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Click here for detailed specs on the new Wrangler!
Most Automakers have one: An iconic model that historically, or currently embodies the spirit and essence of their brand. BMW has the 3-series, Porsche has the 911, and Jeep has the Wrangler. With so much symbolically riding on this single model, it was imperative for Jeep not to screw it up. Especially considering how much the introduction of the front-wheel-drive, unibody Compass cute-ute has irked the Jeep faithful.
But Jeep made it adamantly clear that the new Wrangler is no watered-down, sissified pretender. Whereas all the other current Jeep models have abandoned solid axles, the Wrangler still proudly rides on front and rear Dana axles, a Dana 30 front and Dana 35 rear. The Rubicon model sports Dana 44s front and rear, as well as any models with the towing package.
Incorporating a version of the system first showcased on the Dodge Ram Power Wagon, the Wrangler offers an electronic-disconnecting front stabilizer bar - Active Sway Bar System (ASBS) - delivering additional wheel travel for traversing the toughest trails. Thanks to this bit of techno-wizardry, the new 2007 Jeep Wrangler boasts a 652 Ramp Travel Index with the front stabilizer bar engaged and an 832 RTI with the front stabilizer bar disconnected - a 28 percent increase. Jeep claims an approach angle of 44.3 degrees and breakover angle of 25.4 degrees, along with a 40.4 degree departure angle.
For the (few) fans of the four-cylinder Wrangler, there is some bad news for 2007. The four-banger is discontinued, at least for now. Though many expected the venerable 4.0L inline-six to be replaced with the 3.7 SOHC 90-degree V-6 widely used in the Dakota and Liberty, the new Wrangler will have a version of the 60-degree, 3.8L pushrod V-6 out of the minivans. In the Jeep application, the engine produces 205 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, and 240 lbs./ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm, an increase of 15 horsepower and 5 lbs./ft., respectively.
New four-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes are standard on all the new Wrangler models. An off-road anti-lock-braking feature enables sustained wheel lockup for improved performance on plowable surfaces, including loose dirt, gravel, sand and mud.
The Rubicon model features a Rock-Trac NV241 two-speed transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range gear ratio, as well as electric front- and rear-axle lockers and 32-inch B.F. Goodrich Off-Road tires. The X and Sahara models feature the second-generation Command-Trac NV241, part-time, two-speed transfer case, with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. In addition, a Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential provides extra torque and grip during low-traction situations, such as driving over sand, gravel, snow or ice.
The new Wrangler features...
The new Wrangler features this handy lockable storage compartment behind the rear seat.
Although Jeep heavily emphasized the increased capabilities of the new Wrangler, they did not neglect upgrading the comfort and convenience features, traditionally a weak point for the Wrangler. A 2-inch longer wheelbase, 3.5-inch wider track, and 5.5-inches more overall width allowed for 4.6 inches more hip and 5.1 inches more shoulder room, as well as an additional inch in rear-seat leg room and 2 inches more cargo storage length behind the rear seat. Addressing what's long been a shortcoming of the Wrangler, the new model features a lockable underfloor storage area behind the rear seat.
Much to the chagrin of hard-core Jeepers, some electronic nannery has made its way onto the Wrangler, but may actually be of some benefit off-road. Standard on the new Wrangler is an Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which aids the driver in maintaining vehicle directional stability in severe driving maneuvers on any type of surface. Thankfully, the ESP features three modes - "full on," "full off" and "partial on." Also making it's debut on the Wrangler is Electronic Roll Mitigation: A system that observes and monitors the vehicle roll attitude and lateral force to estimate the potential for a rollover situation. If necessary, the engine torque is reduced and a short burst of full braking is applied to the appropriate wheel to help stabilize the vehicle attitude and reduce the vehicle's lateral force.
The new Wrangler's configurable...
The new Wrangler's configurable roof allows for a variety of open-air options.
Much to the delight of cheerleaders and sorority girls everywhere, ironically another strong constituency of Wrangler owners, an all-new, three-piece modular hard top system features three configurable panels - left- and right-front passenger panels and a rear panel - providing more options for open-air driving. Jeep claims removing the left- and right-front passenger panels is simple and can be accomplished quickly by one person.
Sure to delight back-country rockhounds and ditzy blondes alike are the availability of an optional full-screen navigation system and Sirius satellite radio. Also a Wrangler first, power windows and door locks are available. But fear not, they're still removable, and yes, you can still get optional half-doors.
So, does Jeep's new icon have the trail moxie to run with its predecessors? Jeep certainly thinks so. As soon as we get a chance to get behind the wheel of one, we'll let you know what we think. Look for the new Wrangler to roll into dealerships in Fall '06.