I’m rather fond of the old-school nature of the Jeep: that separate body and chassis, solid axles at either end. This one is a Rubicon, which is as hardcore an off-road variant as you’ll find in the UK, so it has 17in wheels with 255/75 BF Goodrich MudTerrain KM2 tyres, of 32in diameter (apparently the way serious 4×4 types gauge a wheel and tyre set-up). It also has a disconnectable front anti-roll (sway) bar, electronically lockable differentials and an uprated off-road software programme to make the most of them. The way I figure, if you’re going to have a Wrangler, you might as well go full Wrangler.
This one arrived with a fair few miles on it – 18,000 – which also suits me fine. It’s still not a big number, but interesting to try to get a bigger handle on durability. I had thought that would guarantee we’d need to service the car at some point during its stay with us, given the 12,000-mile intervals – again, a useful exercise – but I see there’s a stamp in the book at 18,000 miles, too, and it seems unlikely I’ll hit 30,500. We’ll see.
Some cars are better than others at being driven big amounts of mileage in short amounts of time. Unlikely though it might seem, a Toyota Land Cruiser I ran last year was one of them. I covered 38,000 miles in it and it was a surprisingly easy motorway cruiser.
The Wrangler isn’t quite the same – those KM2 tyres hum like an apiary at speed – but it’s better than you might think. Everywhere in America is a long way from everywhere else, after all, so it’s built for it. And the 2.2-litre diesel, mated to an auto transmission and a drivetrain that has a 2WD mode (as well as 4WD high and low ratio) means I’m seeing more than 32mpg so far.
The Wrangler’s interior is also more habitable than tradition would suggest. Material grades are good and there are some quite sweet design touches – a little Jeep motif in the corner of the windscreen, for example. There’s climate control and a sufficiently sized centre screen with smartphone mirroring, while visibility is good so it’s actually a pretty easy car to spend time with. There is ingress into the left side of the driver’s footwell from the transmission casing, but it doesn’t bother me much.
Refinement could be stronger, but I’m also prepared to overlook that. The fact is, you can remove the roof panels and then the entire roof, and, should you want to, the doors too. So it’s bound to be a little less snug. As soon as I can guarantee a couple of dry days, I’ll try that. I think the only issue, on the road, is that the door mirrors will come off with the doors. Off road, obviously, it’s brilliant.