Chrysler deserves high praise for keeping Jeep, Jeep®. Certainly they have expanded the lineup with a variety of new models, but in the process they have worked diligently to maintain the soul and heritage of the brand.
Of the six variations currently offered, the two-door Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited best preserve the original Jeep heritage and personality. All new in 2012, Jeep Wrangler models have evolved and improved building on the vehicle’s reputation for off-road prowess, dependability and good old fashion fun.
After spending a week recently in the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4×4 we could clearly see that Jeep’s benefactor is doing things right and it’s paying major dividends for Chrysler in the sales columns.
A few years back, Chrysler made a major investment to develop a new V-6 engine to be used in Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles. The result is the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that’s made the prestigious Ward’s 10 Best Engines for three years from 2011 through 2013. First used in the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee, introduced in 2010, the sophisticated V-6 engine is rated at 285 horsepower and 260-lb.ft. of torque. That’s up 83 horsepower from the previous 3.8-liter engine.
With the new engine, Wrangler’s on-road performance improved significantly giving it a 6.9-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration time, and the EPA gives it a 16 mpg city and 20 mpg highway rating — we averaged 16.9 mpg during our week of mixed driving.
There is also a new five-speed automatic transmission replacing the previous four-speed. The five-speed is smoother and when combined with the new engine eliminates the problem of unwanted shifts as the transmission hunts for the best gear. The transmission gearing not only helps improve fuel economy but it improves performance with a wider range of gear choices. For off-road, first gear is lower providing a lower overall crawl speed and more climbing power. For owners who prefer total control, the wrangler is also one of the only off-road vehicles still offered with a six-speed manual transmission.
The new drivetrain almost feels like the new Wrangler got a bionic injection making it much more responsive on-road, but also giving it extra power for the tough off-road demands that the Wrangler is so famous for.
The 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is still built with a body-on-frame construction with a front and rear five-link suspension system, live axles, electronic lockers, and an available Electronic Sway-bar Disconnect System to give the suspension even more range.
We won’t pretend to understand all the intricacies of the advanced drivetrain systems that make the Wrangler such a superior off-road machine. At the introduction a couple of years ago we drove this new Wrangler through an off-road course especially prepared by a group of Jeep driving instructors and it was amazing. We drove over rocks and logs, through deep holes and up steep slopes and back down. We literally could not have walked through the area, and we didn’t think we could drive through it, but we did, with hardly the spin of a wheel. We’ve both done quite a bit of off-road driving, but this was the most challenging courses we’ve driven, and it appeared to be almost like child’s play for the Jeep Wrangler.
The Wrangler may have a strong resemblance to the original Jeep, but it takes advantage of the latest technologies to make it safer and better. Standard equipment in the new Wrangler includes electronic stability control, Trailer-sway Control, electronic roll mitigation, traction control and Hill-start Assist.
As the original Jeep with a history going back to World War II, the Wrangler image has changed little, with the last major exterior change in 2007. At that time, the four-door Wrangler Unlimited was added to the lineup and it became a major success. All the Wrangler models are distinguished by their iconic round headlights, seven-slot grille, removable doors with exposed hinges, fold-down windshield and removable tops. The Jeep looks rugged and it is rugged.
The 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is currently available in eight model variations with pricing ranging from $27,190 for the Sport to $35,690 for the Rubicon. With all the available options the Rubicon can go as high as $42,460.
For anyone planning to do serious off-road driving, the Jeep is about as good as you can get, especially for the price. For someone that wants to look the part and know that they can climb mountains and boulders, if they wanted to, the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is perfect!