meanwhile, offers smooth shifts and good fuel economy. Acceleration can be sluggish in the heavier Wrangler Unlimited models, and when you factor in the automatic transmission's slow gearchanges, passing maneuvers often require a bit more planning." -- Edmunds
  • "The Pentastar V6 gives the Jeep Wrangler ample power, smooth operation, nice response and commendable highway fuel economy; It's just about as perfectly suited as it can be. And if you equip the Wrangler with the available 5-speed automatic, you'll enjoy enhanced refinement without giving up hardly any capability or efficiency." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 3.6-liter V6 provides sufficient power off the line and for highway passing; generous throttle input is only needed during hill climbs." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the Wrangler isn't as comfortable or refined to drive as more traditional crossovers and SUVs, as it exhibits body roll through turns, slow steering and nose dive under harder braking. Some reviewers say that the Wrangler is more comfortable than it used to be, but still isn't the best choice if a smooth ride on pavement is your priority. On the other hand, a few reviewers write that the Wrangler is fun to drive and two-door models are easy to maneuver because of their short length.

  • "Still, there's unexpected fun to be had in driving a Jeep Wrangler around town, as its short wheelbase makes it blissfully easy to maneuver in tight spaces if you don't mind the slow steering." -- Edmunds
  • "The suspension deals with pavement irregularities as well as it deals with off-road bumps and ruts, and the precise steering is as welcome off-pavement as on." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Wrangler exhibits body lean and noseplow in even moderate-speed cornering. The steering is light and slow in directional changes, and these SUVs are subject to crosswind wander." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Now we get to the stuff most people won't understand - aspects of the Wrangler most motorists would fairly view as inferiorities. Just stick with me. The Wrangler doesn't ride smoothly. It has improved dramatically over the years and is more livable than ever, especially in the relatively new Unlimited version, thanks to its longer wheelbase. But there's no overcoming its design and heavy-duty hardware." -- Cars.com (2013)

Off-Roading

The Wrangler comes standard with part-time four-wheel drive and a two-speed transfer case. The Rubicon trim features an electronic locking rear differential and suspension upgrades, which make it the most off-road capable Wrangler in the lineup. Reviewers say the Wrangler is as capable tackling tough terrain as it ever was, though some note that the Wrangler Unlimited’s larger size makes it less nimble on trails than the two-door Wrangler.

  • "Get away from the smooth and hard surfaces and the Wrangler is everything expected, capable of dealing with incredible landscapes and even crawling along at a walking pace." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "If your mission is to blaze trails off-road, you won't do much better than the 2014 Jeep Wrangler. The Rubicon trim is especially capable, thanks to its specialized hardware. The Wrangler Unlimited four-door isn't as nimble on tight trails as the shorter two-door model, but more generous cabin space means you can carry additional gear." -- Edmunds
  • "Off-road testing shows Wrangler in its best light. Its suspension design and array of traction-assisting technology subdues most obstacles." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "What a hoot. We crawled over rocks, forded creeks and generally tackled the most treacherous of terrain without breaking a sweat. Well, we did, but the Jeep was universally composed." -- AutoWeek (2012)
Review Last Updated: 5/16/14

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