It’s always interesting reading other peoples reviews of a car that you’ve just driven, sometimes I’m like, ‘Yeah, I agree with that.’ Other times I’m gawping in dismay at what appears pure ignorance, and with the Wrangler it was certainly the latter as one reviewer actually called it a pointless vehicle and only gave it 3/10. Now, being a long standing Land Rover enthusiast you would think that I’d be smirking in agreement, but I wasn’t, in fact I was quite angry.
I think these days, with the over saturation of crossover AWD’s with their car like handing, some motoring journalists are forgetting the point of vehicles like the Wrangler, Defender and to a degree the G-Wagen. They’re built for a purpose, and that purpose is getting you from A to Z via the most inhospitable terrain you can think of. If you’re going to be clambering over boulders, wading through rivers and fighting for grip through the greasiest of mud holes then yes, your 4×4 might be a little off road biased. Don’t jump in a proper 4×4 and expect it to drive like the brilliant Mazda CX-5 – it isn’t going to happen, deal with it!
So, with that little lot off my chest, what did I think of the 2015, 2.8 diesel Jeep Wrangler Overland? Well, let me just say that the only other car that day to make me smile as much was the Bentley Continental, I loved it!
Jumping in felt good, and the first thing I noticed after adjusting the comfortable black leather seat and mirrors was that you’re not struggling for space like you are in a Defender. The view is good, but I thought the leather wrapped steering wheel was a tad large in diameter, but functional, and the all the dials and switchgear were all to hand, which was good.
Someone complained that the dash was made was hard plastic, I don’t think they understood that it’s easier to wipe mud of a plastic dash than it is with make believe leather.
Once on the open road the first thing that surprised me was that it wasn’t as pitchy as I thought it would be for a short wheelbase, I think the standard equipment Electronic Stability Control may have had something to with that. I did however think that the steering was a tad light and twitchy, but then I was driving along a rather bumpy country lane.
Karen Lee was in the passenger seat messing with things, she prodded the padded roll cage, flicked on the heated seats, checked the 60/40 split folding rear seats and nodded with approval – ‘So far so good.’ She announced. Not only was she was amazed by the decent sized glovebox, but the heater was exceptional, but you’d want a good heater in a vehicle that has a removable roof.
The 2.8 Common Rail Diesel pushed the Wrangler along comfortably, its not not going to break any speed records, and nor should it, it’s built for ruggedness. Having said that, the 5 speed auto fitted to this Jeep, according to their official figures, can propel this box shaped 4×4 to 62mph in under 11 seconds, and carry on until you reach the dizzy heights of 107mph.
Fuel consumption wise, they reckon urban is 29mpg and extra urban is 39.8mpg, giving a combined 35mpg with CO2 emissions of 213(g/km), if you’re interested in that.
I was having fun, driving the Wrangler reminded me of my old rag topped V8 90, a fun, practical and capable vehicle that always put the biggest smile on my face as every trip was an adventure. I was having so much fun I didn’t notice the media centre that included a Uconnect phone system with voice command, USB connectivity and 6.5″ colour touchscreen satellite navigation. Thankfully, I didn’t have have use for the advanced multistage front air bags either, but the Premium audio (alpine) system with subwoofer was loud!
Any complaints? Well, there was not enough room for my left size 11 foot as the transmission tunnel tapers in at the clutch. It would be interesting to have it for a week or two to see if I get used to it or not. Also, there’s the huge protruding front bumper which I would imagine could catch you out in a car park. I suspect it has something to do legislation dictating to being pedestrian friendly.
Being honest, 20 minutes isn’t really long enough to get a proper handle on a vehicle, heck, I didn’t even take it on the motorway to check out wind noise and so on.
To summarise then, the Wrangler is only pointless if you want to take it on track days, like a Lamborghini Gallardo is pointless if you live on a hill farm in the middle of Wales and need to tow a trailer. If you want a proper 4×4 to do proper 4×4 stuff, then a Jeep Wrangler should be near the top of your list. I’ve said the same thing about the Defender and G-Wagen and I’ll say it again here, you don’t buy a Wrangler because you want a 4×4, you buy a Wrangler because you want a Wrangler.