Nothing is more traditional than the smallest, entry-level Jeep model, which is a direct descendant of the military Jeep that assisted in the Allied victory during World War II. In fact, the Wranglers predecessors are considered by many to be the pioneers of the sport utility class, even though the term SUV didnt come into existence until Jeeps had been around for decades.
A new, more affordable X model aimed at younger buyers joins the lineup for 2002 with a 4.0-liter engine and cloth seats. The Wrangler Sahara now features a standard 30-inch Tire and Wheel Group, hard doors with roll-up windows and Sentry Key, an engine-immobilizing theft-deterrent system. Sport models get a fresh look with standard full doors that contain roll-up windows, as well as fog lamps and tow hooks.
DaimlerChryslers Jeep division produces the Wrangler in two forms: as a two-door convertible with either a folding soft-top or an optional removable hardtop. A redesigned Wrangler is thought to be nearing production, but DaimlerChrysler has made no announcement. If nothing else, major mechanical changes possibly including a new suspension are likely in the next year or so. The Wrangler was last redesigned for the 1997 model year.
Even with a quick glance, theres no mistaking the heritage or toughness of a Wrangler, starting with the upright vertical grille that echoes the World War II version. Both the windshield and soft convertible top fold down when the driving situation permits. Half-steel doors contain zip-out plastic side windows, which adds to the vehicles paramilitary appearance. The folding soft-top is a four-ply design. A metal hardtop and roll-up side windows are optional, making the driving experience considerably more civilized.
Two front occupants have bucket seats. A folding two-place rear bench is standard on the Sport and Sahara models and optional on the base SE. An optional Add-A-Trunk feature provides a lockable storage compartment in the cargo area. Its made of injection-molded compound and features thumbscrews that make it easier to remove or slide forward.
Under the Hood
Either a four- or six-cylinder engine is available, each with four-wheel drive. The Wranglers base engine is a trusty 120-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and the optional power plant is a 190-hp, 4.0-liter inline-six-cylinder. Both team with either a three-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. Part-time 4WD is intended for use only on slippery surfaces. Antilock brakes are available on selected models.
Modern-day Wranglers are a lot more civilized than their ancestors from the early 1990s and before. Whether motoring down the highway, whipping through urban byways or traversing the most demanding offroad terrain, theyre nimble, quick, precise and fun to drive. Wranglers can get noisy, but not nearly as much as they did in the past.