By KBB.com Editors
In addition to being one of the parents of the Mustang and righting the financial shipwreck that was Chrysler in the 1970s, Lee Iacocca's most significant contribution to American motoring may have been the purchase - under his watch, as chairman of Chrysler - of American Motors Corporation. Not only did its purchase get AMC out of the hands of the French(!), but it secured a path to market for those Jeep products on the cusp of introduction, including the trendsetting Cherokee and its stablemate, the Grand Cherokee. The success of those launches has only enhanced the viability of the iconic Wrangler, now in its biggest, boldest and - in the guise of the Unlimited - most accommodating iteration. For 2011 the model news and marketing push may be with the all-new Grand Cherokee, but that shouldn't reduce the importance of some very credible enhancements to the established Wrangler recipe.
If you have a real need for all-season capability, or simply a strong desire to depart the beaten path, the 2011 Jeep Wrangler is a tough recipe to beat. And with city streets and freeways providing an increasingly unfriendly atmosphere to standard, car-based suspensions, large tires and real ground clearance are increasingly handy for the committed urbanite.
In its most recent evolution the Wrangler has grown significantly and is currently some five inches wider than its predecessor. In combination with a heavy, overbuilt - yet strong and rugged - platform is an old-design 3.8-liter V6 engine that offers less power yet greater thirst than that provided by the Grand Cherokee's standard 3.6-liter V6. The new powertrain is coming to the Wrangler - projected for the 2012 model year - and for those wanting to maximize their automotive efficiency it may be worth the wait.
If you believe beauty is on the inside, you'll love the modifications made to the Wrangler's interior for model year 2011. New seat fabric, available leather, an all-new instrument panel with revised air ducts, a redesigned center stack and revised radio lineup are just a few of the many changes wrought by Jeep's product team. Although "soft-touch" may seem like a less-than-dirty word to a committed off-roader, it perfectly describes these interior updates, in combination with improved ergonomics and a quieter ride.
Driving Impressions Truck-based, solid-axle platforms are perfect for boulder hopping, but less perfect for negotiating Boulder, Colorado. With that as the obvious, the engineering team at Jeep has done an amazing job...enhancing the Wrangler's off-road credibility while improving its on-road prowess. You won't confuse the 2011 Jeep Wrangler - despite its open top - with any of the current crop of sport roadsters, but neither does it generate the on-road angst of Jeeps of early generations, where the steering sometimes seemed connected to the front wheels by a loose rope and applying the brakes did not necessarily bring things to a quick stop. As noted earlier, we're fans of the Rubicon for its aggressive off-road capability, and wish a Wrangler Sport had more in the way of standard rubber, but you can't argue with the success in crafting this oh-so-careful balance, and doing it for under $25,000. Credit a vastly improved structure for the improvements to its handling and the contributions those handling improvements have made to active safety - the all-important ability to avoid an accident before it happens.
Sunrider Soft Top
Lets the sun shine in when you want it, while keeping the elements out when you need it. And it's accomplished with the convenience of opening a sunroof.
The four-door Wrangler allows you to share the goodness of "Jeeping" with more than one friend. And, if you just have one friend, the Unlimited allows you to pick the friend with a lot of stuff.
As noted in "What's New," the news for model year 2011 is an inside story. The Wrangler has been through evolutionary improvements throughout its seven decades of development, but rarely has the interior displayed so much reinvention. Recognizing that, all of the cloth, leather and soft-touch upgrades in the world won't disguise the very real need to climb into the passenger compartment of a Wrangler and become engaged, whether - at the end of a long day in the office - you really want to be or not. In short, despite a concerted effort to broaden the Wrangler's appeal through a host of 21st-Century niceties (new cloth, leather, instrumentation, center stack and audio offerings), its furnishings remain much more closely aligned with the Greatest Generation than Generation Y.Exterior
Few in the industry better understand their brand than those assigned to Jeep. (And we'll excuse - for the moment - the aberration that is Jeep's Compass). The functionality - in the guise of removable doors and foldable windshield - still remains in the 2011 Jeep Wrangler, as do those traditional cues that are sometimes found elsewhere (for example, the Hummer showroom) but will always refer to Jeep. However, today's Jeep is fully invested in the modern world, with proportions and capability that make it far more viable in current automotive environs. The bigger dimensions may marginalize it slightly on a tight trail, but work far better in the cut-and-thrust that is urban driving and, for that matter, dealing with the larger proportions of adjacent cars and trucks.
The beauty of the 2011 Jeep's Wrangler is, in large part, its utter simplicity. To be sure, standard Command-Trac shift-on-the-fly part-time 4WD is notable at a $22,000 base price but, then, who'd want a 2WD Jeep? And the continued availability of a standard six-speed manual for the U.S. is both notable and encouraging, suggesting that for the present time a small percentage of Americans can shift gears and talk on their hands-free cell phones at the same time. A Media Center may sound too sophisticated for Wrangler intenders, but it's included as standard equipment and located right next to the steering wheel.
