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Jeep with Unlimited appeal? Image by Kyle Fortune.

Jeep with Unlimited appeal?
Jeep's all-American retro off-roader gets serious about challenging Land Rover.

   



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| A Week at the Wheel | Herts, England | Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2.8 CRD Sport |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

The Wrangler Unlimited is a functional vehicle, so it's difficult to be too critical of the interior plastics used throughout. The truth is they actually feel better than those in some of Chrysler's more mainstream products, and given the Wrangler's relatively low price are forgivable What's not so clever are the numerous sharp edges and the poorly thought-out speaker mount on the rear-roll bar. The sharp edges are mostly under the seats, but it surely wouldn't have cost Jeep too much to have put on some plastic caps? And that speaker mount is perfectly positioned to clout adult passengers on the head when using the rear seats...

It's comfortable enough up front though, the lofty driving position being excellent, although even it's not enough to allow you a proper view of the enormous front bumper. So parking it is often a bit fraught. Otherwise visibility is good, and although it's an odd thing to pick out for praise the window washer is excellent, misting the entire screen and meaning you're not left with streaks on the upright glass. Outside it's pure Wrangler, though the Unlimited tag denotes this as the new four-door version. Chunky looking, the Wrangler is a design icon that no longer feels as old as it looks.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

You've got to love it when Jeep reveals that this Wrangler is the first 'civilian' model to feature a diesel engine, perfectly underlining the Jeeps militaristic history. The engine in question is a 2.8-litre common-rail turbodiesel delivering 174bhp at 3,800rpm and 302lb.ft at 2,000-2,600rpm. It's mated to a six-speed manual that, considering the Jeep's rather rugged demeanour is actually quite quick and precise. Obviously, being a Jeep, there's some pretty serious four-wheel drive hardware underneath. So the Wrangler Unlimited comes with a low ratio transfer case, brake traction control and switchable ESP, along with Electronic Roll Mitigation.

It's best to leave that ESP turned on in the wet on the road, as in rear-wheel drive with all the engine's torque it's not unusual to find yourself having to add corrective lock to the steering on roundabouts and tight junction exits. In low ratio mode, the Jeep will get you just about anywhere, and with its huge fuel tank and 28.2mpg potential you really could head off into the wilderness for days and not worry about filling it up. That diesel is pretty refined too; at least it is when you compare it to its direct rivals.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

It's unlikely that you'll ever feel inclined to hustle the Jeep down a country road - unless it's an unmade one with axle-deep ruts - but that doesn't mean it's not a capable road car. The Wrangler's all-new 100% stiffer frame allows the suspension to work a lot better on the road, the body control pretty decent for a car that has to be able to offer massive axle articulation for off-road use. The steering is a bit slow and dim-witted, but it's no worse than anything else in the class. Indeed, Jeep considers the Land Rover as fair game, and if we were Land Rover we'd be very afraid, the Wrangler Unlimited a far better car on the road, and no less able off it than the venerable Defender.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

It's not just on the road that the Jeep shows up the Land Rover; it also embarrasses it on the price lists. The Unlimited (four-door) is several thousand pounds cheaper than the equivalent Defender. Equipment levels are pretty good too, the Wrangler coming with everything you could possibly need, only the Sport models doing without air conditioning. All get a decent stereo with an auxiliary socket, allowing you to plug in your MP3 player. But the real killer is that, although the Wrangler is a rugged Defender alternative with 3,500kg braked towing ability, when you're away from the farm you can take the entire roof off and enjoy the only four-door cabriolet currently on sale.

Overall: star star star star star

Jeep raises the bar against its Land Rover rival, the Unlimited 2.8 CRD being just as rugged and able, but a good deal better to drive and cheaper too. As a dependable workhorse it makes a great deal of sense, and is also actually quite enjoyable to drive.

Kyle Fortune - 17 Nov 2007



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2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited specifications: (2.8 CRD Sport manual)
Price: £19,995 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 11.7 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Combined economy: 28.2mpg
Emissions: 286g/km
Kerb weight: 1955kg

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.



2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 






 

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