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2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)

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Jeep’s Wrangler gets the reinvention thing down pat for the 2007 model year. And with sharper lines, more open-air options, and claimed better off-road ability, the newest Wrangler should firmly plant Jeep’s flag in new off-road territory once more.

 

The Wrangler for 2007 sports a host of all-news: a new frame, a new body, a new interior, new engines, and new safety features. What hasn’t changed much is the Wrangler’s look. It’s improved, but in the way the Porsche Boxster was updated last year. The overall shape remains the same — iconic — but the lines are more crisp, the characteristics more defined, the seven-slot grille more pronounced.

 

The new Wrangler will be offered in three models — base Wrangler X, Sahara, and Rubicon. All versions share the essentials of a frame that’s 100-percent stiffer to bending, two inches longer in wheelbase, 3.5 inches wider in track, and outfitted with live axles, a fold-down windshield, and removable doors. Ground clearance and approach and departure angles have improved as well, and stouter Dana front and rear axles are standard even on the X and Sahara models, while the Rubicon gets Dana 44 axles and more underbody protection for hardcore off-roading.

 

To enhance the off-road experience, the new Wrangler offers up a pair of four-wheel drive systems: a version of the CommandTrac part-time system that’s featured on some X and Sahara versions, and the RockTrac setup found on the new Rubicon model. Locking diffs for the front and rear come with the Rubicon, and an active sway-bar system allows the Jeep to disconnect its front stabilizer bar for more extreme off-road obstacles.

 

And to give users a better on-road experience, Jeep engineers took the newly reformatted footprint of the Wrangler and scooped out more interior room and dampened the sound more. The Wrangler’s bulked-up body boasts 4.6 inches more hip room and 5.1 inches more in shoulder room up front. In the back, it has an inch more in legroom and about four inches more in shoulder room. It’s no Unlimited but the improvements are a welcome change from the Wrangler’s sometimes-cramped cabin — as is the Ridgeline-like lockable trunk under the cargo floor.

 

The sole power offering in the new Wrangler is a 205-hp 3.8-liter V-6. A six-speed manual gearbox comes standard; a four-speed automatic is an option.

 

Safety and comfort features are light-years away from anything the Jeep’s inventors might have imagined 65 years ago when the war wagon came into being. The Wrangler gains stability control for the first time, along with dual-stage airbags and available seat-mounted side airbags. Anti-lock four-wheel-disc brakes are standard.

 

And maybe most important to sunny-side-up drivers is the Wrangler’s three-panel hard top system. It allows drivers and passengers to decide if they want the sun on their heads or not — and undoubtedly cuts down on noise more than the Wrangler’s available canvas top.

 

The new Wrangler goes on sale in the fall of 2006.

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