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WRANGLING HARDER (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 86
The Jeep Wrangler is an icon that has managed to remain loyal to its roots while adapting to the changing spirit of its age. If you think that it's strictly for Californian rock hoppers and D-list boy band members, then think again. The much improved 'JL'-series fourth generation model introduced in 2018 was the most credible Wrangler yet, justifying what Jeep sees as its position as the only true off-road company in the market. Here, we look at the 2018-2022 'JL'-series models as a used buy.
Modelsword count: 8
(2dr/4dr SUV - 2.0 petrol, 2.2 diesel 4x4)
Historyword count: 307
Back in 1938, the US government's original brief for a 'light reconnaissance vehicle' resulted in the development of the Willys Jeep, and the subsequent production of 368,000 of them for use during World War 2. General George C Marshall described it as "America's greatest contribution to modern warfare". The spiritual successor to the Willys Jeep is the Jeep Wrangler. Much separates the two designs of course. What's ideal for a theatre of war doesn't necessarily work for a family trip to the cinema and over the years, through CJ, YJ and TJ Wrangler models, as different company owners have come and gone, Jeep designers have struggled with the need to develop this icon without losing its distinct appeal. Their biggest challenge came with the 'JK' version, launched in 2007 with the need to justify its existence in a modern SUV market that claims to have an answer to every need. Jeep's response was offer two Wrangler 'firsts': five doors and diesel power. But that 'JK'-series model still didn't really reach out beyond this car's hard core base of enthusiasts. This, its 'JL'-series successor, needed to continue to please these people - as it did, with better off road angles, more ground clearance and a tighter turning circle. But at the same time, this more modern Wrangler needed to offer slightly wider appeal. For that, brand owners Fiat Chrysler knew that a completely fresh generation of powertrains would be required. And areas like ride quality, refinement and day-to-day usability would need to be completely re-evaluated. As they were with this 'JL'-series car. It's a Wrangler - but perhaps not quite as you know it. The Wrangler sold in this form from 2018. Buy 2022 though, the diesel engine option had been dropped and a 4xe Plug-in petrol variant introduced. It's the 2018-2022-era 'JL'-series models we look at here.
What You Getword count: 599
The Wrangler format is iconic: a simple boxy body dropped onto an old-style ladder-frame chassis with a folding screen, detachable doors and a removable roof. You don't mess with that. Or with the familiar frontage, which offers up the usual circular headlights and familiar seven-slot grille. Elsewhere around the car, all the usual Wrangler hallmarks are present and correct: the separate bumpers, the outboard spare wheel and extended wheel arches flared at angles similar to those of the original Willys Jeep. Look more closely though and you'll find that much changed with this 'JL'-series design, as the designers sought to subtly evolve the look for this fourth generation model. That front grille for instance features a canted upper section and its outer slats intersect with headlights that feature full-LED beams from Magnetti Marelli. Even the vertical windscreen is different - in this form, it's not quite so vertical and has a different 4-bolt design at the top of the frame that allows it to fold down far more easily, though you've still got to get your socket set out to do it. Up-front, you're faced with a dashboard structure as bluff as the north face of the Eiger, but it's much more appealing than the boring plasticky layout that characterised the interior of the previous 'JK'-series model. The coloured fascia frontage aimed to reference the metal-panelled dashboards used in much earlier Wranglers and the previous tightly sectioned centre stack gave way to a more open layout, though one absolutely festooned with knobs and buttons. Everything's of much better quality than anything that buyers of this model had previously seen. Plus there's a sophisticated 8.8-inch centre-dash 'Uconnect' infotainment screen and a further 7-inch TFT display between the conventional dials in the instrument binnacle. We should talk about the open air aspect; all 'JL' Wranglers come as standard with a three-piece Modular Hard Top with lift-off front panels. The rear section must be removed with a socket set. If you don't like the thought of that, you can get a car whose original owner specified a 'Sunrider Soft Top' that folds back either manually or electrically instead. With the roof fully down, the doors removed and the windscreen folded, the Wrangler driving experience really is like nothing else. In the rear, the 4-Door model's extra half metre of length might make possible a properly-sized rear seat, but it doesn't deliver doors that open with a very wide aperture. And once you're inside, it's not hugely comfortable either, though it's obviously a huge improvement on the cramped conditions you'd get in the alternative 2-Door model. We thought leg room might be an issue here, but actually we think you'd get more complaints about the rather upright backrests for occupants on a longer trip. Still, if your driver has removed the doors and you're travelling al fresco open to the elements, you won't care about any of that. Travelling in the back on an SUV isn't usually an experience to be in any way savoured but in a Wrangler, it can be. Let's finish with the boot. Once everything's opened up, there's a 533-litre boot which ought to be bigger but can't be because it's compromised by the tubular structural beams and the siting of a huge audio speaker on the right hand side. There's no ski hatch or 40:20:40 sear seat split for longer items, so if you need more room, you'll need to push forward the 60:40-split rear seats; annoyingly, you have to go round to the side of the car to release the backrests. That frees up 1,044-litres of space.
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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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