The Right Spec: 2021 Jeep Wrangler
We briefly thought about covering the new (and thirsty) Grand Wagoneer for this week’s entry into the Base Camp series, given the model’s excellent retro name and propensity to induce rose-colored myopia in adults who mis-remember the Malaise Era. However, we all know there’s only one way to order such a rig: fully loaded.
Which is why we’re focusing our efforts on the Wrangler. It serves as Jeep’s trademark since it is the image that pops into most people’s minds – even non-gearheads – when they hear the word ‘Jeep’. Plus, in most guises, it approaches something that can even be called affordable.
There are no fewer than fourteen different trims of Wrangler currently available to American shoppers – and that’s before you start adding the myriad of powertrains which range from turbocharged four-bangers to electrified plug-in hybrids. Your author maintains the OG 3.6L Pentastar V6 is the best choice, given that the company has produced millions of the things making for abundant future parts supply abundant and low maintenance costs.
This ignores the mighty 392 V8, of course, which is an absolute blast to drive and is guaranteed to plaster a rictus grin on the faces of driver and passenger alike. But at very nearly 80 grand, it’s tough to recommend it for The Right Spec. Given remarks made earlier, it’ll surprise no one that our Wrangler will be powered by the V6-engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.
Let’s take a closer look at the Willys Sport trim. Just the second rung on Wrangler’s ladder, it has a (two-door) sticker price of $30,900 and features several off-road goodies for which one had to pay dearly not too long ago. Chief amongst these items are the Rubicon shocks, 32-inch mud-terrain tires, and a limited-slip diff outback. Useful features, then, especially for those of us who enjoy picking our way over and through off-road obstacles.
Those same features lend a butch appearance to the Willys Sport, though every single paint shade save for Bright White costs an irritating $245. Might as well pop for Sarge Green to stay on brand. Retro-cool half doors are tempting but cost an outrageous $2,550, so we’ll leave that option unchecked. Better to spend $1,295 on the optional air conditioning, which we recommend. You won’t have the top and both doors off 24/7, after all.
The only choice left to make is whether or not to splash out $795 on the Trailer-Tow & HD Electrical group. It adds 4- and 7-pin trailer wiring harnesses plus a Class II hitch (remember, the Wrangler can only tow 3,500 lbs) and – critically for those of us planning to accessorize our Jeep – a quartet of auxiliary switches. These handy little things are wired right into the rig and can be programmed for either constant or momentary power once pressed. The former is good for light bars, for example, while the other is perfect for something you want to run for short periods of time, like a winch.
So equipped, we’ve managed to push our Willys Sport to $33,235 and built ourselves a capable off-road beast with a hint of Rubicon but without breaking the bank. What’s your take?
Please note the prices listed here are in American dollars and currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.
ToolGuy on Jun 24, 2021
Jeep Thoughts (I know you can't wait to hear): • My [halfway through college] daughter's Two Major Complaints regarding her upbringing: a) Never got a battery-operated ride-on vehicle [Barbie Jeep or otherwise] and b) Wouldn't (and still won't) let her get a Wrangler • When I am on a long interstate drive and Wranglers pass me with oversize tires going 80 mph, I feel sympathy due to 0) Tire noise 1) Poor isolation/short wheelbase 2) NVH 3) Fuel bills 4) Payments 5) Maintenance [esp. due to modifications] 6) [Un]Crashworthiness • If I ever have more land, I would like to get a dog - a fairly large dog (and not to be allowed in the house per my current spouse). If I had more land than that, I would maybe consider getting a Jeep as a fourth vehicle. But a CJ-7, not a Wrangler. (It would be fun to work on and bomb around in.)
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