MPG-o-Matic Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Review Summary:
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 was built to travel the road less taken. The four-door Unlimited provides a unique combination of features: plenty of room for crew and cargo, time-honored four-wheel-drive capabilities, and strong resale values. While not one for poseurs, the Wrangler Unlimited is the only four-door convertible on the market.
The four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 is fitted with a 3.8-liter V6 engine that can be mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The Wrangler’s V6 produces 202 horsepower (HP) and 237 foot pounds of torque.
The EPA’s fuel economy estimates for the 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4×4 are 15 city / 19 highway miles per gallon (MPG) with both the manual and automatic transmissions. (The 2WD Sport 4×2 and Sahara 4×2 are rated slightly higher, at 15/20)
We put more than five hundred miles on the odometer of our automatic-equipped Red Rock Crystal Pearl review unit over a range of terrain and were able to squeak past the official mileage estimates with an average of 22.1 MPG on the Interstate highway and 17.9 MPG combined.
Interstate Mileage Testing:
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 21.2 MPG
Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 23.1 MPG
Overall test period temperatures ranged from the mid-fifties through the low eighties, with Interstate highway testing temperatures in the sixties. Highway tests were performed with the removable top on the vehicle.
The Wrangler’s 3.8-liter engine runs on regular unleaded fuel. The 22.5 gallon capacity gas tank provides a good amount of range.
There’s no mistaking the Wrangler for a speed demon, as it takes a leisurely trot up to highway speeds.
We had the opportunity to run our test unit through a variety of conditions, including miles upon miles of sand roads crisscrossing Wharton State Forest in the heart of the Jersey Pinelands. We found the Wrangler Unlimited to be most at home when off the beaten path. While the highway ride is smooth, it can be a bit bouncy in-town.
Although the Wrangler includes an average fuel economy display as standard equipment, it lacks a real-time fuel economy gauge. We used an aftermarket AutoMeter EcoMeter throughout testing in order to achieve higher fuel efficiency through light-footed driving.
The Wrangler Unlimited rides on a 116-inch wheelbase that’s stretched 20.6-inches over the standard Wrangler. This allows for a generous amount of passenger room and cargo capacity. 46.4 cubic feet of cargo space is available when the 60/40 rear seats are up and a whopping 83 cubic feet of space is available when the rear seats are down. Underfloor storage provides additional space to store items away from prying eyes.
Rear seating is designed to accommodate three, with plenty of leg and headroom.
A subwoofer-equipped 368-watt 7-speaker Infinity sound system is standard in the Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. Our test unit was fitted with the optional Uconnect Navigation and audio system, which includes a 30 gigabyte hard disk drive (HDD) for music storage.
While there are both USB and audio input jacks, USB performance is limited. The system does not work directly with iPod menus and cannot play music downloaded from the iTunes Store unless converted to MP3 format (or run through the audio input jack). Music files can be downloaded to the HDD from USB devices or ripped from audio CDs.
The look may be retro, but the modern conveniences are covered. True to Jeep tradition, the doors are removable, even though they include power windows and locks. There are two power outlets at the base of the dash. While our test unit was not equipped with it, a Bluetooth option is available. Although we’ve gotten a bit lost in the Pinelands in previous outings, off-roading with a satellite navigation system on-board is like having a little bird on your shoulder.
Make no mistake about it … this is a serious four-wheeler, not a fashion accessory. Four wheel disc brakes, a Dana 44 heavy duty rear axle, skid plates (for the transfer case and fuel tank), Command-Trac Shift-on-the-fly 4WD, and Hill Assist are standard, along with two front two hooks and one rear tow hook. The Wrangler Unlimited rides on 18 x 7.5 inch machined cast aluminum wheels shod with P225/70R18 On-/Off-Road Tires. A full size spare is standard issue.
The Wrangler Unlimited comes standard with Jeep’s Sunrider soft top. We highly recommend adding a hard top. The optional three-piece modular Freedom hard top includes a rear window wiper/defroster and is reasonably priced. One person can easily remove or install the front sections of the Freedom top.
All-in-all, the Jeep Wranger Sahara Unlimited 4×4 continues to fill a unique niche by delivering dependable off-road performance, in-cabin technology, iconic design, and open air motoring, along with plenty of cargo capacity and passenger space. If you want to get there with four doors and an open roof, the Wrangler Unlimited is the only game in or out of town.
Curb Weight: 4,269 pounds – manual, 4,294 – automatic.
Final Assembly Point: Toledo, Ohio
Country of Origin: Engine – United States, Transmission – United States
U.S/Canadian Parts Content: 57%
- by Daniel Gray
October 24th, 2009
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