At nearly 70, Jeep is still the one.

Jeep has such a storied and legendary history while also being the one brand most synonymous with offroad. For nearly half a century the iconic runabout carried American servicemen and women to and from their assigned posts and in recent decades the Jeep Wrangler has garnered more “best of” awards in the offroad segment than all competitors combined.

Several years back Jeep decided to expand the platform a bit, stretching the chassis from two doors to four, giving birth to the Wrangler Unlimited.

We had seen Jeep use the name Unlimited on its Wrangler model lineup prior to that, but never before had it been more appropriate. Jeep finally offered a true four-door Wrangler model dubbed Unlimited and available in more versions than ever before.

In addition to the option of an extra pair of doors, Jeep also chose that time to for Wrangler to receive stiffer frame and body components as well as new steering and suspension geometry. And thanks to an extra 20.6 inches in wheelbase length Unlimited models offer up a more stable ride.

Jeep offers Wrangler Unlimited in a choice of 4×2 and 4×4 running gear, the former aimed at the hip urban crowd who will never venture out of the city or off campus, and the latter for those who have made Jeep a household name (especially if your house is in Colorado).

The Jeep of today offers almost all of the modern amenities – power windows and locks, ABS brakes, electronic stability program, traction control, electronic roll mitigation, limited slip rear differential and an electronic front sway bar disconnect.

True to its roots though, Jeep still outfits their offroaders with heavy-duty Dana locking front and rear axles, rock rails, underbody skid plate protection, front and rear tow hooks, sport bar with full padding and 17- or 18-inch machined cast aluminum wheels with up to 32-inch mud and snow tires (with a fullsize spare mounted on back, of course).

Thank goodness Jeep has given the Wrangler Unlimited full-frame metal doors with glass side windows, those zip around plastic ones of years past were a real pain in the drive-thru not to mention flapping like crazy in the wind.
The recent Wrangler we tested came with the optional three-piece Freedom top hardtop bolted on. A soft Sunrider top was still included and folded back in the rear cargo area should consumers choose to change roofs every once in a while. I noticed the doors are still removable even with their modern power features.

Our Jeep tester was quiet on the road with very little wind noise despite it feeling like a bit of a plow in head-on gusts.

There is more power under the hood of the new Wrangler models, which is a blessing as the platform is toting a bit more weight these days. Still, the 202 ponies from the 3.8-liter V-6 will have not have you passing many vehicles on the road and fuel economy runs between 15 and 19 mpg. Still, its 237 lb. ft. of torque does propel the Jeep adequately when the pavement ends.

Inside there is plenty of room for five adults and rear seat passengers don’t need to be trained acrobats to climb in and out thanks to the second set of fullsize doors. Seat material is the YES Essentials stain/odor resistant product, of which I am not a fan of. I have experienced this material in several vehicles and I do not feel it hides stains nor do I feel it resists odors. Chrysler, across the board, has to get rid of this crap.

The new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited looks good sitting still or crawling over an outcropping of rocks. I actually prefer its styling over the two-door Wrangler models but Jeep purists may quickly disagree.

Pricing for our test model 2010 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 starts at $28,905 and after a few add-ons, stickers out at just over 36 grand. We had not one but two aftermarket MOPAR chrome packages on the media fleet unit. Nice, but I will take mine sans bling.

After nearly 70 years, Jeep is still the one.

Categories: Autos, Reviews

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2 replies

  1. Hey David,

    Nice writeup on the Unlimited. I’m one of those “Jeep purists” that likes the 2-door vs. the 4, but I guess I can’t blame Chrysler for trying to widen their customer base a bit here. A few of my friends w/ kids have jumped on the 4-door model since the 2-door just wasn’t a practical primary/family vehicle in the past…although their Jeeps will never see trails. Chrysler appears to be successful here selling the “image” (how you feel when you’re driving a Jeep vs. a minivan) instead of making it all about the functionality (good move by them).

    I like my good ol’ TJ though…a Jeep doesn’t feel right to me unless I’m getting an arm workout when I roll down the windows as well as getting greasy hands when I “manually” disconnect my swaybar offroad. :)



  1. Giant Gizmo