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The car experts at TheCarConnection.com studied a wide range of road tests (and off-road tests) of the 2008 Jeep Wrangler to compile this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com’s resident off-roaders also drove the new Wrangler to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, and to add more impressions and details and provide you with the best information.
It's an American icon--and this year, the 2008 Jeep Wrangler returns in two- and four-door forms, with a choice of soft and hardtops, rear- and four-wheel drive.
The 2008 Jeep Wrangler's sole engine is a 3.8-liter, 202-horsepower V-6 engine. The V-6 comes with either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy on rear-drive, manual-transmission models is as high as 16/21 mpg, which is good for the Wrangler lineup but not particularly economical. The engine feels stronger than any Jeep before, but it still makes more noise than you might expect if you're coming from a more traditional SUV.
When the new Wrangler arrived in 2007, it brought a four-door, extended-wheelbase Unlimited model to the lineup, a Wrangler first. Also, Jeep added a new three-piece Freedom Top hardtop that's easier to manage than the former one-piece design. The two-doors still offer a hardtop as well as a Sunrider soft top with a front portion that folds back without having to be completely stowed. The removable tops are one of the best features of the Jeep--though they allow lots of road noise in the cabin, they can completely open the cabin of both the two- and four-door models, turning the 2008 Jeep Wrangler into a convertible SUV.
Off-roading toughness of both Jeeps is assured by live axle front and rear suspensions, with 10.2 inches of ground clearance and the availability of a heavy-duty four-wheel-drive system with heavy-duty axles, locking differentials, Rock-Trac transfer case with extra-low gearing, electronically disconnecting stabilizer bar, and knobby BF Goodrich tires on Rubicon versions. There are few places you can't get to in a Jeep.
On the highway, the off-road capability translates into a jittery, bouncy ride with plenty of road noise and imprecise steering. It's far better than before, and it's simply a part of the experience of owning a Jeep that tends to wear thin the older you (and the Wrangler) get.
Though the classic lines remain, the Wrangler is just a year old in its current form. New for 2007, the current Wrangler is larger (and wider) than the previous model. It also has more interior room. The front seats are fine for short trips but lack the support needed for long journeys. The backseats in the Unlimited model don't have enough legroom for adults, but kids probably won't object. The cabin is made from rugged and durable materials, so don't expect a runway experience, unless the runway you have in mind is O'Hare.
Anti-lock brakes and stability control are now standard, with side impact airbags available optionally. The 2008 Jeep Wrangler scores five-star ratings for front and side impact protection. Two-wheel-drive models have four-star rollover protection, while four-wheel drivers have a three-star rating.
Tire pressure monitors are now standard on both short- and long-wheelbase Wranglers, and remote start is a new option for 2008. Air conditioning and cruise control are standard on most models, and Sirius Satellite Radio is an option, as is a navigation system and a music hard drive.
- Freedom Top
- Off-road performance
- Less noisy than before
- Handles better, too
- Crash performance
- Still noisy
- Still bouncy
- On-road handling
- Uncomfortable rear seats