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Vehicle Reviews

2011 Jeep Wrangler

The standard for trail vehicles. edited by New Car Test Drive

Introduction

2011 Jeep Wrangler

2011 Jeep Wrangler

Few vehicles are better off the pavement than a Jeep Wrangler. This is the one credited with starting it all. Traceable to the original Jeep, the Wrangler is the very symbol of off-road capability.

The Wrangler comes in the familiar two-door version and a four-door model called Unlimited. The four-door Wrangler Unlimited doesn't completely change the character of the Wrangler but makes it more practical for many. It's more comfortable and convenient, offering more cargo and rear-seat passenger space and a higher tow rating. Still, the traditional two-door Wrangler has its charms and virtues. It is the classic. We enjoy all of them. Jeep Wranglers can take you places you've never been before.

The 2011 Wrangler has moderate changes, including a revised interior. The three-piece hard top has larger windows and is offered in body-matching paint on 2011 Wrangler Sahara models. New features have been added to the option list for 2011, including heated leather seats, power heated mirrors and Bluetooth streaming audio.

2011 Jeep Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited are offered in Sport, Sahara and Rubicon trim. All Wranglers have a 3.8-liter V6 engine, which develops 202 horsepower and 237 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 15/19 mpg City/Highway for all models and both transmissions.

Four-wheel drive is standard, along with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic stability control. A 6-speed manual comes standard, a 4-speed automatic transmission is optional. The 6-speed manual fits the Wrangler's personality, but the automatic is more convenient.

A soft top comes standard, which offers the option of top-down motoring, and half-doors are available. A hardtop is available, also, offering greater security.

Despite the added features and upgraded interior, the 2011 Wrangler is not really an alternative to a car. It isn't comfortable by car standards. Fuel economy would merit a gas guzzler tax, and it isn't cheap. By 4WD standards it is considered the standard, however, especially in Rubicon trim. So if your recreation takes you off the beaten path, the Wrangler presents a compelling argument.

Vehicles that can match the Wrangler's off-highway performance cost many times more (Land Rover's LR4 and Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz's G550) or can be used only in more open areas where size is not a consideration (Ram Power Wagon, Ford SVT Raptor pickups). If you want decent off-highway four-door performance with more comfort and don't need the Jeep's extreme gearing, Nissan's Xterra might be your solution.

Model Lineup

2011 Jeep Wrangler

2011 Jeep Wrangler

The 2011 Jeep Wrangler Sport ($22,045) and Wrangler Sport Unlimited ($25,545) come with the Sunrider soft top, cloth upholstery, center console, theft deterrent system, folding rear seat, locking glove box, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, tilt steering wheel, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, sliding sun visors with mirrors, transfer case and fuel tank skid plates, and P225/75R16 all-terrain tires on steel wheels.

A 6-speed manual is standard, a 4-speed automatic transmission is optional ($825) on all Wrangler models. A three-piece modular hard top called the Freedom Top ($735) is available for all Wrangler models. Half-metal doors with locks for the soft top are a no-cost option on the Sport. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)

Wrangler Sport S ($24,245) and Sport S Unlimited ($27,745) add power windows, locks and heated mirrors, and remote keyless entry, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and aluminum wheels.

Wrangler Sahara ($27,245) and Sahara Unlimited ($29,945) add body-color flares, 18-inch alloy wheels, monotube shocks, 115-VAC outlet, air conditioning, Sirius satellite radio, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, Infinity stereo, and tube side steps. The Soft Top is standard. A hard top in black or body color ($980) is optional along with the Freedom Top ($735) or the Dual Top Group ($1,625) with both the Freedom Top and the Soft Top.

Sahara options include automatic climate control ($155), two-tone leather heated front seats ($700), and a navigation system ($1,845) that includes 6.5-inch touch screen, GPS navigation, Sirius Traffic and CD/DVD audio. Also: a limited-slip rear differential ($295), a 3.73:1 axle ratio ($50) to replace the standard 3.21, an engine block heater, remote start, Premium appearance (silver trim inside and out), and the trailer tow package.

Wrangler Rubicon ($29,245) and Rubicon Unlimited ($32,745) is the model for serious off-roading. A combination of Sport and Sahara-grade pieces, it also gets an electric-disconnecting front antisway bar, the Rock-Trac heavy-duty transfer case, a heavy-duty front axle, locking front and rear differentials, a 4.10:1 axle ratio, rock rails, LT255/75R17 BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tires on alloy wheels and other equipment intended for the serious off-roader. The Rubicon offers options similar to other models.

Safety features that come standard include dual front airbags, tire-pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation. Seat-mounted front side airbags for torso protection are optional ($490).

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