Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Change Reflects Heritage

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Change Reflects Heritage

Article excerpt

THE Jeep Wrangler hasn't altered much in appearance over the years but it is constantly evolving, writes Toby Hagon.

Over the past decade a lot has changed in the four-wheel-drive (or SUV) market but the Jeep Wrangler isn't one of them.

OK, so the core of the Jeep range scored an extra two doors and more than half-a-metre in length in 2007 for the Unlimited but the basic familiar design and rugged premise of the chunky Wrangler is similar to what it's been since the Willys was enlisted in the US Army in the 1940s.

The rough and ready Wrangler continues with its military-inspired styling, though it's constantly evolving. Owners often take the look into their own hands with bigger wheels and tyres, various extras and plenty of chrome bling.

An update earlier this year added a new dashboard with bold, circular air vents, revised switches and dials and a asince 1941a badge stamped on the passenger grab handle.

The interior is a step up, though it's still not as practical as most SUVs. Storage compartments are light on (even the glovebox is small), while the auto gear lever can accidentally be tipped with the driver's knee. Getting into the compact boot is a pain, too, thanks to the immovable roof that allows only a slim slot to stoop into.

Even getting into the front requires some flexibility. The lip on the high floor means you have to leap into the cabin.

The Wrangler is one of those cars where less is more; exposed bolts contribute to the utilitarian feel of the cabin, although the speakers in the roof are a neat touch. These days the Wrangler comes with electric windows, tyre-pressure monitors, cruise control and even a stability-control system.

Its removable roof panels and a windscreen that folds down on to the bonnet are features that don't usually rank on lists of standard equipment.

Disappointingly, there are only two front airbags, with optional side airbags costing $450. Under the bonnet there's the choice of two engines; a 3.8-litre V6 (146kW, 315Nm) or recently revised 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (147kW, 410Nm for the manual and 460Nm for the auto).

With the auto transmission most owners choose, the diesel is a hefty $5000 more than the petrol, though it brings claimed fuel savings; 8. …

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