It sits at the top of the 4x4 pecking order because the Rubicon, in short-wheel base guise, can drive where no other production vehicle can.
A Ferrari is not the most practical choice as far as everyday commuting goes, but what about the Jeep? Can the Wrangler be an everyday vehicle? I recently spent some time in a red super off-roader to see if it is a practical all-rounder or a nice vehicle, like a Ferrari.
As far as looks are concerned, nothing beats the macho image of a Jeep Wrangler. Even if you don your double-cab bakkie with every off-road accessory known to man, it will still look a bit poofish next to a Wrangler. The McCarthy Inyanga demo I drove had a fat set of aftermarket wheels, which boost the vehicle’s already rugged look, even more.
Driving around in the red Wrangler, I might as well have been in a Ferrari because it turned heads everywhere. Inside the Wrangler you basically have everything that a modern SUV should have in terms of luxury features. The steering wheel has a lot of little buttons, which do things like controlling the volume of the sound system and setting the cruise control.
In the dash is a decent size touch screen and controls for the electric windows and aircon. Plastics are top notch and there is even stitched leather in places. Space might be less, especially seeing that the roof is as flat as a barn door, but otherwise the Wrangler has what all other SUVs have.
The Jeep Wrangler brochure says: “Great adventure starts with great performance.” What this means is that to get the Wrangler to take you places, where nothing else will go, it needs a lot of fuel. The red Rubi I drove had Jeep's 3.6-litre V6 Pentastar under the bonnet. With 209kW and 347Nm this plant has a lot of oomph but be willing to make regular pit stops because frugality is not a Wrangler's best selling point. The 2.8-litre four-cylinder, turbo-diesel option is more economical to drive but if you want a Rubicon - the one that can almost drive upside down - the V6 petrol is the only option available.
The Jeep Wrangler (in long-wheel-base) is surprisingly comfortable to drive in town. One expects the two solid axles to make for a bumpy ride but there is no concerning difference between the Jeep and any double-cab bakkie.
Speed humps, especially, can be taken on with force, without being flung out the window or seeing the oil sump in the rear view mirror. However, the McCarthy Inyanga demo's big wheels are an overkill on the road because they’re noisy and slow the car down. If you’re going to use a Wrangler for everyday driving, like a lot of people do with large SUVs, then its best to stick to the factory-fitted tyres. Regardless, the 3.0-litre V6 still has a lot more power than your average turbo-diesel SUV and that power comes in handy in town as well as on the open road.
Price of bragging rights
I'm not going to say much about the vehicle's off-road performance because it’s not necessary. Stock standard, the Wrangler is the most capable off-roader on the market and an outing with the local 4x4 Club will leave you in awe. What is worth mentioning, though, is the Mopar accessories, which are available for Jeeps.
Mopar is Jeep's own brand of vehicle and camping accessories and offers everything the Jeep owner needs. Buying a Jeep Wrangler is a lifestyle decision but I expect a lot of buyers just fancy the look and never really bother to find out what it is capable of. With the short-wheel-base Wranglers priced from R560 990 and the four-door version coming into the market at R611 990, driving one is not cheap and you can get a lot of 'normal' SUV for your money. But it can be a comfortable everyday vehicle and with it comes the bragging rights of owning the Ferrari of 4x4s, whether you’re just a poser or a real macho man.