Given the Wrangler's all-season drivetrain, the availability of a "Freedom Top" three-piece hardtop is not only notable, but viable. And, in the Sun Belt, A/C can be a lifesaver. We're most impressed, however, by not one option but a collection of them - all under the guise of the 2011 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. No carmaker offers such credible off-road capability for under $30,000, and it's unlikely that anyone ever will again. If your hope is to go beyond the Barnes & Noble adventure section the Rubicon is the best buy in or near the showroom.
The 2011 Jeep Wrangler is still powered by a 3.8-liter V6; this despite the majority of Chrysler Corporation products now enjoying a much more modern 3.6-liter engine. Not only is this incumbent powerplant less powerful than the 3.6 - it's substantially thirstier, as well. With that, we'll admit that its torque - 237 pound-feet - is perfectly adequate for both off-roading and accelerating up to traffic speed. The power is distributed through one of two part-time four-wheel-drive systems, either of which offers a two-speed transfer case. In terms of drivetrain and suspension, the best Jeep of the bunch is the aforementioned Rubicon, where everything is beefier - and its overall capability is beastier. If you're opting for a Jeep, get as much "Jeep" as you can afford.
202 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
237 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/19 (4WD, manual), 15/19 (4WD, automatic)
By dew on Friday, December 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,900overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Engine"
Cons: "Needs a metal oil filter housing or spin on filter"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Todays Jeep Wrangler has to do more than ever before. It goes down the highway at 70 all day long with ease with the 285 HP it tows my trailer loaded with my atv and camping gear. It Plows through snow, rain, muddy roads, Over small obstacles with ease. And it looks GREAT. I opted for the 6 speed manual and three piece hardtop. The ride is smooth and the fuel economy is awesome. My 07 Rubicon only pulled 14MPH but with the new 3.6Ltr I can get 25 MPH when I baby it back and forth to work. I have the 3.21 gears and 225/75/16 stock tires this puts going 70 at only 2000RPM. And at 55 in 6th gear it just cruises. Id give this wonderful version of the Jeep Wrangler a 9.9 of 10. I simply love it and hope to heck they keep the manual transmission available. I LOVE rowing through the gears."
By jkoffroader on Wednesday, December 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, comfortable, off-roading"
Cons: "Not cheap!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned Wranglers for 7+ years now and I have to say my 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the best one yet. It's very comfortable and I love to power of the 3.5l pentastar engine. I really like the 430N stereo--easy to use and the navigation is garmin based. Yes Jeeps are expensive but they hold their value really well. When I traded my 2013 in, I got almost what I paid for it new. It's a great vehicle and you will not be disappointed one bit."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Dark angel on Sunday, November 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,900overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks great inside and out, good price"
Cons: "Not a city or highway ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Best looking Jeep ever, inside and out. That being said? Wish the 4.0 was back or I'd waited for the 3.6. The ongoing leaking roof that took the better part of 2 years to fix with multiple visits was my only major turn off. I expect to bail water in a boat, not in my vehicle. I'm a Jeep fan, especially liked seeing 98% American made, a huge selling point. That alone would keep me buying Jeeps. That it looks good doesn't, hurt either."
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Greg on Saturday, November 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "4 doors, good stereo, better door handles, comfort"
Cons: "everything else. TJ is a much better value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This vehicle is a pavement pounder plain and simple. It has all the fancy gadgets and performance mods that make it perform great off-road, but overall it is built very fragile. There are also several little things that could have been designed better. There is a gap between the front fenders and bumper, and when rocks get caught in tire tread it bounces off the bumper and goes flying up to hit the windshield. Mine is already cracked from this. Jeep designed this thing for comfort, not to be the most capable factory available off-road vehicle. The roof leaks and has since it was new. There is no side protection beyond the fenders, so rocks fly up the sides and chip the paint. It is over 1000 pounds heavier than the TJ. The only things that were improved is the comfort, stereo system, the door handles, and having 4 doors. Not worth the extra $14,000."
2 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Randy on Friday, November 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "All around, any season Vehicle.."
Cons: "small cargo area.."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"In a Harsh Climate like Northern Minnesota the Jeep Wrangler shines bright.. I've Driven through deep Snow ,-40 below Zero temperatures, and the Jeep's never failed me..And yes I'd Buy another one...."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By dizzy on Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "needs spacer in front, Soft top is very complex."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My jeep is really fun to drive, a little noisy, because the tops are not insulated, and the off road tires are lowd. Has more power than you need, easy to manuvere and handle. Interior is excellent, but for off road use don't get black leather, it is very hard to keep clean. You need to level the front of the jeeps, with a spacer, this makes them look better. I do get a little drift when driving slow speeds, but nothing bad. Off road incredible performance. Can't carry large items, because the back seats don't fold down far enough. Over all it is a great fun to drive and own vehicle."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful