You are here
Review: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
In the Rann of Kutch, there are mirages on the horizon and the routes are all in your head. Luckily, a big red Jeep keeps things real
We have been waiting for this day for a long, long time. It seems like, wait, it has been years since Jeep announced their intentions of doing business on our shores and they have taken their sweet time to sort themselves out. If you have been waiting for this moment with bated breath, well you must have serious lung capacity to have held on this long. Either way, we can let out a collective hurrah as the Wrangler and the Cherokee are now officially on sale. To keep you entertained in the meanwhile, here is what we gathered from our epic adventure with the Wrangler, out in the middle of nowhere, being an insignificant dot on the map. Read on.
First things first, this is the Jeep. Not just any other SUV that is referred to as a ‘Jeep’. This is the real deal, in all its originality. The shape, the grille, they are iconic and often copied by others, but that shouldn’t confuse you because there is a big old logo sitting on top of the seven-vertical slats right up front and it spells J-E-E-P. This is as old school as a style can get. There is little that has changed over 75-years of its existence. The shape is instantly recognisable and the latest generation Wrangler does not mess about with it. Yes, it is a bit of a bummer that Jeep India has chosen to bring in only the five-door version.
On the inside though, there is nothing ancient about it. The leather seats feel great, there’s a big screen sitting in the middle of the dash with the infotainment system, Bluetooth telephone integration and navigation as well. You have climate control too with big burly knobs that are easy to operate and it works pretty well as we found out. And in case you are wondering, yes, it comes with heated seats too. All bases covered then. The bit that you need to get used to are the power window switches that sit high up in between the central aircon vents, because, you know, you could take the doors off if you felt like it. Just like you could take the roof off if you wanted to. Cool. Damn right it is.
Powering the show is a 2.8-litre, turbocharged diesel motor, which dishes out 197bhp and a very impressive 460Nm of torque. Unfortunately, Jeep is offering it only with a five-speed automatic transmission, instead of the six-speed manual that is available abroad. I say unfortunate because this particular automatic transmission functions at a leisurely pace at best, and that is, when you select manual mode and shift up/ down the gearbox yourself. If you leave it alone to select ratios on its own, it can be quite a wait. Consequently, acceleration is at a stately pace with no part of it being rushed through and 100kph does eventually come up. However, beyond these speeds, it is a different story altogether as the ladder-on-frame chassis with live axles at both ends make it slightly wayward. The steering needs constant correction and bumps and potholes are likely to affect your course, too. Even the pedals are rather upright, which means you need to use a bit of force to get the accelerator pedal pinned down on the floor. We didn’t really have much of an opportunity to push it around corners, but it is unlikely to be sprightly in this department too.
Where the Jeep legacy does come in is with its off-road ability. The Wrangler in particular, even this longer wheelbase, five-door version can stand around and beat its chest in a crowd of SUVs and it is possibly going to go unchallenged. If you are still wondering, yes, that is how good it is for a bone-stock vehicle. You can point it in any direction and it keeps going. The automatic transmission, which feels sluggish on the road, does just fine here – supplying the correct amount of torque to pull through. The ground clearance is pretty good and there is a simple four-wheel drive selector that you use to get past obstacles. There are no modes to choose from, no great bank of electronics. Yes, there is traction control, but you can turn it off completely and it has hill-descent control as well, should you feel the need for it. Apart from that you can simply shift to four-wheel-drive low should things get hairy and trust the car to sort itself out. It works incredibly well off-road and there are a whole lot of additional options that are available in case you would like to show it more extreme trails.
At the end of the day, the Wrangler is an icon, a proper Jeep that you can lay your hands on and experience the thrill of driving one around. It isn’t the most comfortable highway mile-muncher, but then if you are a proper Wrangler sort of a guy, you probably take back roads and prefer disappearing into trails over the weekend, instead of doing flat out drives across expressways.
The fact that you can turn it into an open top, door-less SUV using a couple of simple tools has to be an especially charming feature. There’s also the fact that you can pull a few drain plugs off the floor of the car and give it a proper hose down to get rid of all the grime you may have picked up along the way. And in case you have been a Jeep fanatic over the years, this is as good as it can possibly get.
The asking price of Rs 71.50 lakh, however, is steep and could be a challenge to get over. We hope Jeep India will look at a barebones three-door variant with a good old manual gearbox as well, which should cost a fair bit less.
Words: Debabrata Sarkar
Photographer: Rajeev Gaikwad
Engine: 2777cc, turbodiesel
Power: 197bhp at 3600rpm
Torque: 460Nm at 1600-2600rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Fuel Tank: 85 litres
Price: Rs 71.5 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi Pros: Off-road ability, clips for essential bits like the air-box, in case you need to clean it out, bonnet clips and locks on the fuel cap make it more involving Cons: On-road manners, five-speed auto ’box needs to be used in manual for any degree of effectiveness, small footwell has no space for your left foot Bottomline: There isn’t just one reason why you should buy the Wrangler. Its off-road ability, its cool quotient and its old-school charm overshadow its ordinary on-road performance and refinement. And these make you crave one, not just want to have it. Score 7/10