The Truth About Cars » jeep wrangler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:18:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » jeep wrangler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Cain’s Segments: Affordable Off-Roaders http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/cains-segments-affordable-off-roaders/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/cains-segments-affordable-off-roaders/#comments Mon, 09 Dec 2013 18:01:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=676098 TTAC_Wrangler-chart

The general belief that no genuine Jeep Wrangler alternative sells in anything like the kinds of numbers achieved by the Wrangler is a belief that is completely, wholeheartedly supported by the facts.

Let’s be honest. The Wrangler’s popularity, in particular the Wrangler Unlimited’s fruitful endeavor into the mainstream auto buying consciousness, couldn’t happen without one of two occurrences: either offroading is exploding in popularity as a leisure activity, or some buyers who would otherwise choose a Ford Escape (and its kind) are buying a Jeep Wrangler.

Regardless of the circumstances which are leading buyers to the Wrangler, there are more such buyers than ever before, and it’s not as though there are a wide array of Wrangler-like alternatives in the U.S. market. Pickup trucks aside, the Toyota FJ Cruiser and Nissan Xterra stand out as the other two affordable offroaders, the ones which could reasonably be modified to become ultra-capable offroaders.

Does that status matter to the majority of buyers? Not only does it matter to those who wish to travel far off the beaten path, it also matters to buyers who will never even contemplate leaving the pavement. The fact that they’ll be driving something that could do so if need be – rather than just looking like it might be able to – is a huge part of the Wrangler’s appeal; the FJ’s and Xterra’s, too.

But the FJ Cruiser is on its last legs. Meanwhile, plans to spend a vast amount of money on redesigning and relaunching the Xterra are sketchy as, after all, the Xterra sells barely more often than the Titan.

Don’t be confused by the year-over-year change. Yes, Xterra sales are rising in 2013, but an increase of 2% for such a low-volume vehicle translates to just 335 extra sales through eleven months. Moreover, the overall new vehicle market, especially the SUV/crossover market, is growing at a much faster clip than the aging Xterra. Of greater relevance is the fact that this current YOY growth comes after one of the Xterra’s worst ever years in terms of U.S. volume. 17,222 were sold in all of 2012, a 5% drop compared with 2011, and a 78% drop compared with the 79,779 Xterras which were sold in 2002.

One might also ask why the FJ needs to be cancelled if the its year-over-year decline is so slight, but that question, too, would only be asked by one who hasn’t studied the FJ’s U.S. history. Sales peaked at 56,225 in the model’s first year, fell as low as 11,941 units in 2009, and then averaged just 14,000 sales per year since 2010. It’s been allowed to languish without significant updates even as consumers who may once have been enamoured by its style became more aware of its poor visibility and excessive base price.

Granted, the compromises a buyer must accept to tolerate life with the Jeep are numerous, yet they don’t seem to be significant enough to keep away a record number of buyers. The Wrangler’s success leads us to believe that others could also succeed, that there is some untapped potential. On the other hand, the decreasing number of FJ and Xterra sales causes us to wonder if Jeep, with all the Wrangler’s history and its cheap toplessness and its steady improvement, should simply be the sole purveyor of affordable offroaders.

So unique is the Wrangler and so wide is its product range that even the Xterra and FJ Cruiser hardly seem like Wrangler rivals. They’re certainly not sales volume rivals. Being the one and only hasn’t always turned out well for automakers. Consider the Renault Avantime, Subaru Baja, and Lincoln Blackwood. In the Wrangler’s case, its climb to its current status as one of America’s 30 best-selling vehicles is proof that the Wrangler is, well, it’s not a Renault Avantime.

Auto
Nov. 2013
Nov. 2012
%
Change
11 mos. 2013
11 mos. 2012
%
Change
Jeep Wrangler
11,753 10,337 + 13.7% 143,474 130,124 + 10.3%
Nissan Xterra
1445 1343 + 7.6% 16,178 15,843 + 2.1%
Toyota FJ Cruiser
1150 1164 - 1.2% 11,826 12,145 - 2.6%
Total
14,348
12,844 + 11.7% 171,478 158,112 + 8.5%
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Will The Next Generation Jeep Wrangler Lose Its Solid Axles? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/will-the-next-generation-jeep-wrangler-lose-its-solid-axles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/will-the-next-generation-jeep-wrangler-lose-its-solid-axles/#comments Wed, 30 Oct 2013 10:09:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=637377 10_j_w2d_cap_off_prm_lb

With stricter fuel economy standards pushing automakers to reduce vehicle weight, it’s been suggested that the next generation Jeep Wrangler, due in 2016, might come with independent suspension. Solid axles weigh more than independent suspension and the Wrangler has solid axles in both the rear and front of the vehicle. Jeep brand manager Mike Manley hasn’t denied that the next Wrangler may lose the rugged axles that off-roaders love.

Not only would traditional CJ/Wrangler owners look askance at independent suspension, aftermarket suppliers would not be happy. The Wrangler’s simple live axle suspended by coil springs makes it the most popular SUV that people customize, according to SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association. SUVs with more complex independent suspensions are less likely to be altered.

Chrysler has to be careful to avoid upsetting the current Wrangler’s customer base. For the first nine months of this year, Wrangler sales are up 11% to just under 120,000 units. Strong Wrangler sales helped Jeep set a brand sales record last year. Manley knows how important the Wrangler is to the Jeep franchise. “Massive. Absolutely massive,” Manley said to Automotive News. “Frankly, I know that if I screw up the next Wrangler, then I probably wouldn’t be able to leave my house for a long time.”

He wouldn’t promise, though, that the Wrangler will retain its sturdy solid axles. “We’re already in an environment where it’s a challenge to produce a vehicle in that way, and it’s going to get harder,” he said. “What I can tell you is that the vehicle is absolutely fundamental to our DNA, and it’s going to become progressively harder to make sure that the vehicle meets all of the standards that are required for it.”

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Chrysler Changes Product Plans Again, Extends “Sell-By Date” Of Avenger, Caravan, Wrangler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/chrysler-changes-product-plans-again-extends-sell-by-date-of-avenger-caravan-wrangler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/chrysler-changes-product-plans-again-extends-sell-by-date-of-avenger-caravan-wrangler/#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 12:46:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=496995 Jeep_Wrangler_X_--_10-06-2010

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne may not be fond of changing up his outfits, but he certainly has no problem mixing up product plans. The latest news out of Auburn Hills suggests that Chrysler will be extending the lifespan of some key products for up to another 5 years.

Under the new regime, the Dodge Avenger, one of Chrysler’s main fleet queens and the key cannibalizer of Dart sales, gets a stay of execution until 2015. The Dodge Grand Caravan will run until 2017, an extension of two years past its planned replacement date, while the Jeep Wrangler, which is said to be undergoing a radical redesign, will stay on the market in its current form until 2018.

Chrysler has good reasons to keep all three vehicles going. The Avenger’s platform-twin, the Chrysler 200, will be replaced next year in a major redesign, and by keeping the Avenger around, Chrysler will have a cheap sedan to sell to fleets (and presumably, less-than-qualified buyers).

The Grand Caravan can also fill that role in minivan form, while a redesigned Chrysler Town & Country will apparently be introduced to consolidate Chrysler’s minivan position. But the popularity of the Grand Caravan among fleet buyers and in the Canadian market has been said to give Chrysler pause about killing it off entirely. For some time, plans have called for one brand to get a minivan and one brand to get two crossovers. Automotive News seems to think that Chrysler will get the van and presumably Dodge will have a redesigned Journey – and a Grand Caravan too.

The decision to keep the Wrangler kicking around is seemingly more transparent. By extending its lifespan another two years, Jeep can get more capacity at its Toledo, Ohio plant, which is said to be running flat-out. In addition to a whole bunch of brand new features like aluminum body panels and an air suspension, the Wrangler will apparently get a diesel engine and a pickup variant. Right now, Jeep is selling Wranglers, particularly the 4-door Unlimited model, as fast as they can, with special edition variants not lasting long on dealer lots. Presumably, Chrysler will keep pumping them out for another few years to keep Jeep buyers satiated.

 

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Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: Chrysler Job Ads Point To Next Wrangler Details http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-chrysler-job-ads-point-to-next-wrangler-details/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-chrysler-job-ads-point-to-next-wrangler-details/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 20:53:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=489543 2008_Wrangler_JK_Unlimited_Sahara

Is the next Jeep Wrangler getting a diesel? What about an air suspension? It’s looking that way, at least according to Automotive News.

Larry Vellequette, who covers Chrysler for the publication, looked at a number of job ads and theorized that based on the skills required and the upcoming product timeline, they are related to work on the next generation Jeep Wrangler.

 

Vellequette seems to think that the Wrangler, like the Ram, will get a big weight reduction thanks to high strength steel in its frame. A diesel engine, an air suspension and an 8-speed automatic transmission also seem to be in the cards.

Some of the Wrangler’s idiosyncratic trademarks are also being examined too

Engineers also will look at the Wrangler’s unique closure systems — the clip-down hood, for example, or its somewhat-inviting-to-thieves exterior door hinges.

