The JL-generation Wrangler comes in three flavours ranging from the suburban-spec Sahara to the slightly higher-riding, wilderness-prepared Rubicon with its switchable front anti-roll bar, heavy-duty alternator, 32in BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tyres, locking differentials and the ability to take a winch without the need for modifications.
Few owners will ever require that level of hardware, though beneath the lightly revised bodywork – whose aluminium doors are removable – each Wrangler retains its reassuringly rugged ladder-frame chassis, solid axles and two-speed transfer case, with 2.72:1 low-range transfer gearing intended for rock crawling (which goes out as short as 4:1 in the Rubicon). To save fuel, the driveline can be switched to rear drive at speeds of up to 45mph.
Our test car, in Europe-only Overland trim, is equipped with Jeep’s new 2143cc turbocharged four-cylinder MultiJet-II diesel engine, which is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox (no manuals are available in the UK). With 197bhp, it gives plenty away to the 268bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine also offered on these shores (some other markets get a 3.6-litre petrol V6), but makes up for it with superior torque, with 332lb ft available from 2000rpm.
Unlike the Rubicon, the Overland wears a hybrid off-road tyre, although both have full-time mechanical four-wheel drive. Both derivatives also use rigid axles manufactured by US specialist Dana, although the Rubicon gets more heavy-duty ones with locking differentials. In the Overland, the rear axle packs a limited-slip differential.
Suspension is by coil springs and passive dampers, while the electro-hydraulically assisted recirculating-ball steering is geared to a high and suitably forgiving ratio of 16.2:1. On the underside of the chassis are no fewer than four skidplates, which protect the fuel tank, transfer case and gearbox oil-pan. Rubicon models get further protection in the form of heavy-gauge tubular rock-rails to bear the brunt of boulder strikes.
In terms of length and width, the four-door Wrangler sits between BMW’s X3 and X5 SUV models, though is taller than both, with 242mm of ground clearance being among the best of any mass-production vehicle. Approach, departure and breakover angles of 35.4deg, 30.7deg and 20.0 degrees respectively further distance the Wrangler four-door from lesser pretenders, though these numbers are greater still for the shorter wheelbase two-door Wrangler, and particularly in Rubicon specification.