Nostalgic, rugged, all-terrain fun for up to five is what draws car buyers to the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which is the larger Wrangler model. Last year, the Wrangler Unlimited was rumored to be nearing its demise because it would be unable to comply with future fuel economy and safety regulations. However, Fiat Chrysler has released a 2017 model, again similar to the regular Wrangler, but with four doors instead of two. The current Wrangler Unlimited continues to use body-on-frame construction and “live” axles, and comes with either a manual or automatic transmission.
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2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Overview
What's New for 2017
Little has changed for the latest Wrangler Unlimited, apart from new LED headlights and foglamps. They’re standard on Sahara and Rubicon models, and optional on the Sport and Sport S. A Cold Weather Group, available for Sport S and Rubicon models, includes 17-inch tires, an engine block heater, heated seats, remote start, and a Power Convenience Group.
Choosing Your Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Wrangler Unlimited buyers face quite a variety of choices, as reflected by four trim levels and a variety of additional option packages. All Unlimited models have four-wheel drive and contain a 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine that develops 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and you can opt for a five-speed automatic. Command-Trac part-time four-wheel drive is standard, except on the Rubicon, which gets Rock-Trac with a lower low-gear ratio. Fuel economy is estimated at 16 mpg in city driving and 21 mpg on the highway (20 mpg with automatic).
Standard exterior details include a range of 10 body colors, three of them new for 2017. Each Wrangler gets “classic” round headlights, a seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel flares, removable doors, exposed hinges, skid plates, a fold-down windshield, a Sunrider soft top with sunroof, and front/rear tow hooks. Removable half-doors are available. Wranglers offer a choice of several axle gear ratios to emphasize either economy or off-road capability. Trailer sway control is standard.
Specifications and equipment are similar to comparable versions of the regular two-door Wrangler. Four trim levels are offered:
Jeep has been offering several Limited Editions, including:
Rubicon Hard Rock:Features high-gloss black accents to the grille, wheels, and trim; front and rear winch-ready steel off-road bumpers with removable end caps; a power dome hood; red tow hooks; Mopar rock rails, taillamp guards; and heated black leather seating.
Willys Wheeler:Gets the Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential, 3.73 gearing, high-gloss black 17-inch aluminum wheels, BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain LT255/75R17 tires, rock rails, a Jeep Trail Rated Kit, and a Connectivity Group.
75th Anniversary Edition:Carries bronze-colored interior/exterior details.
Additional option groups include:
- Connectivity:Adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, tire-pressure monitoring display, Uconnect hands-free communication with voice command, and a vehicle information center.
- Dual Top Group:Includes a black or body-color three-piece hardtop and a premium black Sunrider soft top.
- Mopar Premium Chrome:Includes a chrome grille.
- Max Tow Package:Includes a Class II hitch receiver.
Regardless of trim level, the beauty of the Wrangler Unlimited is its gritty, nostalgic design, which makes it unique in today’s marketplace. If classic, all-terrain styling and peak all-terrain talents stimulate your enthusiasm, and you like getting down to the elements, the basic Unlimited Sport should provide everything you need.
2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Review
Jeep solved one of the primary complaints against its popular Wrangler a few years back when it introduced the four-door Unlimited. Riding on a wheelbase that's even longer than the original Unlimited, the addition of an extra pair of doors took Jeep's most iconic model from lifestyle vehicle to viable family mover.
Pricing and Equipment
The Wrangler line has never wanted for optional extras and special edition trims, and 2017 is no different. We won't be breaking down the differences between all seven special edition trims, because each is largely based on one the top three of four mainstay trim levels – at the bottom is the Wrangler Sport at $28,890 (including $995 destination charge), followed by the Sport S at $32,090, Sahara at $35,240, and the range-topping, off-road ready Rubicon at $38,440.
As with the two-door Wrangler, we expect the Sahara to be the most popular model. Standard equipment includes:
- Air conditioning
- A canvas soft top
- Automatic headlamps
- Body color grille and wheel arches
- SiriusXM satellite radio
- Cruise control
We know, that's not a lot to go on. It's worth adding a few optional goodies, like the $495 heated seats, the $695 Connectivity Package (Bluetooth streaming and a USB input), and the $2,185 Dual Top Group (adds a removable hard top to cut down on wind and road noise).
All Wranglers use a 3.6-liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. While owners can spend $1,400 on a ho-hum five-speed automatic, we recommend the purist's choice – an old-school six-speed manual with long throws and notchy gates.
While the Sport, Sport S, and Sahara build on each other with increasingly civilized levels of equipment, it's worth mentioning that the Rubicon is a different beast entirely. Fitted with upgraded axles, disconnectable sway bars, huge off-road tires, and the ability to conquer virtually any trail it's faced with, it's a far more enthusiast-oriented vehicle. That comes at the expense of its off-road manners, which are mostly nonexistent.
- The six-speed manual really is a delight to use.
- Power from the 3.6-liter V6 is adequate, although we wouldn't say no to more low-end torque to help the Wrangler scoot off the line.
- While every Wrangler is a capable off-roader from the factory, the Rubicon is truly in a class of its own. Whether we're talking on- or off-road performance, there are few vehicles that are so capable from the factory.
- That six-speed manual takes a lot of getting used to – expect to grind some gears while adjusting your timing to the long throws. The five-speed feels slow to upshift.
- The on-road ride is abhorrent – rough, loud, and uncivilized. Walking would be more comfortable.
- The soft, off-road suspension gives the Wrangler the agility of an aircraft carrier.
- Like all Wranglers, owners can hose the cabin down after a day in the mud.
- The seats are comfortable and supportive.
- You can remove the doors.
- Road noise is deafening.
- Wind noise is deafening unless you go for the optional hardtop, in which case it's just really loud.
- There are an extra pair of doors, but second-row legroom still isn't abundant.
- Cargo space is disappointing no matter how you slice it.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
How enjoyable the act of driving with no roof and no doors is. Really, even if you don't count yourself among the Jeep enthusiasts, yanking the doors off and folding the roof back on a sunny summer's day is guaranteed to generate a smile.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The Wrangler Unlimited has just 1.6 inches more than the 35.6 inches of second-row legroom in the standard Wrangler. While the addition of an extra door does wonders for accessibility, it's still not the comfiest seat for longer-legged adults.
The Bottom Line
The Wrangler Unlimited brings a dose of versatility to an extremely capable SUV, but it doesn't do anything to civilize it. Whether you think that's a good or bad thing will likely determine whether a Wrangler is right for you.
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