What’s not clear is whether the next Wrangler might include a permanently fixed wind screen. Only a small percentage of Wrangler owners ever go through the trouble of dropping their wind screen, but eliminating the ability to do so would allow engineers to increase its rake and with it, the Wrangler’s fuel economy.

Vellequette notes that Jeep engineers have an unenviable task; balancing the need to maintain the Wrangler’s signature design cues and off-road capabilities with the realities of CAFE. In many ways it is Chrysler’s most important product launch, both from a marketing standpoint and from a sales one too (try finding a Wrangler Unlimited on a dealer lot – it’s not easy).

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Wrangler Demand Spurs 200 New Jobs At Toledo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/wrangler-demand-spurs-200-new-jobs-at-toledo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/wrangler-demand-spurs-200-new-jobs-at-toledo/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2013 18:15:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=481384

Hot sales of Jeep’s venerable Wrangler have led to Chrysler adding 200 new jobs at their Toledo, Ohio factory.

130 of the 200 workers will be assigned to relieve assembly line workers. The plant currently operates at two shifts, but cannot expand to a third shift due to capacity constraints. Nevertheless, Toledo produced over 200,000 Wranglers last year, a record for the plant. With a low base price and a true low-range transfer case, the Wrangler has a niche all to itself, and it’s unlikely that any manufacturer will challenge it with a competing vehicle any time soon. As long as that’s the case, its place in the auto market looks fairly secure.

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Review: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2012-jeep-wrangler-rubicon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/review-2012-jeep-wrangler-rubicon/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2012 15:53:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=429357

I love progress, I love technology, and I don’t have an aversion to comfort. With that in mind, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and I seem like an unlikely pairing. Jeep promises however that they have made the most civilized Wrangler ever without sacrificing off-road performance. While Wrangler shoppers with kids and a commute may be inclined to opt for the four-door Jeeplet, the 2-door variety has a large California following from the hip urban set to “rural-suburbanites” like myself, especially since GM killed off Hummer.

While the Wrangler has its roots in the Willys CJ, the Wrangler as we know it started in 1987 when AMC decided the off-roader needed some on-road creature comforts to boost sales. Back in 2007 Jeep ruffled more feathers by stretching the Wrangler’s wheelbase and track several inches to improve road manners. Despite 25 years of continual improvements to make the Wrangler more suited to the commuter shopper, thankfully little has been done to alter the look of the go-anywhere brand. Much like Porsche’s dedication to the 911’s classic styling, Jeep has resisted styling the Wrangler into a mainstream SUV. From the flat black fenders, rubber hood straps, to the removable doors and roof, the Wrangler seems to have lost little of its off road charm over the years.

Because of the off-road ready height, jumping into the Jeep isn’t a euphemism. Once inside the tall cabin, it’s obvious the Wrangler’s new interior was designed with daily driving comforts in mind. While some portions of the interior may well be waterproof and you can still remove the carpet to access drain plugs, I’d keep the garden hose away from the dashboard and seats. The off-road faithful will be glad to hear that the dash plastics, while more visually appealing are still hard and easy to wipe down. The rest of us will just be glad to know that Chrysler finally decided to add some sound insulation to the cabin. Our Rubicon model came equipped with a few luxury features never before seen on a Wrangler, including heated front seats, heated side view mirrors and steering wheel audio controls.

While the serious off-roader will likely scoff at butt-warmers as further evidence that the Wrangler is getting soft in its old age, an end to “Wrangler minimalism” brings beneficial changes to the commuter and weekend off-roader with stability control, tire pressure monitoring (when I’m rock climbing I’d like to know if my tire is flat) electronically locking differentials and sway bars that can be disconnected at the touch of a button. While “electronic sway bar disconnect” may sound like a superfluous option, it helps the new Wrangler maintain serious suspension travel for rock crawling without the safety issues of permanently removing the sway bars as some Wrangler owners have in the past. Despite these improvements, the rear seat remains an afterthought with difficult access and little room.

Wrangler shoppers have never had so many options to choose from, including 6 different trim-lines, multiple axle choices, two transfer cases, two different door styles (glass or plastic window), a variety of radio and navigation options and of course a manual transmission is still available. Our tester was the Rubicon model which is perhaps paradoxically the most luxurious model and the most “hard core off-road” model sporting a 4:1 low range transfer case and large 32-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires.

