This year the Jeep brand is celebrating 75 years of legendary off-road capability, outdoor adventures and open-air freedom, all of which are best expressed by its iconic Jeep Wrangler.
The name Wrangler means a cowboy in charge of saddle horses, reminding immediately the huge outdoors of the American Far West and the sense of freedom that this inspires.
In the Jeep language, Wrangler is actually a “fun and freedom machine,” which reflects through its character the lifestyle of its customers, oriented towards original and distinctive cars with a strong personality. When someone owns a Wrangler, everyone knows that he is ready to explore and follow the adventurous spirit, that he is ready to have fun with his car and, above all, he is not at all afraid to drive into the mud. Wrangler best expresses the customers’ endless possibilities of customization, being the most customized Jeep vehicle worldwide.
The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited line-up is offered with a choice of three configurations: Sport, Sahara and Rubicon. The powertrain range includes a diesel and a petrol engine: the 2.8-liter common rail turbo-diesel delivering 200 horsepower of power and 460 Newton-meters of torque and the powerful 3.6-liter V-6 petrol engine with 284 hp and 347 Nm, both paired to the five-speed automatic transmission.
Engineered to master the most challenging off-road tracks, today Jeep Wrangler is the result of 75 years of leadership in the development of 4×4 systems. Two are the 4×4 systems available on the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: Command-Trac part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio and Rock-Trac equipped only on the Rubicon; a two-speed transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range gear ratio, Tru-Lock electric front- and rear-axle lockers; and an electronic sway bar disconnect that delivers additional wheel travel for traversing the toughest trails.
Wrangler’s body on frame structure and suspension geometry, a multi-link front and rear suspension with trailing arms, guarantee exceptional off-road performance, in addition to aggressive approach/ departure /break over angles and outstanding water fording capability and ground clearance. Wrangler’s prowess is certified with a Trail Rated Jeep badge, verifying that the vehicle is able to perform in a variety of challenging off road conditions identified by five performance categories: traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and water fording.
Descendant of the willys
The current Wrangler is actually a direct descendant of the original Willys-Overland (1941), and combines off-road capabilities with the fun of the first and only 4×4 open air sport utility vehicle in the marketplace. It offers the Sunrider soft top, foldable and removable, the Freedom Top, a three-piece modular hardtop, and a Dual Top configuration (the latter including both the soft- and hard-top options). Freedom Top features three panels – left and right front-passenger panels and a rear panel – providing the real outdoor driving experience offered by a convertible car. For more a premium appearance, the Sahara models boast an available body-color hardtop. The Rubicon trim level features also a foldable windshield, for a true open air experience.
The Wrangler expresses the most authentic Jeep values and though evolving in terms of off-road driving and functionality, it maintained its unmistakable timeless design. Since its first introduction, Jeep Wrangler has always been keeping its philosophy and style, with the classic round headlamps, seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel flares, exposed hinges, fold-down windshield, removable doors and sport bar, hallmarks of the current Wrangler model.
In terms of heritage, Wrangler is universally considered the icon of the Jeep brand, because through its predecessor, the 1941 Willys-Overland, it kicked off the Jeep legend and provided inspiration to what came afterwards, not only in terms of brand’s heritage, but also in the history of the automotive industry. The Willys-Overland MB is considered the authentic forerunner of the Jeep legend. Willys trademarked the name after the war and turned the MB model into an off-road civilian utility vehicle called CJ-2A (where CJ stays for Civilian Jeep). The CJ model was mass produced in 1945 and was also called “Agri-Jeep,” nodding to its original usage in farmhouses in North America as utility vehicle and “working” tool. The CJ series were produced for 30 years and through the different models that were launched in the period from 1946 to 1986, contributed to the transformation of the Jeep models from utility vehicles to life-style vehicles.
In 1986, the first generation of Wrangler – the YJ – was launched replacing the CJ series. This new vehicle had a wider track, angled grille, rectangular headlights and a more modern interior. It answered the requests of the growing market for compact four-wheel drive vehicles that although still seeking the practical characteristics of the Jeep CJ series, also asked for “comforts” found in passenger cars.
The second generation of Wrangler, the TJ, was introduced in 1997. Although the TJ looked very similar to the CJ-7, it was very different from a mechanical standpoint. Nearly 80 percent of the vehicle parts were newly designed. The TJ introduced a “Quadra-Coil” suspension, a four-link coil suspension, replacing the previous leaf springs, providing a greatly improved on road performance. Off-road capabilities were enhanced with increased ground clearance and more aggressive approach and departure angles. The all-new 1997 Jeep won the prestigious 4×4 of the year award in United States. The TJ retained several classic Jeep features, such as round headlamps, a fold-down windshield and removable doors as well as a choice of a soft top or removable hard top. A factory-fitted sport bar was also standard.
Rubicon is born
In 2003, after the legendary trail name in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Wrangler Rubicon trim level was launched to enhance the benchmark off-road capabilities of the model, and represent the most rugged and capable Wrangler. The Rubicon dedicated off-road equipment ensured best-in class off-road performances and included the push-button-actuated locking front and rear axles, a specific 4×4 system with three differentials, 4:1 low-range transfer case and many more options not available on any production Jeep before it.
The current Jeep Wrangler (JK) was introduced in 2007, adding to the successful, original Jeep formula an all-new frame, exterior and interior design, diesel and petrol engines and additional safety and convenience features. In 2011, all-new interiors with improved ergonomics and upgraded materials were introduced on all Wrangler models while the Sahara trim level received a new, more premium body-color hardtop to provide a more refined appearance. A choice of three different roof options was also offered to convey the open-air driving experience delivered by a unique convertible car.
With the third generation a four-door model – the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited – was introduced in the European line-up, offering more refined on-road comfort as well as even more versatility. With a 52 centimeter-longer wheelbase, room for five adult passengers and the most cargo space ever available in a Wrangler, the Unlimited offered seamless integration between Jeep legendary off-road capabilities, and the roominess and versatility of a car for every day driving.