If you’ve grown as tired of your typical sedan as I have, it might be time to visit your Jeep Wrangler dealer in Miami and challenge the norm in a new 2016 Jeep Wrangler. Sure, the Jeep brand has earned its iconic stature in the automotive world for its history and determined evolution.
But even more than that, while Jeep stands the test of time, many of its competitors do not, which leaves the Wrangler in a class by itself, and a cut above when it comes to performance, dependability, and possibilities. With the comparably priced Toyota FJ Cruiser and Nissan’s Xterra relegated to the discontinued realm, the Wrangler remains the one and only name associated with affordable all-terrain adventure.
This is the only SUV that lets you get up close and personal with the elements, while also allowing you to blaze new roads and push the limits of “off-the-beaten-path.” Fangirl gushing aside, what does the 2016 Jeep Wrangler have to offer?
More than its unassuming appearance would have you believe…
The Muscle Needed for Extreme Maneuvers
This two-door compact SUV packs more punch than you might expect – and it needs to when you consider the paces some drivers put it through on off-road excursions and trail tests.
Outfitted with one drivetrain – and one is enough – the 2016 Wrangler is equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine, powered by the muscle of 285 horses and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Standard operation comes from a standard six-speed manual, complete with hill start assist or the available five-speed automatic, which offers hill start assist and hill descent control. Other standard fare includes four well drive, complemented by both high and low-range gearing. Maximum towing capacity is measured at 2,000 pounds, good enough to tow an eighteen-foot boat for fishing trips or ocean escapes.
According to performance testing done by Edmunds, the 2016 Wrangler, configured with the manual transmission, returns some impressive acceleration, measured at 6.9 seconds from zero to sixty mph.
Expect EPA-estimated fuel efficiency from both the manual and automatic setup measured at 17 city, 21 highway, and 18 mpg combined.
Now that you’ve got the brass tacks of the Wrangler’s build, it’s time to choose which one trim level is ideal for your driving needs. And this is where the decision gets difficult…
Choose Your Jeep Identity: Sport, Sahara, or Rubicon
Of the three main Jeep trim levels, the entry-level Sport, mid-range Sahara, or high-end Rubicon, you’ll have plenty to consider with respect to features, available packages, and options. Although the signature soft top, vinyl convertible roof is the standard – and signature look, drivers can opt to replace it with a hardtop version, built with removable panels located above the driver and front passenger seats.
Starting with the Sport, expect the basics and not much more. But, for those of us eager to reclaim a bit of the outdoors and commune with nature, the basics are all we need. Features marking the Sport include:
- on and off road tires
- 16-inch steel wheels
- one full-size spare tire
- fog lamps
- tow hooks
- skid plate
- fold-down windshield
- removable doors
- manual locks and mirrors
- cruise control
- metal doors with crank-operated windows
- tilt-only steering wheel
- cloth upholstery
- height-adjustable driver’s seat
- fold and forward-tumble rear seat
- CD player
- eight-speaker stereo system
- auxiliary audio jack
All little too basic for your liking? No problem – just upgrade the Sport with the available Power Convenience Group and treat yourself to keyless entry, power locks and windows, heated power mirrors, automatic-dimming mirror, and security system. In addition, you can check out the exclusive to Wrangler (Unlimited is excluded here) Sport S package, which affords creature comforts like air conditioning, leather covered steering wheel, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Extra bells and wheels exist in the form of the available satellite radio, infotainment Uconnect 430 touchscreen display, USB port, and heated seats up front.
Moving to the mid-level of the trim range, the Sahara gets you everything promised by the Power Convenience Group, and the Sport S package (but replaces the 17-inch alloys with 18-inchers) and makes it even better with automatic headlamps, extra insulation under the hood, and a few more painted panels and trim on the exterior.
At the pinnacle of the Wrangler trims, behold the Rubicon. The ultimate in all-terrain adventure-seeking. Take the Sport and add durable Dana 44 front and rear axles, a 4.10 rear axle ratio (available feature with automatic transmission) enhanced transfer case and lower crawl ratio, electronically disconnecting front sway bar, automatic headlamps, extra insulation under the hood, and 32-inch tires wrapped around 17-inch alloy wheels, and you’ve almost got the Rubicon.
Add a leather covered steering wheel and matching shifter, 115-volt outlet, coat hooks, satellite radio, and air-conditioning and you’ve got the Rubicon – inside and out.
Of course, the Power Convenience Group remains optional for the Rubicon, too, and all trim levels are eligible for further enhancements from the Connectivity Group, which delivers Bluetooth capabilities, enhanced Uconnect 430 display, 28 GB of digital music storage, trip computer, navigation, and tire pressure monitoring. Also, a nine-speaker Alpine entertainment system is a stand-alone option for each Wrangler trim.
Special editions based off the Sport or Rubicon, designed for even more extreme off-roading and unique badging, exist as the Willys Wheeler, Freedom Edition, Black Bear Edition, and Rubicon Hard Rock.
The Inside Scoop
Remember the goal of getting back to nature? Well, the interior of the Wrangler, no matter which trim level you choose, represents getting back to basics. But, isn’t that a good thing? This is why the Wrangler puts the fun back in driving. You actually have to drive – nothing is automated or autonomous. You’re in charge and the result, especially from the manual transmission, is an engaging ride.
When it comes to space – again, less is more. The cargo hold measures 12.8 cubic feet (not unlike a typical trunk) when the backseats are up. Folded down, you get a total of 55.8 cubic feet. Just enough to bring along the bare necessities.
Of course, the available packages and special editions offer their own exterior enhancements with unique visual cues via badging and graphic designs. But, for the 2016 model year, all Wranglers are treated to an extended color palette, which now includes:
* Billet Silver Metallic
* Black Clearcoat
* Bright White Clearcoat
* Firecracker Red Clearcoat
* Granite Crystal Metallic Clearcoat
* Hydro Blue Pearlcoat
* Mojave Sand Clearcoat
* Rhino Clearcoat
* Sarge Green
* Tank Clearcoat
* Xtreme Purple Pearl Coat
And on the inside, any of the three available interior options – Black, Dark Olive/Black, or Dark Saddle/Black, complement whichever exterior shade you choose.
A Word About Safety
Although Jeeps are celebrated for fun and performance more than safety, the 2016 Jeep Wrangler models are all backed by standard safety components like front airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, and options like front side airbags. As Jeep continues to refine the Wrangler, it is making progress with respect to safety ratings. Although the government has yet to test the Wrangler’s safety results, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2016 Wrangler its highest mark of “Good” in moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact tests.
Priced to start at the MSRP of $ 23,895, the 2016 Jeep Wrangler is an affordable way to break free of your sedan and “Go Anywhere, Do Anything.”