Regardless of which Wrangler you choose, all Wrangler models share the same engine: the new 3.6L “Pentastar” V6 which replaces last year’s ancient push-rod 3.8L V6. The new mill uses an aluminum block and dual variable valve timing to crank out a best-ever 285HP and 260lb-ft of torque, an improvement of 83HP and 23lb-ft versus the outgoing engine, while improving highway mileage by 2MPG. Chrysler didn’t just pluck the engine out of the Caravan and drop it into the Wrangler, as they tweaked the exhaust, added a variable speed electric fan for better cooling, relocated the alternator high up on the block and pointed it rearward to keep it dry and installed an intake snorkel (you can see it on the left in the picture above) to improve the Wrangler’s water fording ability. While the new V6 is considerably quieter and more refined than the 3.8L, it lacks the iconic sound the old AMC inline-6 delivered. While I’m still wondering why Jeep didn’t pull a ZF 6-speed off the shelf, the Mercedes W5A580 5-speed automatic is much better suited to the Wrangler than the Grand Cherokee, delivering fairly quick shifts and a willingness to hold lower gears when called upon. Also available is a 6-speed manual for those that prefer to row your own. Forum fan-boys are complaining that the old skid plates are incompatible due to the new engine’s exhaust routing, so bear that in mind before trying to reuse your old accessories.

I’ll leave comparisons of the off-road abilities to the rock crawler rags, but I will say that a brief trip to Hollister Hills SVRA with the Wrangler and the Toyota FJ proved the benefit of a short wheelbase, wide track and steep approach and departure angles. If road manners matter in your next SUV, look somewhere else. On the highway, its obvious that Jeep’s passion remains off the beaten path; the Wrangler is still a pig with plenty of body roll, vague recirculating ball steering, mushy pedals, and a really twitchy rear end on the skidpad. The poor on-road performance has as much to do with the seriously heavy-duty Dana 44 solid front and rear axles as the 10.3 inches of ground clearance, mud tires and 3,800lb curb weight.

Instead of 2012 bringing the slick new large-screen uConnect systems from the Chrysler 300 or Jeep’s own Grand Cherokee, Wrangler buyers have to make do with Chrysler’s last generation radios and nav systems. The “Media center 130″ is the standard unit with MP3 playback from a data CD or USB stick, an aux input jack and six speakers. Sahara and higher models get a 7-speaker setup with a subwoofer by Infinity and steering wheel audio controls, but strangely, Bluetooth phone integration and iPod connectivity are optional on all models. Sahara and Rubicon models can optionally choose between the $1,035 Garmin based navigation system, or the $1,845 Harmon based navigation system which includes some more sophisticated GPS equipment and allows voice command of the navigation system. Both navigation systems offer XM radio and XM traffic (1 year subscription included), Bluetooth phone interface and iPod integration. Before commuter-types scoff at the price of the nav systems, you should know that this generation uConnect doesn’t exactly love the iPhone 4 and browsing your iPod playlists on the base radio is a real drag. Step up to the basic nav or just go aftermarket.

Despite complaints of high sticker prices, a base $29,995 Wrangler Rubicon is firmly “average” in the new car market according to last year’s sales data. Take solace in the fact that the Wrangler only increased $225 for the Sahara and $175 for the Rubicon vs last year’s model. Our Wrangler was equipped with $2,930 in options including: the $735 hard top, $385 Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, $685 for power windows, locks and mirrors and $1,125 for the automatic transmission.

Toss in the steep $800 destination charge and our Wrangler topped out at $33,725 or about $1,500 less than a similarly configured Toyota FJ cruiser. While I was temped to draw FJ comparisons, the Wrangler is more powerful, smaller, considerably lighter, and is available with a locking front axle for the serious off-roader. In the end, the Wrangler continues to be a unique vehicle in a class all to its own. Despite some serious on-road shortcomings, with the 2012 improvements, the Wrangler has achieved a decent balance of being a passable commute car for the weekend trail warrior.

Jeep provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

statistics as tested

0-30 MPH: 2.63 Seconds

0-60 MPH: 7.27 Seconds

1/4 mile: 15.67 Seconds at 86.9 MPH

Observed Fuel Economy: 18.3 MPG over 629 miles

2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, Rubicon, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, trail rated badge, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, trail rated badge, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, hard top removed, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, hard top removed, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, hard top removed, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, storage, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, storage, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, rear seats folded, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, cargo area, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, subwoofer, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, front seats, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, steering wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, 4WD and gear selector, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, front door, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, axle lock and sway bar controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, gauge cluster, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Interior, gauge cluster, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, Jeep logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, Jeep logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Exterior, Jeep logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, 3.6L "Pentastar" V6 engine, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, 3.6L "Pentastar" engine, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Intake "snorkel", Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes wranglerthumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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