– Detroit, Michigan
More than just about any other vehicle I can think of, you either want a Jeep Wrangler, or you don’t. The most dedicated BMW 3 Series owner might at least cross-shop an Audi A4, because both sedans essentially do the same thing with small variations. But nobody’s cross-shopping a Wrangler – other off-roaders may have some of the same capabilities, but none that I’ve driven have anything like the same characteristics, good or bad.
The version you see here plays on that heritage: a 75th Anniversary Edition, in “Sarge Green” that harkens back to the company’s military roots. But it’s still a modern Jeep with all of the amenities, and tradeoffs, of every other Wrangler.
- The whole roof comes off! I’m a convertible guy, so any car that gives me access to the heavens earns brownie points (I once very seriously considered buying a Geo Metro Convertible for solely this reason, but was talked down from the ledge). Sure, it takes about ten minutes and two strong people to remove the back section of the Unlimited’s “Freedom Top,” but then you’re in for summer fun (until it rains). This is a big reason why the Wrangler is one of the best hot-climate or summertime vehicles ever conceived.
- The doors come off! See bullet above.
- I’m not typically a huge fan of the Unlimited version of the Wrangler, but I do appreciate the extra cargo space for storing the roof panels. Also, I was able to put four adults and their inflatable watercraft in the Jeep, for a (short) trip to the Huron River.
- It sometimes seems like Jeep sells more “limited edition” products than it does standard stuff, but I still find this 75th Anniversary treatment entertaining. The color is eye-catching, the wheels cool, and I earned about 25 waves from other Jeep drivers over the course of a weekend. Success.
- I engaged the low range of the four-wheel-drive system exactly once, to drive up a hill of gravel for a photo that didn’t work out. That’s a little sad, considering the Wrangler is still one of the best off-road vehicles, straight from the showroom, that money can buy. But it’s also probably representative of actual owner behaviour. Suffice it to say: the Wrangler can go anywhere, should you ask it to.
- My commute runs 40 to 60 minutes, depending on traffic, from Ann Arbor to Detroit. And the current JK Wrangler is probably better at handling that in a composed fashion than any of its predecessors. Even still, it’s loud, not particularly quick, and wanders from side to side in the highway lane anytime you’re not keeping a firm grip on the wheel.
- Power from the 3.6-liter V6 would seem ample, with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet, but the five-speed autobox is a buzzkill. It’s slow to downshift, quick to upshift, and generally reminds me of what life was like 10 years ago when the JK launched.
- Even with the updates to the interior treatment and trim, this cabin feels underwhelming for the nearly $50,000 as-tested price. Yowch.
- Toyota 4Runner
|2016 JEEP WRANGLER UNLIMITED 4X4 75TH EDITION
|285 Horsepower / 260 Pound-Feet
|EPA FUEL ECONOMY
|16 City / 20 Highway / 18 Combined
|70.6 Cubic Feet
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Photos: Seyth Miersma / Motor1.com