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PERFORMANCE | 5 out of 10
performs well off road
This is no commuter car
Jeep's 3.8-liter V-6 was plenty powerful for highway driving
the six-speed manual rowed the gears in precise, if clunky, fashion
The 3.8-liter V-6 engine produces 202 horsepower and comes with a choice of either manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. Fuel economy on rear-drive, manual-transmission models is as high as 16 mpg city, 21 highway, which is good for the Wrangler lineup but not particularly economical.
The engine feels strong, but it still makes more noise than you might expect of a traditional SUV. While the Jeep excels off-road, the Wrangler can have a jittery, bouncy ride with plenty of road noise and imprecise steering on the highway.
“This is no commuter car,” Motor Trend warns, even though it “has the most horsepower to date” in a Wrangler. Jeep keeps 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." Two-door Wranglers have standard four-wheel drive; one version of the four-door comes in rear-drive form.
Edmunds notes “the V6 is connected to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic.” Cars.com observes “the six-speed manual rowed the gears in precise, if clunky, fashion.” Automobile Magazine points out the “lack of an optional five-speed automatic.”
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 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.
The 2010 Jeep Wrangler is unhappy on-road, but for hard-core off-roaders, the Wrangler is a trail dream. With “heavy-duty axles, extra-low gearing and electronically locking front and rear differentials,” as Edmunds notes, the 2010 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."
As MyRide.com says, the 2010 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 is built for. In terms of handling, however, the difference in the number of 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 Magazine asserts, “you feel like you're driving a real vehicle rather than piloting a small farm tractor.” USA Today agrees with other reviewers that people who want a practical, everyday SUV shouldn't go with the Jeep—2010 Wranglers are "for the stump jumper who's a Wrangler fan."
The 2010 Jeep Wrangler performs just well enough for everyday commuting, but off-road is where it belongs.