2005 Jeep Wrangler

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$17,970

starting MSRP

2005 Jeep Wrangler

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Military-style ruggedness
  • Superior offroad capability
  • Heritage
  • Maneuverability

The bad:

  • Ride comfort
  • Interior noise
  • Fuel economy
  • Crude by modern standards

7 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2005 Jeep Wrangler trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • Quasi-military appearance
  • Four- or six-cylinder power
  • Available hardtop
  • Standard part-time 4WD
  • Low-range gearing

2005 Jeep Wrangler review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Lumbar? Yeah, right.

DVD players? Are you kidding?

And supple leather? Better go back to your cappuccino after your game of racquetball, dude.

At its core, the Jeep Wrangler is the ultimate toy.

Hardly refined, barely comfortable, the Wrangler is like that mousetrap ride you used to enjoy on summer trips to the amusement park.

“You’ve got to be crazy not to love this,” John Hales of Monterey, Calif., told me on a recent trip to the ultimate Jeep resort, something Chrysler calls Camp Jeep. “This is freedom.”

Not to mention fun.

They’ve been running Camp Jeep for 10 years now – mostly in Virginia and Colorado. This year was Chrysler’s first run in California.

The premise is simple: You can roll up in your own Jeep and spend a few days climbing mountains, traversing a ravine and pounding the blood out of your vehicle.

The bottom line: It provides the true off-roader experience that brings out the best in the 2005 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited, our test vehicle in California and back in the Midwest.

The real secret: After getting back on city streets, where the only off-roading usually involves a mall parking lot, the new Wrangler was just as capable.

For the un-Jeeped among us, the regular-length Wrangler comes as a two-door in four trim levels – SE, X, Sport and Rubicon. The Unlimited is an extended-wheelbase that also arrives with two doors, but only in Standard, Sport and Rubicon trim. With 15 extra inches in length, the beauty of the Unlimited is that it doubles the cargo capacity of the traditional model and increases rear-seat knee room for two more passengers who are forced to sit on the bench.

The dials and gauges look like a return to 1980. The seating position (close to the glass) is like a go-kart.

Take the highway in the soft-top Wrangler and you might need earplugs to negate the flapping cloth and plastic top. This is still pretty primitive – just a hair above motorcycle levels. But at least the interior can be cleaned with a hose.

A hard-top version is available and recommended. I’ve known too many people who have had their plastic Wrangler windows cut and had everything stolen with soft-top models. Also, an extraordinary amount of patience is required for the removal or installation of the soft version. But as an added plus, the soft-top can be folded back to provide the ultimate sunroof.

SE models are powered by a 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder that is mated to a six-speed manual transmission (new this year) and kicks out 147 horsepower.

A four-speed automatic is optional. All other trim levels get a hearty 4-liter in-line six-cylinder that makes 190 horsepower. Maximum towing capacity is 3,500 on Unlimited models.

The 4-liter offers all kinds of torque and excellent acceleration. It puts the fun in the Wrangler’s fun quotient.

The turning radius is tight – perfect for shopping mall “off-roading” – and the handling is reasonable.

As for drawbacks, there are a few.

Wind and road noise might bother some folks who have never owned a Jeep. The step-in height is more than your average SUV. And the suspension might be too jarring for some.

For those who don’t buy in, there are 10,000 Camp Jeep campers (and many others) who will take your spot.

At the heart of it, this isn’t about being refined. This is about off-roading, tough, go-anywhere driving.

It’s about an affordable ($23,745 in base Unlimited models), classic, fun-to-drive ride.

No leather. No lattes.

And proud of it.

2005 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited

Vehicle type: All-wheel-drive, front-engine, two-door, four-passenger sport utility vehicle

Key competition: Land Rover Freelander

Base engine: 147 horsepower 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder

Transmission: Six-speed manual or four-speed automatic

Standard safety equipment: Four-wheel disc brakes; dual front air bags

MPG rating: 15 city/19 highway

Manufactured: United States

Warranty: Basic warranty is three years/36,000 miles

Base price: $23,745

Price as tested (including destination and delivery): $26,025

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.8
  • Interior design 4.1
  • Performance 4.3
  • Value for the money 4.4
  • Exterior styling 4.6
  • Reliability 4.6

Most recent consumer reviews

3.3

Not that reliable

Bought the TJ used with 121,000 km and in seemingly good condition apart from rusted fenders and floor. Like the vehicle but the OPDA problem is significant. According to Chrysler bulletins stating what production date vehicles were subject to the OPDA problem, my TJ did not qualify. The OPDA gear on mine was nearly worn completely, I had major bucking problems and found out the cause on the internet, not via a Chrysler recall. I bought a new OPDA on the internet from a recognized supplier of a good replacement part. I am not sure if the cam gear is damaged. The engine seems to run reasonably well but the engine timing was quite tricky. I don't trust my TJ for long distances. I own a 2007 Liberty and a 2001 Cherokee Sport (176,00 km) and both have been very reliable. I have also owned a 2006 Liberty, a 1992 Cherokee Sport and a 1984 CJ and all were good reliable vehicles.

4.1

Off Road performance is great

Great around town as the short steering radius allows very easy parking and the short length for negotiating traffic. Not so great on fuel economy as it has the 4.0 inline 6 engine.

4.9

The best of a legend.

For the 2005 model year Jeep offered the Jeep Wrangler with a special edition Willys package. The package included a special metallic olive green paint and olive green soft top. Inside of the Wrangler were seats dressed in iconic woodland BDU camouflage. Wranglers of this variety are easily identified by the Willys logo on the front quarter panel, black settle wheels, and typically a sticker package reminiscent of the early Willys MB and Ford GPW. The venerable 4.0L I6 engine comes standard offering undeniable reliability and low-end grunt expected of the standard barrier of offroad vehicles. The Rubicon of this generation is undeniably the GOAT, but the 05 Willys is a highly desired and unique offering. Personally speaking out of all the vehicles I’ve owned this will always be my favorite.

See all 49 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Jeep
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/less than 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
3 months/3,000 miles
Powertrain
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
125-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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