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2006 Jeep Wrangler Trims

Rubicon

Avg. Price: $18,129

Only the most capable off-road vehicle could carry the name Rubicon. That is the name of the demanding trail on which most of Jeep's development research is conducted.

It's built just a little bit tougher and equipped a tad more specifically for taking on rocks and ruts and standing water and trees no longer standing. And half the fun for its owner is removing or adding parts to customize it to his needs and preferences.

No matter where a happy tuner has taken his '06 Rubicon, he started out with the same standard equipment as every other buyer. A 4.0-liter, 190-horsepower engine provides the power, and Dana 44 front and rear axles, low-ratio gearing, skid plates, monotube shocks, Tru-Lok locking differential, and a Rock-Trac 4WD transfer case leave it ready for the rocks. (Note that a Wrangler's four-wheel drive mode is meant only for use on wet or loose surfaces, not dry pavement.)

Energy-absorbing foam in the sport bar, windshield trim, and hard top back await a roll, and air bags will protect driver and front passenger in a frontal impact. The 2006 Wrangler earned 4 out of 5 stars in NHTSA rollover and frontal-crash tests.

Air conditioning, alloy wheels and fog lamps were included in standard equipment. Half-steel doors with non-glass windows and full-steel doors with tinted-glass windows were both made available as an option, as was a dual-top package with both soft and hard top.

User reviews reflect a high rate of reliability along with plenty of bragging about the Rubicon's off-pavement prowess. Evidently anyone who plans on doing a lot of off-roading and don't require a plush on-road ride will be thrilled with a Wrangler - as long as they don't mind frequent visits to the gas station.

SE

Avg. Price: $13,746

The lowest-priced Wrangler trim is fairly basic, right down to its vinyl seats, yet it's still Trail Rated and capable of taking on the terrain. Its 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine delivers an unimpressive 147 horsepower, but a 4.0-liter, 190-horsepower engine was made available as well.

Standard equipment on the '06 model included Dana 30 front axle, Dana 35 rear axle, driver and passenger air bags, height-adjustable seatbelts, gas-charged shocks, skid plates, and energy-absorbing foam in crucial areas (the windshield trim, sport bar, and hard top back).

Available options included four-speed automatic transmission, fog lights, mud flaps, tow hooks, air conditioning, and wind deflector. In a somewhat strange arrangement, Jeep only includes the usually ubiquitous cigarette lighter and ashtray in a low-priced Smoker's Package option. Side rails were not available on the SE.

The SE's four-wheel drive is not meant to be used on dry pavement; it should be engaged only when driving on a loose or wet surface.

Sport

Avg. Price: $16,182

Like all other 2006 Wranglers besides the manual-transmission SE, the Sport trim is powered by the 190 horses of a 4.0-liter, V6 and comes with a Quadra-Coil suspension and Command-Trac 4WD transfer case. The standard 6-speed manual transmission not surprisingly can take some getting used to.

Full-steel doors with tinted, roll-up windows came standard, as did air conditioning, air bags, sport bars with energy absorbing foam, fog lamps, and tow hooks. The options list included automatic transmission, ABS, step rails, hard and soft tops, Dana 44 rear axle, 15-inch wheels, security system, and a lockable trunk storage bin. Power locks and windows were not available.

Jeep, of course, has many loyal followers walking the earth repeating the mantra, "it's a Jeep Thing." They love the vehicle's distinct look and legendary capabilities off pavement, and they seem to share a camaraderie, as they celebrate the good taste they have in common by greeting each other on the road. Owners of the Sport praise it for its excellent handling and smooth shifting.

It would be unrealistic for there to be no negatives, though. As such, the Sport trim's EPA rating of 14-15 city and 18-19 highway hasn't impressed anyone, but its owners seem to accept the trade-off for what their Jeep gives them. Also, there is anecdotal evidence of a recurrent problem with the air conditioning drain hose clogging with dust, resulting in water collecting on the vehicle floor when the air is shut off.

Sport Golden Eagle Edtion

An old friend flew back into the Jeep lineup in 2006: the Golden Eagle Edition. Although it was a popular choice in the 1970s and early '80s, it then took a 20-plus-year hiatus.

Featuring gold-colored accents and a motif honoring one of its country's most beautiful native raptors, this edition was built as an upgraded Wrangler Sport, the mid-range trim.

The Sport's stats include a 4.0-liter, 190-horsepower V6, Quadra-Coil suspension, and Command-Trac 4WD transfer case, and a standard 6-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic.

But the Golden Eagle package includes much more: a heavy-duty Dana 44 rear axle, 30-inch off-road tires, two-tone seats with unique Golden Eagle embroidery, an upgraded seven-speaker audio system, a silver center-stack bezel, gas-charged shocks, 15-inch gold-aluminum wheels, and Golden Eagle decals on the exterior (spare-tire cover, hood, and fenders).

The Golden Eagle really is "a Jeep thing," as the sloganeers say, and its buyers are in general a proud and satisfied lot. Still, what makes this trim stand out visually, the exterior decals, was overkill in the eyes of some owners, especially the large eagle on the hood. So they either had their dealership remove some or they did it themselves using a hair dryer and some patience.

Unlimited

Avg. Price: $16,657

The Unlimited shrugs off mortal vehicles' limits not only when it comes to the trails, but also in its combination of sport and utility. It one-ups regular Wranglers with its added length, giving more room for cargo and rear-seat passengers.

The Unlimited distributes its additional 15 inches this way: 13 inches to the cargo area and 2 inches more legroom in the backseat. Its overall look also makes it stand out in the parking lot, garnering more looks and waves and shouts from fellow Jeep aficionados.

