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2016 Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition


2016 Jeep Wrangler Embraces Black Bear Edition, It Just Got More Stylish

In case you're not satisfied with the level of auto testosterone oozed by the 2016 Jeep Wrangler, maybe the Black Bear Edition can do something to straighten that out.

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.


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2016 Jeep Wrangler Overview

2016 Jeep Wrangler Overview

Published on Sep 18, 2015

The Jeep Wrangler is rough and ready in the most traditional sense. It’s not only the most capable off-road vehicle in Jeep’s lineup, but one of the most capable SUVs you can get today.

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Press Kit: 2016 Jeep Wrangler

Press Kit: 2016 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep® Wrangler: The Most Capable SUV Ever Offers New ‘Black Bear’ Special Edition and Updates to Sahara Model for 2016

New Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition builds on Sport S model, adding special content to the exterior and interior, including premium off-road rock rails
Wrangler Sahara receives exterior and interior appearance updates, including new wheels, body-color bumper applique and Olive Green interior option
Rubicon Hard Rock Edition, Freedom Edition and Willys Wheeler return for 2016

Auburn Hills, Mich., Sep 1, 2015 -

Moving into 2016, the iconic Jeep® Wrangler – the most capable and recognized vehicle in the world – adds a new special edition to its lineup, along with updates to its Sahara model. A one-of-a-kind combination of open-air freedom, off-road capability and on-road refinement has brought Wrangler’s popularity to an all-time high, and new additions for 2016 are sure to continue that trend.

New for 2016 and hailing its name from the notorious Jeep trail in Telluride, Colorado, the Wrangler Black Bear Edition adds special content to the exterior and interior of the best-selling Sport model for a distinctive on- and off-road look.

Originally introduced on the 2015 Wrangler, the Rubicon Hard Rock Edition carries forward the capability-enhancing features of the Rubicon model while including a nine-speaker Premium Alpine audio system and Low Gloss Black grille with High Gloss Black inserts.

Returning for 2016, the Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition offers value to customers with unique exterior and interior appointments. For each Wrangler Freedom Edition sold, Jeep will support the United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) as part of the Jeep Operation Safe Return initiative.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler – the popular and sought after model that salutes the earliest civilian Jeep vehicles with additional off-road hardware for increased capability – also returns for 2016.

Wrangler has always had a unique variety of colors to choose from, and 2016 is no different. New exterior colors include Rhino Mojave Sand and Hypergreen. Additional colors for 2016 include: Billet Silver, Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal, Hydro Blue and Tank.

Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition
The Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition – available on Wrangler or Wrangler Unlimited – builds on the Sport trim level by adding special content to the interior and exterior of the vehicle. The Black Bear Edition is available in nine colors: Billet Silver, Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal, Hydro Blue, Hypergreen, Rhino and Tank.

On the exterior, Black Bear features a heritage “Wrangler” hood decal, topographical Black Bear Pass trail hood decal, off-road rock rails, Satin Black grille, Mineral Gray bumper applique, standard premium Sunrider soft top or optional body-color hard top, 17-inch five-spoke black wheels and added traction with Silent Armor tires, and black tail lamp guards and fuel fill door.

The interior of the Black Bear Edition features black cloth Sedoso seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with black accent stitching, Iron Gray bezels, grab handle vent rings and door handles, sport bar grab handles, all-weather slush mats, standard air conditioning, and the Connectivity Group and Power Convenience Group.

Black Bear Pass is a popular Jeep Jamboree trail in Telluride, Colorado, and is featured in Jeep brand’s Badge of Honor program.

Sahara Model Updates

For 2016, the Sahara model – both Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited – receives updates to its exterior and interior appearance. New features include a body-color bumper applique, modified 18-inch wheels with Granite Crystal painted pockets and polished surface, and modified “Sahara” logo. Additional design touches include high gloss fine silver metallic seven-slot grille throats and iconic headlamp rings, Satin Chrome steering wheel bezel, and Quick Silver grab handle, bezels and vent rings.

