2015 Jeep Wrangler Review

2015 Jeep Wrangler - The 2015 Jeep Wrangler Two-Door model is one of the toughest "go-anywhere" off-road vehicles.


Prices: $22,395-$34,995

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.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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