A 4.0-liter V6 furnishes the Unlimited with 190 horses, enough to satisfy most buyers. When properly equipped, the Unlimited can tow up to 3500 pounds. The shocks on the 2006 are improved over previous years', resulting in a smoother ride that user reviewers made note of. A Quadra-Coil suspension, Trac-Loc differential, Dana 44 rear axle, tow hooks, skid plates, and Command-Trac 4WD transfer case make it complete and ready to leave pavement far behind. Air conditioning and fog lamps were also standard.

Although it would be another year, at the start of the new generation, before Wranglers contained safety features such as standard-equipment ABS and traction and stability control, the 2006s all had driver and passenger air bags and energy-absorbing foam in the sport bars and windshield trim (as well as the optional hard top).

The Unlimited trims came with a Sunrider soft top, a folding number that can be set up in various positions, including one that mimics a large, open sunroof. A hard top with full-steel doors with tinted-glass windows was made available as an option, as were side step-rails.

Gas mileage only reached a disappointing but not surprising 14 city/18 highway, but most buyers of this vehicle were well aware and accepting of that stat. For them the frequent fill-ups are made worthwhile by the fun they have off-road at playtime.

Tuners love the Unlimited because it's so easy and inexpensive to customize, plus its maintenance is relatively simple, pleasing DIYers. Problems reported with leaky tops, windshields, and AC drain hose leaks.

Unlimited Rubicon

Avg. Price: $20,099

If ever there was a dream Jeep, the Unlimited Rubicon is it. It leaves all other off-roaders in its dust while providing additional space for its passengers and their gear.

The minds at DaimlerChrysler got the bright idea to blend the ultimate trail-hog Rubicon with the longer-wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited and released the Unlimited Rubicon in 2005. With low-ratio gearing, heavy-duty Dane 44 axles, and locking differentials, it's equipped to take on anything and everything.

The longer wheelbase provides added stability both on the trail and off. But it has a slight negative effect on the departure angle, which is about 5 degrees less than that of the standard-wheelbase Wrangler Rubicon.

The body is ready for all that the trail can dish out, with diamond-plate sill guards and energy-absorbing foam in the sport bar, windshield frame, and the back of the optional hard top. Each Unlimited Rubicon rolled out of the dealer lot on 31-inch Maximum Traction Goodyear Wrangler off-road tires.

A 4.0-liter Power Tech I-6 provides 190 horsepower and 235 lb.-feet of torque at 3200 rpm; available transmissions were the default 6-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic. The heavy-duty Rock-Trac 4WD transfer case completed the picture (note: the 4WD system on Wranglers is not meant for use on dry pavement).

Options made available on the Unlimited Rubicon included a dual top set, with a hard top and soft top of the same color. The soft top is the Sunrider variety, which can be folded in various fashions, including a simulated sunroof mode. Full-steel doors with tinted glass were also available and could be removed for an open-air ride.

Wrangler owners tend to be manic about their vehicles, spouting exclamations of Jeep-love to each other and grinning knowingly to each other when they pass in traffic. The Unlimited Rubicon seems to elicit an even an even more extreme reaction, in line with its own extreme "personality." It truly is the ultimate vehicle for those who are enthusiastic about leaving the road.

X

Avg. Price: $15,787

2006 was the end of the last generation of simple Jeep Wranglers - that is, ones that did not come equipped with air conditioning and available power windows. This no-nonsense trim is similar to the SE, but it came with cloth seats rather than vinyl and a 4.0-liter, 190-horsepower engine, which was an option on SEs with automatic transmission.

It also featured a Quadra-Coil suspension and Command-Trac transfer case, both of which were upgrades from the SE's equipment. Trac-Lok locking differential was available as an option.

As with all Wranglers, standard equipment included six-speed manaul transmission, air bags, height-adjustable seatbelts, soft top, removable doors, and sport bars with energy-absorbing foam. A hard top with full-steel doors and rolling windows was available, and music-loving buyers were able to opt for Sirius Satellite Radio and an upgraded audio system with seven speakers and a 6-CD, in-dash changer.

The Wrangler X was never going to win any environmental groups' awards for fuel efficiency, and although its buyers knew that some of them still complain. The X was rated at 14 mpg city and 18 highway.

X 65th Anniversary Edition

Hitting the 65-year mark is plenty of reason to celebrate. Jeep did so with the release of the 65th Anniversary Edition of the X trim.

The X was the second-most basic Wrangler trim, and like all Wranglers except the manual-transmission SE it received a 4.0-liter, 190-horsepower I-6. Its standard features included cloth upholstery (an upgrade from the base-model SE's vinyl), air bags, six-speed manual transmission, Quadra-Coil suspension, and Command-Trac 4WD transfer case.

The 65th Anniversary package added 30-inch tires on 15-inch forged-aluminum wheels, gas-charged shocks, heavy-duty Dana 44 rear axle, full-metal doors (with tinted-glass windows), and fog lights. Aesthetic upgrades consisted of a silver center-stack bezel, the versatile Sunrider folding soft top, upgraded fender flares, and 65th Anniversary logos in the form of decals and embroidery on the two-tone seats and floormats.

The stereo for this trim was upgraded to a 7-speaker audio system with subwoofer and a 6-CD in-dash changer, plus a one-year Sirius Satellite Radio subscription.

As with all Wranglers, standard equipment included six-speed manaul transmission, air bags, height-adjustable seatbelts, soft top, removable doors, and sport bars with energy-absorbing foam. Fuel-consumption estimates came in at 14 mpg city and 18 highway.