GEARHEAD

 

Smooth operator

The Jeep Wrangler with a new powertrain is sensationally comfortable and refined 

 

October 2019

American icons may stand out for their branding and symbolism but they are not usually the most refined example of their ilk. 

Take McDonalds and Coke for instance – hardly haute cuisine or a sophisticated refreshment but undeniably recognisable and so very popular. 

Jeep is another American icon, one which is especially famous for its ruggedness and unique history. 

Unlike other venerated brands though, it has undergone an amazing transformation. A bit like a Hollywood actor who has gone from fat to fit, except you can’t really see the six-pack. 

One classic Jeep model, the Wrangler, still looks as macho with its classic design cues like the signature seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches. 

But unlike previous iterations, the new Jeep Wrangler is no longer a bucking bronco but actually quite nice to drive. 

Powertrain

Its more refined, car-like useability is thanks to intensive consumer research undertaken by FCA or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which owns the Jeep brand. 

The most significant change is the drivetrain – a new and smaller 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission to drive all four wheels.  

If you thought Sade was a smooth operator, you haven’t tried the Wrangler. 

The engine is surprisingly muted and rather punchy, even though it is hauling two tonnes of metal. 

Despite being tall (1,838 mm) and wide (1,894 mm), the Wrangler is easy to drive, partly because of the good forward visibility and partly because of the light steering. This is because as a full-fledged offroader, the Wrangler’s steering requires more free play. 

Ride comfort is also more than acceptable with its 18-inch wheels and fat tyres. But floor the accelerator a little too enthusiastically in a corner and the tail will wiggle. 

The auto gearbox makes up for this occasional waywardness with its silkiness. With the gear lever slotted to one side, its eight ratios can be changed manually. There are no shift paddles behind the retro-looking steering wheel’s spokes, only the audio buttons. 

Drive 

The Wrangler is a full-fledged off-roader, so it can climb more than just the shopping centre’s carpark ramp. 

There are two versions with the same 2.0 turbo – the Wrangler Sahara and the Wrangler Rubicon. 

The Sahara has the Selec-Trac Full Time 4WD System, while the Rubicon gets the more hardcore Rock-Trac HD Full Time 4WD System with an electronic locking differential, and beefier transfer case and front axle. 

Not that the Sahara is slouch. The lever for the transfer case is beside the gear lever, and it can be used to select low and high range two- or four-wheel-drive high- and low-range settings: 2H, 4H Auto, 4H Part Time and 4L. 

Since the Jeep can easily clamber over boulders and traverse mud-filled gullies, kerbs and earth mounds in urban Singapore are no problem.  

 

Features

For body strength and rigidity, the Wrangler uses the same truck-like body-on-frame construction and can be stripped down by removing the hardtop and aluminium doors so that only its tubular steel sport bar remains. 

The windshield can also be lowered but with two major improvements – it is slightly more raked for better aerodynamics and the windshield frame now has a pair of rubber stops on the bonnet to rest on when it is lowered.

The cabin has even more tangible improvements. The smoothly sculpted dashboard looks and feels more premium with a glazed finish and soft-touch surface. New features include an engine start button, 7.0-inch TFT LED instrument cluster with digital speedo, other driver info and cheerful orange-coloured accents, and an 8.4-inch centre touchscreen with Uconnect – Jeep’s latest navigation, entertainment and communication system which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

 

Price

As expected, the modern Wrangler has the usual suite of safety features such as multi-stage airbags, ABS with rough road detection, EBD and electronic roll mitigation. Other user-friendly equipment include a blind spot monitor, reverse camera and rear cross path detection. 

The Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4Dr 2.0 Turbo is banded C2 under VES with a S$20,000 surcharge.

Priced at S$239,999, this Jeep may not be cheap but it is definitely a thrill for being the icon of refinement. 

 

Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4Dr 2.0 Turbo

Engine – 1,995 cc inline-4 turbocharged

Gearbox – 8-speed automatic transmission  

Max power – 268 hp @ 5,250 rpm

Max torque – 400 Nm @ 3,000 rpm

0-100 kmh – 7.3 secs

Top speed – 199 kmh 

VES band – C2 (+S$20,000)

Distributor – Chrysler Jeep Automotive of Singapore, tel 6479-3333

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