2016 Jeep Wrangler Comfort & Quality

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Comfort & Quality

There are essentially two different packages for the 2016 Jeep Wrangler; it's offered either as a four-door Unlimited, or the more recognizable two-door model—no, it's not the Limited, just the Wrangler.

In both cases, you get two rows of seating; but in the Wrangler Unlimited is 20.6 inches longer, giving it more cargo space and rear leg room than the two-door version.

Noise levels are better, and the cockpit is more comfortable than you might expect; but keep in mind it's Jeep's most rugged model.

The back of the Wrangler Unlimited is spacious enough for adults, and the seats are bolstered enough for long hauls, or off-roading duty. The 116-inch wheelbase of the Wrangler Unlimited helps the SUV feel spacious and capable in equal turns.

The new Wrangler is more refined now, and it's a dramatic transformation. The Wrangler has shed its cheap, plastic roots in favor of a modern instrument panel that is curvy and upright, with soft-touch materials in a few, key ares. Don't be fooled: Even the new Wranglers can be hosed down after a raucous ride outside.

A few years back, Jeep upgraded the Wrangler's interior pieces to make it feel more like a proper road-going SUV and a little less like something out of a military fleet. While that remake still holds up well, some of those charming, old school nuances remain—for better or worse—like the exterior-hinged doors that are stopped only by a pull-strap. Manual-transmission models don't offer a foot rest on the far left, but the pedals are far enough apart to allow shifting with larger shoes or boots. The Wrangler also remains the only the vehicle on the market today with a windshield that can fold forward and out of the way.

Cargo space is quite generous in the Unlimited, and acceptable in two-door models. The rear seat can be folded down, but it doesn't create a flat load floor when collapsed. It can also be removed entirely for large items. Access to the rear is via a swing-out tailgate and either a top-hinged glass panel or zippered plastic rear window—or neither if the top is completely removed.

Over the past couple of years Jeep has introduced a host of improvements to cut noise and vibration, and anyone with experience in older models will find the new Wrangler far quieter inside. It's more tolerable for commuters than it used to be, for sure. There's a little more gear whine and road noise if you opt for the manual transmission, but considering the sharp-edged exterior there's not all that much wind noise, even at 70 mph.

But again, this is all relative. Newbies to Jeep's tougher side will find the Wrangler quite noisy and hard-riding; and ride quality itself is still not one of the Wrangler's more charming features. There are plenty of secondary motions, so you're always well aware of the road surface. This is one of the few vehicles (other than heavy-duty pickups) that still offers a live front axle; larger bumps met mid-corner, for instance, sometimes produce a full-frontal shudder.

Keep in mind that two-door Wrangler models are slightly bouncier because of their shorter wheelbase.

The removable tops are one of Jeep's best features; though easily penetrated by road and wind noise, they can completely open the cabin, making the Wrangler a true convertible SUV. Fans of T-tops will like the Freedom hardtop, which has removable roof panels for a semi-open-air experience that requires less futzing. Jeep has improved its soft-top design in recent years, making it much easier to use, but it's still a complex, multi-hand operation.

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