Also new for 2016, Sahara offers an optional interior package featuring Olive Green leather seats with Cattle Tan accent stitching throughout.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock Edition

The Rubicon Hard Rock Edition, available on either Wrangler or Wrangler Unlimited models, is the most capable Wrangler in the lineup. Based on the Rubicon model, it is equipped with Wrangler’s part-time four-wheel drive system that has electronic-locking front and rear Dana 44 axles that receive power through a Rock-Trac transfer case with a “4-Low” ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 axle ratio, front and rear, is standard as are Tru-Lok locking differentials. With a six-speed manual transmission, the Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock edition has an impressive crawl ratio of 73.1:1 that makes it a breeze to negotiate any obstacle.

The Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock Edition is offered in 10 colors: Billet Silver, Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal, Hydro Blue, Hypergreen, Rhino, Tank and Mojave Sand.

The Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock Edition has many features that make it distinctive, as well as the most off-road capable Wrangler. BF Goodrich KM 255/75R17 tires are mounted on 17-inch Rubicon aluminum wheels painted satin black with polished faces and a red Jeep Wrangler “icon” logo on the inside pocket.

A Low Gloss Black grille with High Gloss Black inserts and Jeep badge and black front and rear steel off-road bumpers toughen up the exterior, with the front bumper featuring removable end caps and a winch-capable design. These removable end caps help the Wrangler climb obstacles without hindrance, and reduce the damage potential to the bumper system. A dual-vented Power Dome hood helps aid in engine cooling and gives Wrangler a modified appearance. Red tow hooks adorn the front and rear and off-road rock rails give added protection on the trail. A red-silhouette “Rubicon” decal, on both sides of the hood, adds the finishing exterior touches to distinguish the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock Edition’s added capability.

The Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock Edition comes standard with the all-new nine-speaker Premium Alpine audio system, and a Premium Sunrider soft top and is available with a black three-piece Freedom hardtop or body-color hardtop and wheel flares.

The interior has special touches as well. Black leather heated seats are standard, as are seat heaters for the front passengers. A unique gauge cluster features exclusive styling and also features a premium Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) with added read-outs such as oil pressure, transmission and coolant temperatures, digital speed and individual tire pressure, which are helpful when off-roading. The passenger grab handle features Quick Silver accents that are also found on the vent rings, steering wheel spokes and door pulls.

Final design touches include all-weather slush mats, Jeep Trail Rated Kit and unique axle locker and sway-bar disconnect switches.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition

The 2016 Willys Wheeler Edition features upgraded hardware, including a Dana 44 rear axle with Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential and 3.73 gears, BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain LT255/75R17 tires, rock rails and a Jeep Trail Rated Kit that includes a D-Ring, tow strap and gloves in a Jeep-branded bag. This works with the Jeep Command-Trac 4x4 part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio to give the Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition its improved off-road chops.

The Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition is available in 10 colors: Billet Silver, Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal, Hydro Blue, Hypergreen, Rhino, Tank and Mojave Sand.

Special exterior design cues include a Gloss Black grille with black Jeep badge, Gloss Black front and rear bumper appliques, historic Satin Black “4 Wheel Drive” rear tailgate decal and “Willys” hood decals and unique high-gloss black 17-inch aluminum wheels. The Willys Wheeler Edition comes standard with a Sunrider soft top and deep-tint sunscreen rear windows. A premium Sunrider soft top and black-splatter Freedom Top are available.

Willys Wheeler Editions feature the Connectivity Group with SiriusXM Radio, and Willys W-based models have the Power Convenience Group and premium tire-pressure monitoring system as standard. Jeep Wrangler’s iconic half doors are an option.

Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition

The 2016 Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition is a tribute to U.S. military members with military-themed exterior and interior design cues. The Freedom Edition is available as a Wrangler or Wrangler Unlimited model and is offered in Firecracker Red, Bright White and Hydro Blue, plus Black, Billet Silver, Granite Crystal, Hypergreen, Rhino and Tank.

Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition’s exterior features new hard “Oscar Mike” fender badges and decals on the hood and rear quarter panels, new optional tan Premium Sunrider soft top with deep-tint rear windows, Granite Crystal-painted 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, Granite Crystal-painted grille and front and rear bumper inserts, body-color fender flares, side steps with matching black tail lamp guards and fuel fill door, and optional off-road rock rails.

Interior treatments on the Jeep Wrangler Freedom include McKinley leather seat bolsters with Sedoso cloth fabric inserts and silver accent stitching, a new Freedom logo embroidered on the seat backs in silver stitching, silver accent stitching on the steering wheel, doors, seats and front arm rest. Finishing touches include Iron Gray accents on the front passenger grab handle, door pulls and vent rings, Satin Chrome spokes on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and all-weather slush mats.

Other standard features include power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and Uconnect Voice Command and Connectivity Group coupled with standard SiriusXM Radio.


The FCA US 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine – three-time winner of the prestigious Ward’s 10 Best Engines award – delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. It is engineered to provide a broad torque band with a focus on low-end torque, an essential trait needed for extreme off-roading. Engineers also designed the oil sump to provide oil to the pump even at extreme vehicle angles, and the alternator was placed up high so Wrangler can maintain its water-fording capability.

Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited models are available with a six-speed manual or an available five-speed automatic transmission.


The 2016 Jeep Wrangler delivers unmatched off-road capability with legendary four-wheel drive and is produced with more than seven decades of 4x4 engineering experience. Wrangler continues to offer a body-on-frame design, front and rear five-link suspension system, live axles, electronic lockers, and is one of the few mid-size SUVs that offers a six-speed manual transmission, in addition to its five-speed automatic transmission.

The Jeep Wrangler is available with several axle gear ratios allowing customers to optimize fuel economy and vehicle capability. Wrangler is available with 3.21, 3.73 or 4.10 ratios depending on model. Also, Wrangler offers towing capability up to 3,500 pounds.

A best-in-class approach angle of 42.2 degrees, breakover angle of 25.8 degrees and departure angle of 32.3 degrees helps the Jeep Wrangler scale the toughest terrain.

The capable driveline of the Sport and Sahara models include a Dana 30 front axle and Dana 44 rear axle. The Command-Trac NV241, part-time, two-speed transfer case, features a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. In addition, an optional Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential provides extra torque and grip in low-traction environments such as sand, mud or snow.

The Wrangler Rubicon model features heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles and the Rock-Trac NV241 two-speed transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range gear ratio. Rubicon also includes electric front and rear locking differentials, disconnecting front sway bar and 32-inch tires, taking the Wrangler to the highest level of capability.


The Wrangler’s interior combines rich styling, versatility, comfort and intuitive feature use. Highlights include automatic temperature controls, heated premium leather seats, power mirrors and steering wheel controls for vehicle systems. Large rear windows are engineered for greater visibility. A USB port connects to the media center, 12-volt accessory outlets are located throughout the Wrangler and a 115-volt AC outlet is available to power select three-pronged home electronics.

The Jeep Wrangler’s signature features include: classic round headlamps, seven-slot grille, trapezoid wheel flares, removable doors, exposed hinges, a fold-down windshield and innovative removable tops and half doors that allow the Wrangler to retain the brand’s iconic appearance and function. Wrangler Rubicon and Sahara models share a body-color hardtop option, offering a premium appearance.

With room for five adults, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited remains the only four-door 4x4 open-air vehicle on the market.

Safety, Security, and Connectivity
The 2016 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited are available with an array of safety and security features. Standard electronic stability control (ESC), electronic roll mitigation, trailer-sway control, Hill-start Assist and brake traction control are among two dozen available safety and security features. Jeep safety systems are engineered to improve handling and accident avoidance while providing occupant protection, allowing Jeep Wrangler customers the ability to safely “go anywhere and do anything.”

Jeep Wrangler customers can stay connected with Uconnect systems, including voice recognition, Bluetooth streaming audio, navigation and SiriusXM Radio. The Wrangler’s connectivity systems have improved ergonomics by giving the driver control at their fingertips. Intuitive buttons on the front and rear of the steering wheel control a number of features allowing the driver to keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

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Jeep Wrangler Ranks Among Best On Resale

Jeep Wrangler ranks among best on resale
SUVs hold 55% of purchase price at age 5


About a year ago, Monroe car dealer Ralph Mahalak, Jr., gave his employees some new instructions for what to do when Jeep Wranglers came across the auction block. Don’t worry about the price. Just buy ’em.

“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.
Read more at Jeep Wrangler ranks among best on resale - Toledo Blade

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2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys Wheeler

First Drive: 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys Wheeler


There are two types of Jeep people out there—okay, three, if you count Cherokee and Renegade drivers: Those that use their vehicles for more than just commuting duty; and the rest that simply can’t bring themselves to punishing their $40,000 rides.

The folks that fall into the former category are generally pretty critical of the latter, affectionately referring to their vehicles as “mall-crawlers.”

(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)


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2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys Wheeler

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys Wheeler

February 29, 2016

Jeep enthusiasts are well aware that the modern day Jeep Wrangler is a distant relative of the 1945 Willys-Overland CJ (Pronounced the way Gary Coleman said “Whatcha talkin bout Willis”, not “Will-eez”). Since 1950, when Willys won the rights of the “Jeep” nomenclature, there have been countless iterations of the classic design. And don’t be fooled, this design is a classic: the body-on-frame architecture that remains on Wranglers is a peek into the past, and the prominent front end still features the distinctive vertical-slot grille.

Here’s a quick history lesson: Real jeeps (lower case j) have 9 slots in the grille. The 9-slot grille was designed by Ford in 1942 so when Jeep (capital J) wanted to use it as their logo they needed to change it sufficiently to avoid copyright issues with Ford. This is why Jeeps have 7-slot grilles.

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.

Continued HERE

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6 Things I Learned Driving the 2016 Jeep Wrangler

6 Things I Learned Driving the 2016 Jeep Wrangler

Mar 31, 2016

The Wrangler is Jeep’s most recognized most and capable model.

This ready-for-anything vehicle can trace its lineage right back to the original military-grade Willys MA that debuted just in time for the Second World War. In fact, today’s model still features the same body proportions, is equipped with live axles at both ends, and has a spare tire mounted vertically at the rear, traits that go all the way back to 1941.

In case you have trouble with math (like I do), today’s Wrangler represents 75 years of heritage. Countless other automakers have come and gone in that time, but Jeep remains. It’s undoubtedly one of FCA’s strongest brands, with more than 865,000 units delivered in 2015.

I recently evaluated the 2016 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, a mid-range four-door model, and I learned a lot about it during my stint in the driver’s seat. Accordingly, here are the six most important things I learned about Jeep’s ever-popular Wrangler.
6. Go-Anywhere Confidence

With massive iron beams supporting it front and rear plus knobby tires, four-wheel drive and more ground clearance than the height of a 95th percentile toddler, this vehicle is designed to tackle the gnarliest off-road trails. It can go just about anywhere you want, every season of the year, and through any weather conditions. Capability is the name of the game here and the Wrangler excels where the pavement ends. Go ahead and get a little dirty, the Wrangler will laugh in your face and ask for more.
5. Chrysler’s Pentastar V6 is an ENGINEering Masterpiece

I’m a big fan of Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. This punchy engine works just as well in a Dodge Charger as it does in one of Ram’s pickups, it’s brilliant in the 200 sedan and even a Caravan. Predictably, it’s just as enticing when bolted under a Wrangler’s boxy hood. In this application, it delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Another benefit of the Pentastar is that it’s one of the smoothest running bent-sixes on the market today.
4. The Five-Speed Automatic Transmission Is Awful

But for all of this engine’s refinement and power, it was paired with an antiquated five-speed automatic transmission in the Wrangler I tested. This gearbox is like a Throwback Thursday to the old DaimlerChrysler days, and that’s not something to celebrate. For the most part, this transmission behaved itself, but on random occasions, you could catch it off guard and it would slam into gear on upshifts. The available six-speed manual would have been much nicer.
3. It’s Quieter Than You Might Expect

The Wrangler is impressively quiet underway. No, it’s not the most silent vehicle on the market, but when you consider that it has the proportions of an apple crate and stands as tall as a pickup truck, the fact that it doesn’t sound like a regional jet on takeoff leaves you scratching your head. Obviously, there’s no way to fool the slipstream; this rig will never compete with a Prius when it comes to aerodynamics, but engineers still did a damn fine job civilizing this ever-capable brute.
2. It Feels Rubbery

Despite its whisper-like interior, the remainder of the Wrangler’s on-road behavior is a mixed bag … a colostomy bag. If there’s one word that sums up this vehicle’s driving experience, it would be rubbery. But this should come as no surprise, its tires have tall sidewalls and massive tread blocks, plus there are live axles at both ends. Simply put, this thing is not very enjoyable on the street.

Its steering is vague and as you turn, the body seems to roll a bit before the vehicle actually changes direction. The Wrangler’s ride is fairly bouncy and it always feels like there’s a lot of mass moving around underneath your feet. But none of this matters when you’re off-roading. The characteristics that make it drive poorly on the road make it more capable when the road ends.
1. There are Wranglers Everywhere!

This is a purpose-built machine specifically designed to get you places few other vehicles ever could. Of course it’s not going to handle like an M3 on the street! I know that and so do you.

However, Jeep Wranglers are everywhere. The first day I took my loaner out for a spin I saw eight others on the road, the overwhelming number of which were four-door Unlimited models; it was unbelievable.

This, of course, means there are far too many poseurs out there commuting to work in these things rather than bashing rocks and slinging mud like the Wrangler’s designers intended, which is a laughable waste of capability. So here’s a helpful hint: If you live on a cul-de-sac or in a subdivision, you don’t need one of these machines; ditto if you think driving on wet grass constitutes off-roading. Save these vehicles for people who really use them.

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2016 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

Review: Escaping the Urban Jungle in a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

April 06, 2016

Enzo Ferrari famously said that the Jeep was the “only true American sports car.” But that was decades ago, long before the Ford Mustang got a fully-independent suspension and joined the 21st century, before the Camaro lost nearly 400 pounds and actually learned how to take a corner, and before Chevy learned to stop pilfering parts from the Cobalt and actually built a Corvette that could be counted as one of the best cars in the world. Today, the Jeep JK Wrangler isn’t that much different than when it was introduced in 2006. On paper, it really isn’t that different from when AMC ended the postwar CJ (Civilian Jeep) line back in ’86 to launch the Wrangler. Come to think of it, it isn’t all that different than the CJs either, or for that matter, the Willys MB that first rolled out of the Toledo, Ohio, factory back in 1941 – the same exact place where my test Wrangler was built.

Now 75 years on, the Jeep Wrangler is America’s most active World War II vet; our most vital link to the prewar driving world – though in many ways, the spartan charm of today’s JK would’ve even looked out of place in a ’39 Mercury. Everywhere you look, its exposed hinges, bolts, separate fenders and a healthy dose of body-colored metal inside give the impression that it could still pull frontline duty. But despite its famous army brat heritage, Jeep retired from military service in 1969. If you’re a hardcore Jeep fan, that’s integrity; a stubborn adherence to the solid-axle, body-on-frame, no compromises, go-anywhere formula that helped win a war and kick start four-wheeling as we know it. Without the Jeep, there’d be no Land Rover, no Toyota Land Cruiser, or any short-wheelbase dead-simple adventure machine, simple as that.

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.

The drive
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.


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