The Jeep two-door Wrangler is an off-road champ with its part-time four-wheel drive (4WD), high ground clearance and rugged design. My test Wrangler had "Tank Clear Coat" paint and (optional) high-gloss black wheels, which gave it a decidedly macho military appearance. It almost looked as if it just was driven out of World War II.
There's also a larger, roomier more comfortable four-door Wrangler, but it lacks the visual pizzazz of the two-door model and is not covered here.
I saw a variety of Wrangler list prices when researching this vehicle. Some were $22,995-$32,195, while others were $22,195 to $33,995. I settled on the price range given by Consumer Reports: $22,395-$34,995.
The price sticker for my test 2015 Wrangler "Willys Wheeler" two-door model was $22,995, but options brought it to $35,015, including an $895 destination charge.
Standard items included an automatic transmission, shift-on-the-fly part time 4WD, transfer case skid plate, AM/FM/Comp3 with 8 speakers, tilt steering wheel with audio controls, premium instrument cluster, reclining front seats, folding rear seat and cruise control.
A $2,185 "Dual Top" option group contains soft and hard tops, while the automatic transmission costs $1,350.
Another option group contains air conditioning and an electronic vehicle information center.
The ride was generally comfortable during on-road driving--something that couldn't be said for the two-door Wrangler I drove years ago.That one was slow, had tremendous wind noise above 50 m.p.h. and was very uncomfortable.
The 2015 Wrangler, which comes in a variety of trim levels, is pretty fast with its 285-horsepower V-6, which provides quick acceleration off the line and during 65-75 m.p.h. passing maneuvers.
However, my test Wrangler's estimated fuel economy was mediocre for a small vehicle in its class, at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on highways.
Off-road performance is remarkable. The Wrangler is a mountain goat.
The 3.6-liter engine works with a six-speed manual transmission or a responsive five-speed automatic. My test Wrangler had the V-6 and automatic, which has an easily used manual-shift feature. I recommend the automatic over the manual.
There was scarcely any wind noise in the fairly quiet interior while cruising at 70 m.p.h., despite the high Wrangler's boxy shape. But the side-supportive driver's seat should move back more for a motorist with long legs. And front seats need more thigh support.
Backseat room is laughably tight
Controls are simple, especially those for the climate control system. Front console cupholders are easily reached, and there's a large covered console storage bin. But rear cupholders are plunked on the floor.
Rear visibility is poor, but a passenger dashboard grab bar and grab handles near the roof are a good idea for helping occupants stay in place when the Wrangler is being driven over rough terrain.
A high floor makes it awkward to get in or out, and trying to enter the small rear seat is a trial, even for nimble folks. At least occupants sit high for a good view of surroundings.
Pushbuttons in the outside door handles are generally awkward to use, but have been put for Wranglers for years. I wish they were eliminated.
My test two-door Wrangler's handling was surprisingly good--thanks to such features as an optional performance suspension, electronic stability control and traction control. The four-wheel disc brakes worked well and had good pedal feel.
The cargo area is small unless the backseat is folded forward. However, the tailgate, which swings to the right has a large glass top into which some items can be tossed.
Jeeps are tremendously popular. They fit in just about anywhere in the world.