The Wrangler is offered in two different body styles: the shorter, traditional-looking two-door Wrangler and the longer, four-door Wrangler Unlimited. All Wrangler models come tough and off-road-ready, with standard four-wheel drive, but Wrangler Unlimited models can be specified with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Regardless of the body style, all Wranglers come with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine making 202 horsepower and 237 pound-feet of torque, delivered through either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Although the automatic has fewer gears than most modern transmissions, it works well because of the engine's torquey, responsive character.
The Wrangler looks the part of off-road vehicle, with exposed hinges, full-framed doors, angular sheetmetal, and a hinged, fold-down windshield, along with several top options. A SunRider soft top includes a partial-open "sun roof" position as well as the full open-air experience, and the three-piece Freedom Top brings a quieter, more weatherproof interior for those in cold-weather states.
Wrangler X and Sahara models come with standard four-wheel drive, but Wrangler Unlimited X and Sahara models can be specified with rear-wheel drive. The 4WD system offered here is the Command-Trac part-time system, with a low-range transfer case and available Trac-Lok limited-slip differential. Working with this setup are a Dana 30 front axle and heavy-duty Dana 44 rear axle.
The Rubicon model is outfitted for extreme off-roaders, at slight detriment to on-road comfort, and includes a host of extra equipment such as heavy-duty front and rear Dana 44 axles, a Rock-Trac transfer case with low-range creeper gear, electric front and rear lockers, and big 32-inch BF Goodrich off-road tires. An electronic sway-bar disconnect allows the Rubicon to handle acceptably on the road in between off-road outings.
Sahara models slot between the base X model and the Rubicon, including tow hooks, heavy-duty shocks, machined cast-aluminum wheels, on/off-road OWL tires, fog lamps and tubular side steps.
On the entire Wrangler lineup, electronic stability control, which helps prevent the loss of control that could lead to a rollover, is standard, and it includes full-off and partial-on modes to help in situations where some wheelspin is useful. Hill Start Assist helps prevent rollback on steep, slippery grades, and a new Trailer Sway Control is integrated with the system to assure stability while towing. Anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist are also standard, but seat-mounted side airbags are a $490 option.
Base versions of the Wrangler come simply equipped--the way many buyers want them. The base X comes with manual-wind windows, and air conditioning is optional. Jeep knows that its buyers want a good sound system, though -- a six-speaker CD/MP3 unit is standard. In addition to the functional and appearance extras, the Sahara adds upgrades such as cruise control, keyless entry, an alarm, air conditioning and Infinity speakers with a subwoofer. Options include a remote start system and a MyGig hard-drive entertainment system.
For 2009, the Wrangler gets a couple of new storage spaces--a storage net at the bottom of the dash and a bin in the center console. Hill Start Assist is newly standard across the line, and Trailer Sway Control is available. Otherwise, there are few changes except some new colors; Sunburst Orange Pearl Coat replaces Rescue Green Metallic Clear Coat, and Deep Water Blue Pearl Coat replaces Steel Blue Metallic Clear Coat.