Few vehicles are as undeniable cool as a Jeep. These SUVs look equally at home four-wheel driving through the snow, cruising sans roof or doors along the beach or just sitting in city traffic. The Wrangler is Jeep’s most well-known, and arguably most well-loved model. If you’re thinking about one for yourself (and let’s be honest: who hasn’t at least considered it?), here are seven things to know about Jeep Wranglers before you buy.
It’s got a storied history.
Jeep has a long and elaborate connection to the U.S. military. In fact, the term jeep was slang for any type of military vehicle in the first half of the twentieth century. Jeeps really shot to fame during World War II when the U.S. and its allies used the vehicles. The first civilian edition (the CJ, or Civilian Jeep), was first sold in 1945, and replaced by the Wrangler in 1986.
It’s not the most reliable vehicle…
Jeep Wranglers are notoriously fickle vehicles. When it comes to reliability, the professionals don’t hold back on the Wrangler’s shortcomings. In fact, J.D. Power & Associates ranked Jeep 29th out of 33 brands on its annual vehicle dependability study back in 2016, and Consumer Reports ranked the Wrangler #1 on its worst value list in 2014.
…. But you probably won’t mind.
The important thing is, none of this seems to matter to Jeep enthusiasts. Whether they’re looking to tap into Jeep’s military history, its youthful feel, or the brand’s sense of adventure, people keep buying Jeep Wranglers despite what reviewers say. In fact, March of 2018 was a record-breaking sales month for Jeep, driven in large part by interest in the Wrangler.
It really is great off road.
The Jeep Wrangler won’t break any records for reliability, but if you want to go off roading, this is a vehicle you can count on. Just like their military forbearers, today’s Wranglers will get you where you need to go, even (perhaps especially) if your route involves fording streams or climbing steep inclines. While reviewers don’t have many kind things to say about the Wrangler’s on-road performance, it’s consistently ranked top among SUVs for off-road expeditions.
You’ll need to select the type of top you want.
When you picture owning a Jeep Wrangler you probably think about driving without the top. After all, the option to do just that is part of what makes this SUV iconic. However, getting the top off and on your Jeep will require some work. Hard tops are heavier and bulkier, but will keep you warm during cold months and make the cabin quieter. Soft tops are a bit easier to store, but many people find them finicky to take on and off. They’re also the cheaper option.
The steering is a bit hard to handle.
One drawback on the Jeep Wrangler is that the steering performance is not very sharp. The Wrangler has wide turning circles and less than ideal responsiveness. That might not matter when you’re out in the wilderness, but drivers trying to navigate tight city turns should be aware of this limitation.
The engine is powerful.
The Jeep Wrangler packs a lot of power, which is part of the reason its four-wheel drive performance is so great. However, you’ll also appreciate the acceleration when you’re driving down the highway or taking off from a red light.