On rocks, the new Wrangler is just as capable as its TJ predecessor, though its added widt
Profiled in our June '06 issue, the Wrangler Unlimited shares the same basic underpinnings as the two-door JK. Its main differences are that it's 20 inches longer, 200 pounds heaver, and has two more doors (and obviously, a lot more rear cargo space) than the JK. Our test Unlimited-also a Rubicon model-sported the 42RLE four-speed automatic transmission, and after spending half a day with it, we think it's a better match for the V-6 than the manual. Acceleration, while not neck-snapping, was adequate to get the 4,300-pound Jeep up to highway speeds, and any gear-binding or converter lag that may have occurred between shifts escaped our notice-which, to our minds, is how an automatic is supposed to behave. One testdriver felt that the new, stiffer chassis tuning resulted in a "punishing" pavement ride, but it didn't seem bad at all to us, considering the less-than-optimal road conditions we encountered in rural Zambia. At road speeds, the Jeep did seem prone to slight understeer-which we chalked up to the effects of 32-inch mud tires aired down to 20 psi-but overall road feel and directional stability are light-years ahead of anything we've experienced in any previous Wrangler.
On the trail, the Unlimited has its strengths and its weaknesses. With its longer (116-inch) wheelbase and still-outstanding (44-degree) approach angle, it could simply straddle steep berms, or idle up long slopes of slickrock, that would've required more juice (or steering correction) from the shorter JK. On rocky and narrow trails, however, the Unlimited was more likely to high-center, and required more frequent backing and filling to navigate through turns. Big fans of automatics that we are, we loved the extra throttle control (and left-foot braking) we gained by not having to baby a clutch, though on steep descents, we found ourselves applying more slow-pedal than we'd have liked and sometimes wishing for the lower gearing and better compression braking that comes with the stick. Even so, the automatic Unlimited's 46:1 crawl gear is plenty suitable for every day 'wheeling, and if we were looking to buy one (and we weren't swapping engines), we'd likely take the gearing penalty for the convenience of the slushbox.
On We don't have an official fording depth for the JK or Unlimited, but we can tell you fr
One area deserving of praise on both Jeeps is the interior. We're not sure if it's due to the extra 2 inches of legroom and shoulder room, the extra sound-deadening materials in the floor, or the newly designed seats and fabrics, but for long-distance drives, the new Wrangler is far and away the most ergo-friendly version of this vehicle that we've ever spent time in. The sore backs, numb butts, and ringing eardrums we'd grown accustomed to from spending long hours glued to the seats of TJs and YJs simply failed to manifest themselves. Our middle-aged glutes are grateful.
The rest of the cockpit has its pluses and minuses: We're not crazy about the location of the power-window controls (on the center stack, by the HVAC controls), but since it's hard to design removable doors if you have to run a bunch of electrical circuits through them, we can live with this. Some of the switchgear-the toggle for the lockers in particular-is not the most intuitive to locate or engage. As mentioned previously, we're less than enamored with the stock ride and doorsill heights, and with trail visibility in general. And with the hardtop in place, rear visibility on the Unlimited isn't very good either-but since the top is removable three ways, you can remedy this to your liking as you go.
We'll have both the JK and Unlimited in our fleet for our 2007 Four Wheeler of the Year test. Both should be serious contenders-we'll have the complete story in our February '07 issue.
With its longer wheelbase, the Unlimited sometimes required more backing and filling-and m
Vehicle model: 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
Base Price: $22,410
Engine Type: 3.8L 60 degree V-6
Bore x stroke (in.): 3.78 x 3.43
Valvetrain: OHV, 2 valves/cyl.
Mfg.'s hp @ rpm: 205 @ 5,200
Mfg.'s torque (lb-ft) @ rpm: 240 @ 4,000
Transmission: 42RLE four-speed automatic OD
Transfer case: NV241 Rock-Trac part-time two-speed
Low range ratio: 4.00:1
Crawl ratio: 46.58:1
Axle ratio: 4.10:1
Suspension (f/r): Solid axle, coil springs, track bar, electronic sway-bar disconnect/Solid axle, coil springs, five-link with track bar, stabilizer bar
Steering: Power recirculating ball
Brakes (f/r): 11.9-inch vented disc/12.44-inch solid rotor
Wheels: 17x7.5 cast aluminum
Tires: LT255/75R17 BFG Mud-Terrains
Wheelbase (in.): 116.0
Length (in.): 173.4
Width (in.): 73.9
Height (in.): 70.9
Track (in.): 61.9
Curb weight (lb.): 4,340
Ground clearance f/r (in.): 10.5/10.1
Approach (deg.): 44.4
Departure (deg.): 40.5
Max towing capacity (lb.): 3,500
Max cargo capacity (cu. ft.): 88.3
Fuel capacity (gal.): 21
EPA mileage estimates (mpg): N/A
Seating capacity: 5