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.

Richard Lane

Road tester
Who says driving big cars in London is stressful? Other motorists were surprisingly willing to move over when they saw the Wrangler coming at them down a narrow street, I found. And plenty will be used like that

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.

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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.

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