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  • William Maley
    William Maley
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    Review: 2015 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler

      Taking the iconic off-roader on road

    The quintessential off-road vehicle in the United States is the Jeep Wrangler. From its humble beginning as vehicle to go anywhere in the heat of World War II to a well-loved off-roader by many when it entered the civilian market, the Wrangler has earned the honor of being an icon . But many Wranglers it seems are mostly on the road, not tackling some trail. Is the Wrangler built for this kind of duty or is it just a fish out of the water? I spent some time in the 2015 Wrangler Willys Wheeler to figure this out.


    The Jeep Wrangler may be the most recognizable vehicle around the world. The reason for this is simple, the basic shape of the Wrangler hasn’t changed much since it was called into duty for World War II. The seven-slot grille, rounded headlights, foldable windshield, and removable doors are all here. But that doesn’t mean Jeep’s designers made to some changes to keep the Wranger fresh. The front end is jutted out slightly at an angle, and the body has some slight curves. Also keeping the Wrangler fresh is the introduction of special edition models. The Willys Wheeler is an example of this with a number of decals to make a call back to the original model, along with a set of 17-inch off-road wheels wrapped in meaty off-road tires.


    My Wrangler featured the optional hardtop which provided excellent protection from the elements and adds a nice layer of security. Sadly, I didn’t get chance to take the top off during my week as it was cold and rainy during my weeklong test. But from looking at the top and doing some reading, taking it off is somewhat easy thanks to the top coming off in three parts. This also means I cannot comment on how easy or hard it is to put on the soft top which came with my tester.


    2015 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler 11

    The Wrangler hasn’t been known as being a comfortable off-roader. But within the past few years, Jeep has been addressing that. Seats in my tester came wrapped in cloth and provided good support and comfort. In my ask me anything about the Wrangler, I said that the back seat isn’t really usable for adults since there isn’t any legroom. I would like to take that back. The backseat is actually quite comfortable for an adult as there is a lot of headroom and a decent amount of legroom once you move the seats up front. But getting into the back is quite a challenge as the front seat doesn’t quite move far enough to allow an adult to comfortably get back in. Now the Wrangler does have a rear-view problem with rear seats up as it blocks a good amount of the view. I found removing the headrests or folding the seat down helped alleviate the problem a bit.


    At one time, you could say the Jeep Wrangler came with only the bare necessities. But in the past few years, Jeep has been adding some ‘luxury’ items to make the Wrangler more appealing to a wider audience. Such items include a great sounding Alpine audio system, Bluetooth, USB and aux inputs, and a trip computer. However don’t expect to find any soft-touch materials on the dash or certain parts of the door panels. The Wrangler is lined with durable plastics which will stand the punishment of off-road driving and be very easy to clean after a day on the trail.


    Powertrain and Ride Impressions On Page 2


    A big complaint of previous Wranglers was the powertrain as it was lethargic. Luckily, Jeep addressed a few years back when they introduced the 3.6L Pentastar V6 to the Wrangler. This happens to be the same engine found under the hood my tester with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This can be paired with a six-speed manual or my tester’s five-speed automatic. The 3.6L gives the Wrangler a much needed boost in power as it's able to get moving in a flash. Passing and merging which was a terrifying experience in previous Wranglers, was no problem for this current model. The five-speed automatic was quick and smooth. The only item I wished for was an extra cog to improve fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2015 Wrangler with the automatic at 17 City/21 Highway/18 Combined. My average for the week landed at 16 MPG.


    2015 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler 9

    The Willys Wheeler has a number of off-road tweaks and goodies to make it a standout for the price. Such items include the off-road tires and wheels; a Trac-Lok rear differential, 3.73 axles for the front and rear (which also plays a part in the low fuel economy I got for the week), and set of rock rails. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do any real off-roading with the Wrangler as the nearest place where I could take it was closed to vehicles at the time of this review. I hope to do some off-roading in the Wrangler in the future.


    With all of those off-road goodies and tall ride height, it makes the Wrangler quite a handful when driving around on payment. The short wheelbase makes it clear of a road’s imperfections. Bumps, potholes, and uneven surfaces are transmitted quite clear to the passengers.The long travel suspension does isolate some of the imperfections, but be prepared for a bumpy ride. The steering I also found to be slow. Making a turn, I could tell that it take a few moments for the steering to catch up with the inputs I made. Add in the amount of road noise when driving on the freeway and it becomes abundantly clear that the Wrangler isn’t built for the urban jungle.


    Jeep has made a number of changes to make the Wrangler a bit more habitable for daily use. But after spending a week, I can tell that it rather spend its time in the wild than the urban environment. From its choppy ride to all of those off-road goodies, the Wrangler just feels like a fish out of water. If you’re planning to get a Wrangler just for the looks, either pass on that idea or be comfortable with the idea that you’re driving a vehicle with a large amount of compromises.


    Disclaimer: Jeep provided the Wrangler, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas



    Year: 2015
    Make: Jeep
    Model: Wrangler
    Trim: Sport 4X4
    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
    Driveline: Five-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 285 @ 6,400
    Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/21/18
    Curb Weight: 3,785 lbs*
    Location of Manufacture: Toledo, Ohio
    Base Price: $22,695
    As Tested Price: $34,425 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)


    *Curb Weight is for a Wrangler Sport with the Automatic.


    Willys Edition 24W - $6,100
    Power Convenience Group - $1,495
    5-Speed Automatic - $1,350
    Freedom Top Black 3-Piece Hardtop - $995
    Alpine 9-Speaker Audio System with All Weather Subwoofer - $795

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    Nice Review, I wonder if they will ever do an AWD with 4 low option on it for those that want a more versatile version.

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    just bought a 2014 wrangler unlimited about a month ago. i couldnt be happier with it. ive got the 6sp man, im getting about 19-20 combined. the ride is excellent for what it is from my perspective, but that is most likely due to the longer wheelbase. steering seems on point and has a good feel to me, but that also could be because im comparing that to my 04 colorado's handling habits. The vehicle is most definitely a lifestyle vehicle, no arguments there. mine is equipped with the optional half doors, which was something i specifically looked for. There is a certain mindset you have to have to be an owner for sure. for instance, at the moment i am tracking down a leak on the passenger side. i guess its one of those jeep things... but i love the outdoors and am an avid hiker and camper. its all i was looking for in a vehicle, and cheaper than the new colorado i was considering. resale value is also excellent, as those who are in search of one can attest. great write up! the next addition i am saving for mine is that hard top though for security as you mentioned. as it stands only a zipper and velcro are keeping people out. JEEP, Just Empty Every Pocket.

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