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PERFORMANCE | 5 out of 10
enhanced rock-crawling capabilities
performs well off road
if the Wrangler can't get you there, you're going to need a Sherpa or a helicopter
The performance of the 2008 Jeep Wrangler maintains its history of being a toy for the outdoors, which translates into a bumpy highway ride and middling V-6 power.
“This is no commuter car,” Motor Trend warns, even though it “has the most horsepower to date” in a Wrangler. Jeep has kept it true to its off-road mission: “The Wrangler shows it wasn't designed for quick acceleration,” Cars.com says, but “even though it only makes 202 horsepower, the Jeep's 3.8-liter V-6 was plenty powerful for highway driving,” they add. Edmunds, however, believes it is better used as an off-road machine, and states that, for city driving, it has "mediocre acceleration."
Edmunds notes, “the V6 is connected to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic.” Cars.com notes “the six-speed manual rowed the gears in precise, if clunky, fashion.” Automobile points out the “lack of an optional five-speed automatic.” Two-door Wranglers have standard four-wheel drive; one version of the four-door comes in rear-drive form.
As MyRide.com says, the 2008 Jeep Wrangler is "more suited for rolling over boulders than speed bumps." With 10.2 inches of ground clearance, this is exactly what this SUV was built for. In terms of handling, however, the difference in doors can give the Jeep Wrangler a markedly better ride. The longer-wheelbase four-door Wrangler Jeep seems much more settled on the highway, according to reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com. However, “the ride is still stiff, and on the road the Wrangler's modest handling and acceleration abilities can actually be bested by most minivans,” Edmunds reports. “Now when you're in the new Wrangler,” Automobile reports, “you feel like you're driving a real vehicle rather than piloting a small farm tractor.” USAToday agrees with other reviewers that people who want a practical, everyday SUV shouldn't go with the Jeep--2008 Wranglers are "for the stump jumper who's a Wrangler fan."
The off-road Wrangler Jeep is even less happy on-road, but for hardcore off-roaders, the Wrangler Rubicon is a trail dream. With “heavy-duty axles, extra-low gearing and electronically locking front and rear differentials,” as Edmunds notes, the 2008 Jeep Wrangler is "pretty much unstoppable in off-road situations" and "if the Wrangler can't get you there, you're going to need a Sherpa or a helicopter."
Even though the 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has better highway handling than the two-door version, Jeeps are still meant for the rough and tough, not the daily commute.