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 Baseball Dad (TN) on Thursday, May 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun, sturdy, reliable, and looks great."
Cons: "You'll get tired of smiling."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We bought our Jeep Wrangler Unlimited as our third car. We've wanted a Jeep Wrangler for a long time, but with two boys in sports we needed more room for equipment. The four door with the trunk was perfect. We take the top down in April every year and leave it down until around November (park it in the garage for rainy days). It drives surprisingly well and has a ton of power. We are in our second year of ownership and smile ear to ear every time we pull out of the driveway, whether it is to a baseball tournament, football practice, or a run to a store or to eat. I've owned four other Jeeps (Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Liberty) and once again we are very pleased. Reliable and solid, plus it looks great. I would highly recommend. The only reason I didn't rate value as a "10" is the up front cost is high due to resale value being so high."
By John (CA) on Thursday, May 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to Drive, Easy to remove hard top,"
Cons: "Wish the stereo was louder"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Special ordered a 2013 and couldn't be happier. It is exactly what I wanted. It's fun to drive around town, take the top off and enjoy the sun. The removable hardtop is the way to go. It's easy to use, a lot less wind noise then the soft top and it's 100% waterproof. The Jeep has been flawless and most of all, it's fun to drive."
By Reza (MD) on Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks and name"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Purchased a brand new wrangler and i was super excited, how ever i did not do my research, special ordered.... it has been a nightmare. The car has been in the dealer shop over 10 times and they can not fix any of the problems. Currently doing a Lemon Law against chrysler. WATER LEAK WATER LEAK WATER LEAK... leaks on the floors(always wet when it rains) Manual transmissions pops out of gear, Trac Control comes on randomly, Cruise control would not work unless i pull over and restart the car, clock is slow, death wobbles, random noise as if something is loose, soft top does not open and close properly, the car is underpowered all the time, very weak and always have to downshift or else you will not have any power. It is a GAS GUZZLER $$$ Please don't waste your $30k+ on a car like this. I will never purchase a chrysler product again. DO YOUR RESEARCH, just search lemon law on jeep wrangler on google and you will see others with these exact same problem. This car has been a nightmare."
9 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Shane (CA) on Monday, April 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 101,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very dependable, fun to drive in all weather condi"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have put over 100,000 miles on my jeep the only thing I have had it to dealership for is scheduled maint. and one electronic sway bar disconnect servo which was under warranty."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Tim (KY) on Saturday, March 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "holds its value"
Cons: "no room in the back for passengers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Mine has 84000 miles on it and never had any problems. This is my first jeep and I do love it. The back is useless though because it to hard to get anyone in or out. Although my 12 yr. old loves it. I think my jeep rides better off road than on pavement. over all I give my jeep a 9.5."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Andrew (WV) on Sunday, February 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 104,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I purchased my Jeep in 2008. I was towed in for the first time by 1,700 miles. towed in 3 more times the first year. All service repairs were for something different. One problem is the low tire pressure light at on point the dealer told me to cover the light up with tape. The gas cap light is also on. The jeep since new the top has leaked water in 3 different places. The engine has always used oil. The seal in the rear end has been replace 3 times and currently leaks. Also the transmission lines currently leak and have been changed twice. Many recalls have been made. Some as recent as Nov 2012"
15 people out of 27 found this review helpful