So, let's see what we're dealing with here. First of all, we must mention how this version got its name. Jeep tells us they picked this name "from the notorious Jeep trail in Telluride, Colorado" - if they say so - and it's all about exterior and interior enhancements.
That being said, let's see what goodies Jeep had in the bag for the 2016 Wrangler.
First in line, the exterior. Here, the Black Bear Edition offers nine new exterior color options, including Billet Silver, Black, Bright White and Firecracker Red.
There's also a Wrangler hood decal available on the options list, accompanied by a topographical Black Bear Pass trail hood decal. Also, the Black Bear Edition comes with off-road rock rails and 17-inch five-spoke black wheels wearing Silent Armor tires.
Step inside and you'll find black cloth Sedoso seats, a steering wheel wrapped in leather with black accent stitching. Other amenities include Iron Gray bezels, grab handle vent rings and door handles.
Sahara models are also enhanced
For 2016, the Sahara Models come with a body color bumper applique plus modified 18-inch wheels with Granite Crystal painted pockets.
Inside, Jeep added Satin Chrome steering wheel bezel, and Quick Silver grab handle, bezels and vent rings.
There's no word on pricing yet, but additional info should become available soon.
Read more at Jeep Wrangler ranks among best on resale - Toledo Blade“They were complaining they could never buy them because they were overpriced,” he said. “Obviously, someone is selling them. Why don’t you keep your hand raised until we buy them.”
Mr. Mahalak, who owns the Monroe Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram Superstore, acknowledges the idea sounded a little crazy, but it’s worked.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “You always sell it.”
The Wrangler, which is built at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Toledo Assembly Complex, has consistently been among the best at retaining its value and that remains true this year.
Kelley Blue Book said Tuesday the Wrangler once again enjoys the top resale value within the compact sport utility and crossover segment.
The Wrangler slipped from No. 2 to No. 5 overall in Kelley’s 2016 Best Resale Value Awards, but the Jeep still holds onto its purchase price far better than the industry average.
“The Wrangler is one of those vehicles that just holds its value phenomenally well,” said Eric Ibara, director of residual values for Kelley Blue Book.
The valuation service expects a new Wrangler to keep 66 percent of its sticker price three years in and 55 percent after five years. The five-year assumption is based on a vehicle in average condition with 75,000 miles.
The industry average for 2016 models is about 35 percent after five years, down slightly from last year. Officials say used car prices should slide a bit in 2016 as more vehicles come off leases and go back into the retail stream.
Kelley Blue Book uses sales data, market conditions, economic expectations, and other factors to gauge the resale value, but Mr. Ibara said at its heart, it’s simple.
“It’ll sound a little trite but it really is Econ 101,” he said. “It’s a balance of supply and demand. We have seen examples of great vehicles that should carry a strong residual value, but if too many are produced, it will hurt the used car value.”
Tops for 2016 in the Kelley study was the Toyota Tacoma. The midsize pickup has been a regular on the Kelley list, but it got a boost this year after a major redesign. Kelley Blue Book estimates the Tacoma will hold onto nearly 62 percent of its value after five years.
Trucks and SUVs, sales of which have been soaring of late, dominated the list. Following the Tacoma are the Toyota 4Runner, the GMC Canyon, and Chevrolet Colorado.
The Jeep Cherokee, which is also made at the Toledo Assembly Complex, didn’t make the list, which means it wasn’t among the top 10 overall or among the top three ranked in its segment.
For the brandwide awards, Kelley Blue Book said Subaru and Lexus were tops.
Car shoppers should take note of expected residual values, the rating company says. Vehicles that hold their value well can often be leased for less, while buyers could net thousands of dollars more when it comes time to sell.
(As a side note, there are even a few websites where you can buy “Mall-Rated” badges to replace the “Trail-Rated” ones installed out of the factory.)
But the truth is, no matter how those “real” Jeep folks feel when they see a Wrangler without a speck of dirt on it, those “mall-crawlers” play a crucial role keeping their beloved four-wheeler around.
And the proliferation of Wrangler sales—FCA’s plant in Toledo, Ohio, has pumped out more than one million JKs since 2007—has led to plenty of new versions, including the Willys Wheeler.
As the name would suggest, this particular Wrangler trim pays homage to the World War II-era Willys MB.
2016JeepWrangler-3Positioned above the Sport and Sport S versions of the two-door Wrangler and the base Sport S in four-door Unlimited form, the Willys Wheeler adds a 3.73 ratio and limited slip capability to its Dana 44 rear axle, and performance shocks and 255/75R17 BFGoodrich off-road tires at all four corners, plus a matching full-size spare.
Otherwise it’s little more than an aesthetic exercise, with 17-inch black painted aluminum wheels, black badges, and decals on the hood and tailgate.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, particularly when the Willys Wheeler is bathed in the drab green our tester came with, aptly called “Tank” by the good folks at Jeep.
There’s not much inside to make the Willys Wheeler look and feel any different than a Sport S, which is a little on the disappointing side—particularly considering its $34,495 starting price in Unlimited garb.
In fact, the interior of the Willys Wheeler lists out with almost identical standard features as the entry-level Unlimited trim, which leaves a lot on the table despite the price point.
Even air conditioning is a $1,200 option in the Willys Wheeler, while the 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system in our tester runs another $775 and doesn’t even include navigation.
Other add-ons in our tester include the three-piece Freedom Top hardtop, tubular side steps and an Alpine audio system, pushing the price of the options list to $6,985 including the $1,495 automatic transmission.
But back to what should matter most in a Wrangler, and that’s the drivetrain.
Quick confession: When Jeep announced it was dumping the famed 4.0-litre straight six-cylinder in favour of the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 I was bummed.
It’s nothing against the Pentastar, which is available under the hoods of exactly 50 per cent of the former Chrysler Group’s North American lineup and has proven to be a solid engine, but I loved everything about the 4.0-litre.
And while the Pentastar will never match the torquey PowerTech in sound, the 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque do a pretty impressive job of providing power on-demand in the same manner its predecessor was known for.
With the five-speed auto box filling the transmission tunnel—fear not, Jeep fans: A six-speed manual is still standard equipment—the V6-powered Willys Wheeler was happiest with the skinny pedal pressed down when booting around town and on the highway, proving responsive, reliable and predictable.
The Wrangler is still, however, about as aerodynamic as a brick building, so if fuel economy is a concern then it may be wise to look elsewhere.
The new five-cycle test method implemented by the feds turns up a combined average of 13.4 L/100 km—only slightly better than the 13.6 L/100 km showing on our tester.
If you’re a true Jeep person you’re probably going to opt for either the mild Sport or Sport S and build up a bruiser yourself, or the wild Rubicon and let the locking front and rear Dana 44 axles and Rock-Trac four-wheel drive system make even the most serious of trails look like a cake-walk.
Perhaps, then, the Willys Wheeler is better suited for the aforementioned mall-crawling duty, plenty capable, but more comfortable looking the part instead of playing it.
Base price: $34,495
As tested: $45,475 (freight included)
But instead of conquering hostile enemy beaches like our forefathers did, today’s Wranglers are mainly used for moderate to extreme off-roading and in most cases, city driving. To pay homage to the Willys CJ, Jeep released a special Willys edition of the current Wrangler. The $2,900 option over the base Wrangler four-door fits the Jeep with exterior features to make it more rugged, like the original Willys, and to help it look the part.
Functionally, the Willys Jeep gets a tougher Dana 44 rear axle with a limited-slip differential and the front gains a Dana 30 axle, all in helping the 3.6-litre V6 put the power down like a freight train. The Willys also gains beefy BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires and rock rails. Visually, the Willys gains a Tank paintjob that is a throwback to the olive green drab exteriors used in the war effort. Gloss-black bumpers, front-grille, a “Willys” hood decal, and a retro “4 Wheel Drive” decal round out the package.
Beneath all of the pizzazz, this is still a Jeep Wrangler through and through. The steering feels like you’re churning rice pudding, and the big mud tires don’t do the Jeep any justice on any surface except mud. I often tell myself that if any other vehicle drove the way this Jeep did, it would be totally unacceptable.
But for some reason, maybe you can call it “a Jeep thing”, I found myself totally caught up in the sheer capability of the Wrangler. Every time I found myself looking at a mud-covered trail I could not help but say “what the heck” and just have at it. It did not just stop there either. When using the Willys in an urban environment, it becomes an assault vehicle. Stuck in traffic with a median stuck in between you and freedom? No problem. The family behind you in the Toyota Corolla will be amazed by the way you climb over the obstacle and carry on about your day.
Just as it did in the war, the current Jeep has the tendency to be useful for whatever the situation, even filling in for roles that it wasn’t necessarily designed for. Yes, anybody with a smidge of common sense can agree the Wrangler is a great off-roader but even with its size and weight, the Jeep still retains a sense of sportiness. Pop off the roof, unhook the doors, push down the front windshield, and you have just unveiled a capable and carefree summer cruiser, ready to take on a muddy swamp or a quick bomb down a sandy beach.
The Willys Wheeler Edition can best be described as the happy medium between the pricier Rubicon and the Sahara editions. Although, I do wish the interior was up to par with the Sahara’s. The moment you step into the Willys you feel like an army brat that has just received his first orders.
But if you’re not a member of the Jeep faithful, the Wrangler may be more difficult to live with everyday, especially in an era when the cheapest cars on the market can cruise comfortably and reliably over 80 all day every day. Its solid axles may turn mountains into molehills, but in everyday driving, they also make molehills into mountains. Much of the plastic interior feels hard and unforgiving, and it doesn’t feel new either – in fact, it feels about as resistant to change as your uncle who still wears that same polyester suit to family events that he’s had since before you were born.
And yet, the Wrangler is still the undisputed star of the ascending Global Jeep Brand. The marque sold over 200,000 of them last year, and it’s on track to do the same again in 2016. It’s the only Jeep model that isn’t regularly offered with a rebate, the only one that moves at (or above) sticker price. People love the Wrangler, and frankly, after spending a week with one in New York City (Jeep purists can start cringing now), I can understand why. Because potholes aside, I had more fun booming around town in it that I would’ve had in a Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, or hell, even a Ferrari. Because after years of trial and error, American sports cars needed to get better; the Wrangler didn’t, and it still delivers everyday thrills in a way that nothing else in the world can match.
You’ve seen a Jeep, right? Because my ’16 Wrangler Sahara looked like that, except very, very blue. It was Hydro Blue to be exact, with color-matching bumpers, and optional three-piece Freedom Top. While the vast majority of the hardtop jeeps out there come with the matte black top, all that extra paint really made my Sahara stand out. And even though it may be one of the louder colors offered on something that isn’t a sports car, Hydro Blue fit the Wrangler perfectly. It seemed unintentionally retro; a color that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a ’50s or ’60s era CJ-5 – or even on the recent Shortcut concept from this year’s Easter Jeep Safari. Of course, Jeep offers more sedate colors like “Mojave Sand” (beige), and “Granite Crystal” (dark gray), but if you’re in the market for a Wrangler, go bold. Leave the boring colors for Compass and Liberty buyers.
But about that Freedom Top: It’s a $1,995 option, but I can’t recommend it enough. New York weather in March is always a mixed bag, so I was able to experience about three seasons of weather in the course of a week. The front two panels come off with the twist of a few latches and a couple knobs. With two people, they came off (and went back on) in about five minutes, and stow neatly in the back inside a nylon protective bag (though it limits rear visibility). With those off, you get a “coupe de ville” driving experience like a Mini convertible – or if you’re feeling ambitious – a Porsche 911 Targa or the upcoming Mazda Miata RF.
