Jeep Wrangler short but sweet

I was somewhat overjoyed recently when the latest Jeep Wrangler arrived for me to evaluate.

Truth be told, we have been waiting a very long time for an updated Wrangler to arrive and the wait was worth it as I was handed the keys to a short wheelbase Wrangler finished in Hellayella on Monday 23 March. Unfortunately, due to a nationwide lockdown, I got the call just a day later that the vehicle needed to be collected that Thursday. I had limited time so I grabbed the keys and headed out.

The looks

The Jeep Wrangler is considered an iconic vehicle and thus, the styling needs to remain recognizable. The refreshments on this new model have given the car a much needed modern look. These updates include new headlights, a refreshed front grille which retains the trademark 7 slats and an updated bumper with silver detailing around the fog lights. There is also a new bonnet complete with a bulge like design and two vents on either side and the front wheel arches and black bumper are separated by LED daytime running lights. The new Jeep Wrangler also gets a new wheel design and at the back, you will find the spare wheel mounted to the split opening rear tailgate. The updates to the Wrangler are subtle but they have enhanced the overall look and give the car a modern appeal.


This is where the updates shine through. The entire facia has been redesigned and it features a host of new elements. The standout is the new 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay compatibility. Below the screen, you will find the newly designed climate control module and below that, the two controls for the electric windows. The console that houses the gear levers for the automatic gearbox and the low-range transfer case has also been redesigned. The dials now feature a digital multi-colour element for the trip computer and the steering wheel has also been redesigned.

One of the standout features of the Jeep Wrangler is the ability to remove body panels such as the roof, doors and rear cover. A few clips, latches and a helping hand will result in a completely different driving experience. What’s even better is that once the rear cover is removed the standard roll cage is visible. As for interior space, well rear legroom is tight however manageable but boot space is enough for a few shopping bags or a few gym bags. Nevertheless, the Wrangler remains one of the coolest looking cars on the road.

The drive

A few years ago I took a Jeep Wrangler Sahara long wheelbase to Mozambique and that was fitted with a 2.8-litre diesel engine. I found it to be fairly economical on the long road and offered plenty of grunt. The Jeep which I’m writing about now featured the brands Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 petrol unit. Having experienced this before, many years ago, and finding it somewhat tasteless in terms of performance and fuel economy I wasn’t all too excited until I took this new offering for a drive.

The engine wasn’t the problem, it was the gearbox of the older car which I drove. This new model features an 8-speed automatic and it makes the world of difference. The car feels responsive, I even looked to see if it was not perhaps in Sport mode because it offers instant power at the slightest touch of the accelerator pedal. The sound that this 209 kW/ 347 N.m unit makes is also worth a mention. I did manage to take the Jeep off-road in a muddy quarry during my short time with it and as one would expect, I was left impressed.

I managed to navigate through an area that would typically require 4H however the Jeep didn’t show any signs of struggle, a slight dab of the throttle and a bit of counter-steering got me through the slippery and muddy pathway. If you do require everything that the Jeep has to offer, an old school lever is there to grab onto and engage 4H auto, 4H part-time and 4L.


I do like this Jeep, it offers a comfortable ride quality, it is extremely capable off-road and it looks good. Unfortunately when it was delivered it had a range of just over 400km and the tank was full. This was probably because it was averaging around 13l/100km. I managed to get it down to 11l/100km. Granted, it is a heavy vehicle powered by a big naturally aspirated V6. Despite its fuel consumption, I was really sad to give the keys back to this R864 000 machine.

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