JEEP’S latest interpretation of its terrain-conquering Wrangler is without doubt an excellent blend of the rough and the smooth.

Boasting that it will go anywhere and do anything, the company’s off-road champion is just as happy cruising urban streets as it is mixing it with the very best on surfaces that would leave most cars a ruin of shattered suspension, tyres and bodywork.

But this prowess comes at a price: £44,495 for the entry-level two-door Sahara version, rising to £48,365 for the four-door range-topping Rubicon version. In the face of tough competition from Land Rover, a starting price under £40,000 would look to have made more sense.

I suspect that most sales will come from the tested Overland version, which sits between the other two grades and offers the perfect mix of being a big smoothie that is equally at home among the rough stuff.

It offers several features over the Sahara trim that, for less than £2,000, make it a much more attractive proposition. These include leather upholstery, a hardtop headliner, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, passive entry, several cosmetic features and a hard spare wheel cover at the back.

In fairness, even the Sahara comes loaded with features such as a full suite of audio and telematics linked to a seven-inch touchscreen, 18-inch wheels, premium LED headlamps and ambient LED interior lighting, various safety and security plus points such as a rear view camera and park assist system.

There’s no denying that you get a lot of bang for your bucks.

Essentially a hardcore off-roader, the Wrangler needed to appeal to more so-called lifestyle customers, and to this end Jeep has succeeded.

The result is the most capable Wrangler ever, courtesy of its new levels of comfort, refreshed styling that not only means it remains probably the most distinctive of any cars but now so much more modern and has new engines and interiors to match the outward display of confidence.

There’s a choice of two new engines , a 2.2-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel producing 197bhp and 2.0-litre turbo petrol. These are a significant improvement on the previous 3.6-litre V6 petrol and 2.8-litre diesel units, and the new engines are linked to eight-speed automatic transmission rather than the previous five-speed.

The new turbocharged diesel engine not only matches the previous bigger workhorse for power but also increases torque, while the new significantly smaller petrol engine may have slightly less power but has more torque.

Two four-wheel drive systems are available: Command-Trac, on the Sahara and Overland trim level, and Rock-Trac, standard on Rubicon trim. Both systems feature the new Selec-Trac full-time two-speed transfer case for a continuous monitoring and management of the torque sent to front and rear wheels.

The 4x4 system operates in two-wheel drive high range, full-time active on-demand high drive and part-time four-wheel drive high range.

For my test drive, Jeep executives chose a route that largely consisted of a landscape where virtually any other vehicle would fear to tread. Yet for all the formidable obstacles of rocky outcrops, sludge, water pools and rough surfaces, the Wrangler never once failed to impress or complete the task. In that respect it is a remarkable vehicle.

The Wrangler builds on an immediately recognisable design, from the round headlights to the superb seven-slot grille that is surely among the best in the business. And where else would you find a folding windscreen, removable doors and open-air configurations with hard top or soft top.

The only authentic full open-air 4x4 SUV available on the market, the Wrangler also comes in a very attractive range of ten exterior colours.

The interior combines styling, versatility and functionality, using high-quality materials. But more attention should have been paid to the driver’s footwell, which is too narrow to accommodate an outstretched left leg. I also found the glovebox to be difficult to open out with the passenger seat occupied.

On the plus side, there’s a off-road app on the touchscreen to let you know just how challenging your route is and how the vehicle is coping. Other features include climate control knobs linked to attractive vents surrounded by a platinum chrome bezel.

The instrument cluster features a seven-inch thin-film transistor information LED display. The display is full-colour and allows the driver to configure information in more than 100 ways.

Integrated buttons on the steering wheel control audio, voice and speed functions, allowing the driver to keep his or her hands on the wheel at all times. If you are taking the Wrangler into the sort of environs that it was built to cope with, then you might well appreciate that.


Jeep Wrangler Overland (two-door)

Price: £46,865

Engine: 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel producing 197bhp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 9.6 seconds; top speed 112mph

Economy: 29.7mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 202g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ***

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***