For the first time, Jeep's authorized local distributor, Auto Nation Group, is finally offering a Wrangler variant that costs just below P2 million. The Wrangler Unlimited Sport, at P1.99 million, is finally within reach of buyers who want more than the usual SUVs.
One look at it and you know the Wrangler means business, its black fender flares and visible body-on frame design egging you to take it off-road—stepboards be damned if it means sacrificing the vehicle's 220mm ground clearance. The absence of mud flaps does mean you're likely to get the body shell and the exterior door handles muddied, while the lack of grab handles make getting on board a chore. In addition, the narrow cut of the rear doors could make ingress a difficult task for the less limber.
Once you're inside, it becomes evident that the Wrangler is ready to take off its three-piece Freedom Top hardtop anytime and anywhere—provided you've brought along the complimentary removal kit—because it doesn't have any insulation whatsoever. The power-window switches are on the center console between the A/C vents up front, and at the back of the center console box. The speakers of the Uconnect 135 audio system are on top of the dashboard and in the overhead sound bar attached to the factory-installed roll cage. Also, while the Jeep comes with a carpeted floor, it's removable and has drain plugs for a wash-out interior.
Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 resides under the hood and is paired to a five-speed automatic transmission with manually selectable gears. Off-road, the mill proves more than capable of pulling the Wrangler's 2,540kg mass in mud and over rocks. In Metro Manila traffic, though, the Jeep's built-in fuel consumption meter told us that the best we could do was 3km/L. Bummer.
On tarmac, the Wrangler's steering feels languid especially after you make a turn, because the wheel doesn't return to the center as quickly like in most cars. Then again, the Wrangler isn't like most cars. The solid-axle front and rear suspension feels firm. On the downside, throttle response feels sluggish, particularly from a standing start.
Minor nitpicking aside, the Wrangler 'suffers' from these because it's really meant to go off the beaten path. If you want to be coddled on the road, you're better off in a Chrysler 300C. But if your kind of weekend fun—or your day-today business, for that matter—requires you to climb mountains or ford streams, then the Jeep's 'failings' are needed.
There's no other vehicle on the market for you right now that does what the Wrangler Sport Unlimited can, for less than P2 million.
Or is there?
SPECS: JEEP WRANGLER UNLIMITED SPORT
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Power: 284hp @ 6,350rpm
Torque: 346Nm @ 4,300rpm
UP NEXT: Toyota FJ Cruiser