Taking the front panels off makes for a great open-top driving experience, but if you want to go completely topless, Jeep provides a tool kit in the dashboard to undo the row of bolts that holds the rest of the roof to the body tub. Once everything is bolted back together, the fiberglass cap is surprisingly capable, keeping warm air trapped inside the cabin on cold mornings, and keeping road noise largely at bay. If you want to get the full Wrangler driving experience but have to put up with harsh winters, go for the Freedom Top, you won’t regret it.
Exterior pros and cons
+ In the market for a Wrangler? Two words: Hydro Blue. You’ll never forget where you parked again.
+ Speaking of parking, parallel parking is a breeze. See where the C-Pillar ends? That’s the back of your Jeep.
+ The JK is 10 years old, the formula is 75; it still looks great.
– The top’s front panels are a breeze to handle on your own, but make sure you have a friend (and a safe garage) around to take off and store the rest of the roof.
– I hesitate to use the word “precious,” but the fog lights integrated into the bumper seem a little too ornate compared to the rest of the Wrangler.
– Small potatoes, but I would loved to get the Freedom Top in something other than body color or flat black – white fiberglass would make for an even cooler retro vibe.
Since 2006, the Wrangler’s base powerplant has been Chrysler’s 3.6 liter Pentastar V6, and it does the job almost as admirably as the classic AMC straight-six used from ’72 to ’06. The Wrangler is no featherweight (the lightest models weigh in at nearly 3,900 pounds), but it can move when you’re stomp the gas to get through a yellow light or scramble up a gravel mountain trail. Fuel economy isn’t great (17 city, 21 highway), but then again, there aren’t many people cross-shopping a Wrangler with a Prius.
I took the Wrangler out of the city for an afternoon of exploring upstate, and it handled the gravel seasonal roads and wide open spaces of the Hudson River Valley exactly like you’d expect a Wrangler to. The five-speed automatic transmission comes with Hill Descent Control, which came in handy when I came to a few steep drops off-road. And the shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive is as reliable as you’d expect it to be. Automotive technology may changing at break-neck pace, but when you’re facing an incline between you and the paved road back to civilization that would make most modern utility vehicles want to run and hide, there’s nothing more satisfying than shifting a Wrangler into 4WD and pressing on.
Powertrain pros and cons
+ The 285 horsepower Pentastar V6 makes the heavy Wrangler feel fast.
+ Hill Descent Control was great for an off-roading novice like myself.
+ Looking down and seeing that shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive stalk is the equivalent of a lite off-roading/inclement weather security blanket.
– Gas may be cheap, but that doesn’t make the Wrangler’s fuel economy any better.
– At highway speeds, it can feel like the powertrain and body are working against each other.
– Unlike most modern cars, you feel like you’re going faster than you really are. Off-road, that’s great. On the highway, not so much.
The interior is where the majority of people seem take issue with the Wrangler. The first Jeep I ever rode in was an uncle’s ’78 CJ-7 off-roader that used a repurposed keg as a gas tank; the interior layout in the ’16 Wrangler is largely the same as that now-38 year old rig: black plastic dash cap, grab handle on the passenger side, radio in the center, and instrumentation that tells you what you need to know, and nothing you don’t. Admittedly, there are some big differences (dual front airbags, more plastic for crash protection, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Chrysler’s UConnect system), but the amount of hard, unforgiving plastic feels out of place in this era of near-universal interior improvements.
That said, it’s a Wrangler, and like fuel economy, no one’s ever bought a Wrangler for its opulent interior. If anything, it feels like the Jeep has been brought into the 21st century against its will, and there’s something charming about that. The narrow touch screen seems incongruous and doesn’t seem to work as well as other Chryslers, and the acres of plastic seem like they were fitted to comply with safety standards, nothing more, nothing less. Concessions to modernity (the Sahara is a higher trim, after all) like a nice leather-wrapped steering wheel seem out of place in a truck where the doors come off and you can remove the carpet to hose out the floors. If you’re going from a Cherokee to a Wrangler, the tall front buckets, cramped back seat, and minimal cargo space may seem like a downgrade. But if you know what you’re getting into, and you understand that the plastic is durable and could survive a hosing, there isn’t much you could break and not live without, and that there’s probably a good reason why the Jeep’s interior layout hasn’t changed too much since Truman was in office, you’ll feel right at home.
