Jeep is one of the most (perhaps THE most?) recognizable brand of vehicle worldwide. When you think about it, it’s not surprising because it’s essentially the same overall boxy look we saw dating back to World War II. How many other brands have retained the same overall look for over the entire lifespan of their existence? Porsche comes to mind but that’s about it. Jeep’s success has resulted in a type of cult following where people need to have them no matter what and that’s exactly what you want for your brand.
The last major redesign came three years ago for the 2018 model. The Wrangler was totally re-worked to the point where the company marketed it as all-new. The untrained eye may not have even noticed much of a difference from the previous generation model but that’s just fine because you don’t change a winning design if you don’t need to.
New for 2021 is the addition of a diesel engine. The engine is a slightly modified version of the 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 that RAM uses in the 1500 pickup truck making 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. Despite adding an extra 440 pounds of weight, the added power gives the Jeep the tools to power through just about anything in its way. I only had the chance to plow through a bit of snow but fully expect it to be able to climb mountains.
Jeep took extra care so that the diesel powerplant doesn’t sound like a heavy-duty pickup. Its audible diesel sound is still there to the trained ear but most people won’t notice it. The company engineers spent a lot of time making sure that not only the engine itself was quiet but that the noise wouldn’t seem into the cabin as well. There is extra insulation, different carpets and internal vibration damping.
The engine uses the latest technology to optimize performance, range and fuel efficiency. Even with my city-heavy driving I was able to get it below 9L /100km which is amazing. Some people have reported even going below 8L/100km!
Using the Jeep as a family hauler is probably why I wasn’t overly impressed with the vehicle’s overall practicality. It’s tough for small children to get in and out of. The trunk can be difficult to access as a result of the horizontally-swinging hatch that must be opened all the way to let the top glass open. This makes visits to tight grocery store parking lots a bit of a chore. In the end I suppose it’s not the worst family hauler but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
Thanks to dozens of different door, top and windshield combinations allow for endless configuration possibilities, the Wrangler is easy to turn into an open-air funhouse. It comes with the tools you need to remove the doors or even the top on certain models (not this one). There is plenty of room for adults in the front and the rear thanks to the Unlimited’s four doors. The functional layout of the cabin is welcome although small things like the window buttons in the center console to allow for the “no doors” mode take some getting used to.
The leather seating was very comfortable and the interior look is quite pleasing to the eye. I’d like to see some dials for temperature control but that’s about all I’d change. I will also note that the cord for the wiring going to the driver’s door kept hitting my left food and I’m sure a better design could eliminate that.
As with most niche products you need to be prepared to open your wallet. The least expensive 4-door Wrangler Unlimited starts at $40,060. The Unlimited Sahara you see pictured here starts at $48,816 however this price includes only the base Pentastar V6 engine with a manual transmission. If you want to benefit from the diesel engine, you’ll need to shell out an additional $9,190. Add some of the myriad of options and you’re easily over $70,000.
If you want the best value for your money, stick to the lesser trims and limit the amount of options you take. You can still get a fun vehicle with the full Jeep experience.