Last chance to buy: Jeep Wrangler

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Specifications

Launched: 1993
Engine sizes: 2.5 and 4 litres
Performance: (4.0) top speed 108mph; 0-60mph 9.9 seconds
Economy: 21.7mpg
Safety: NCAP, n/a

When's it going?

There's a new Jeep Wrangler range this summer with an all-new two-door Jeep Wrangler and long-wheelbase four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. According to Jeep it will have much better road manners, reduced noise levels, a host of safety features and an all-new interior with space for five adults and their luggage. But hey, what's wrong with the old, uncomfortable unsafe one?



What's good about it?

Off-road icons don't come much more iconic than the all-American Jeep. After all, they invented the small, practical; fun and four wheel drive concept back in 1941. Mind you, it had a serious job to do then, keeping the infantry mobile and helping win the Second World War. So rather than taking the easy option and putting a common old Land Rover, or Far Eastern 4x4 on your drive, why not go for a classic slice of American 4x4 legend? It could fit right in with your off-road lifestyle, if you like that sort of thing. Off road it performs as it should, with style and class. There isn't much it can't handle.

Surprisingly, the Wrangler is a comfortable enough vehicle for two. There is an easy-clean interior and the seats are fine. Those after a turn of speed won't be disappointed by the 4-litre version, which gets to 60 mph in just over eight seconds.

What's bad about it?

Quite a lot if you don't fall for the off-road charm and heritage of it all. For a start there isn't a huge amount that is fitted as standard, especially as safety and security kit have never been that great. Also the soft top has always been fiddly to remove, so you might as well leave it up all the time or buy the hardtop to save the bother.

The on-road manners are only really adequate, it is dicey in the wet and feels crude and unrefined at the best of times. However, you get the impression that buyers know this already and aren't actually in the market for a modern soft-roader.

The Wrangler is fairly typical 4x4 on the road. That means it leans, though not dangerously, on bends and is relatively firm. The power is best used in a straight line and most drivers would never want to get near its 125mph top speed unless they loved wind noise. Here is a fun 4x4 perhaps, but there is nothing funny about the servicing costs which are virtually the same as for the much more useful Cherokee.

Fuel economy is on the poor side. The powerful 4-litre returns only 23mpg at best. Resale value was always fair, but not outstanding, so buying one for short-term fun would be plain silly.



How much?

The Wrangler is not really a hugely popular buy so it has always been possible to get money off, at least £1,000, but the pre-registered models are around in numbers at the Jeep dealers. Plenty, including Kings Chrysler Jeep (0191 226 7411) and Charles Hurst (0808 144 4044), could both supply 4.0 Sport and special edition Jamboree models registered in 2007 with under 1,000 miles for £12,950. That's down from the official asking price of £16,150 for the soft top.

Any snags?

There have only been a few recalls, referring to fuel and ignition concerns. Components are unstressed so the engines and gearboxes go on forever.

You might not get a lot in the way of traditional stamped-up service-book sense, but it would be nice to know how the Jeep has been used.

Plenty come from enthusiasts who know how to treat the vehicles correctly. However, be aware that plenty more Jeep Wranglers have been bought as cheap, rugged workhorses.

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