Interior pros and cons
+ Simple and well thought out; everything you need, nothing you don’t.
+ Interior feels as classic and rugged as the exterior.
+ Front bucket seats are comfortable on- and off-road.
– The rear seat is pretty cramped, and its tall headrests reduce rear visibility.
– Seating for four, luggage space for one.
– The Sahara is loads of fun, but my tester rang in at $36,960. If you’re shopping for a utility vehicle on interior alone, look elsewhere.
Tech and safety
Like the rest of the interior, the Wrangler’s tech and safety features feel decidedly last decade, if not last century. In a time when the Chevy Spark comes standard with 10 airbags, the Wrangler has two. The government gives it a three-star rollover rating (thanks to that beefy roll bar), and the IIHS gives it good to marginal ratings in crash tests. But remember, the Wrangler is a vehicle that lists “Fuel Tank Skid Plate” on its list of top safety features, so if you’re looking for a family-friendly Jeep, look to a Renegade or Cherokee.
The Wrangler occupies a unique position in the automotive world because people love it more for its lack of technology – something that’s put it at odds with increasingly strict federal safety and emissions standards. By all accounts, the 2018 Wrangler, will be a lot more, ahem, contemporary, but Jeep’s challenge won’t just be making it compliant, it’ll be keeping that rugged analog feel that 1.25 million people (and counting) bought JK Wranglers for.
+ One of best the best – and cheapest – analog driving experiences in the world.
+ Chrysler’s UConnect is so easy to navigate.
+ I wanted to give the Jeep a name, but was caught off guard by the shockingly life-like GPS voice called Michelle. By the end of the week, I think Michelle and I had a Twin Peaks-style Agent Cooper/Diane thing going. I don’t know if she feels the same way.
– Want a touch screen bigger than 6.5 inches? You’re out of luck.
– Again, it’s hard to justify that high price with what you don’t get.
– Safety ratings could be worse, but, well… don’t crash it.
Have you ever heard of the “Jeep Wave?” It’s real, and it’s fantastic. It started happening about 50 miles north of New York; sometimes it was a friendly open palm, other times it was biker-style flick of the wrist, with the thumb, index and middle finger open, like an umpire calling strike two. It was like instant access to a club, and all I had to do was drive around in this cheerful blue off-roader. Upstate, probably 80% of Wrangler drivers waved. In the city it was a lot less, but I always tried to establish friendly contact because even though I was an interloper, because, you know, it’s still a Jeep thing.
In the city, the Wrangler is tall enough to see above most traffic, and makes it easy to find where you parked. It rocks back and forth like a ship at sea over potholes, but I didn’t have enough time with my Wrangler to get sick of it. At possibly extra-legal highway speeds, the hood likes to shimmy under those iconic external release latches (which can be more than a little worrying), but it handles surprisingly well at speed, stays surefooted around corners, and the cabin never got loud enough to interrupt a conversation.
Wrap up and review
The Wrangler may have a unique place in automotive history, but it could also be one of the last mass-market models that buyers need to make compromises for. The days when economy cars and pickup trucks were torture on long trips may be long over, but the Wrangler is a throwback to when you researched and bought a vehicle to suit your lifestyle, not just flipped a coin and took home a one-size-fits-all crossover. A Wrangler certainly isn’t a crossover, but it isn’t really a modern SUV either; it’s something slightly different, maybe on a parallel evolutionary branch.
That said, over 1.2 million people over the past decade have decided that the JK Wrangler is the perfect vehicle for them, and after spending just a week with one, I can see why. It wasn’t a great city car, it wasn’t good on gas, and it didn’t ride particularly well, but I haven’t had this much fun running mundane errands in a modern car in a long time, and I’m the only one who feels that way either. A lot has changed since Enzo Ferrari made his famous declaration, but the Wrangler’s stubborn refusal to grow up has made it all the more greater. Here’s hoping that for 2018 we get more of the same.