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2009 Jeep Wrangler ReviewThe Good
If you need to drive over something, there’s nothing commercially available that will get the job done better than Jeep's 2009 Wrangler.The Bad
For just about any purpose other than driving over something, the 2009 Jeep Wrangler’s utility is compromised at best.
The CarGurus View
The 2009 Jeep Wrangler is skittish, loud, and twitchy on uneven pavement, uncomfortable, and gets poor mileage, but if you’re looking to buy one, you could really care less. The addition of two extra doors opened up the Wrangler to a whole new segment of the buying public who wanted to drive what is perhaps the most iconic vehicle currently being sold. The Rubicon’s dual locking heavy-duty differentials are unnecessary unless you’re looking to do some serious off-roading, however.
At a Glance
A carryover from 2008, the Jeep Wrangler’s only change for 2009 is the addition of Trailer Sway Control, which invokes the anti-skid system when a trailer begins to go astray. Available in two- and four-door configurations, the Wrangler comes in X, Limited, and Rubicon trims, the last of which comes with dual heavy-duty locking differentials for severe off-road use. All two-door trims have available four-wheel drive, and four-door Xs and Limiteds offer the option of RWD only.
All eight trims of the 2009 Wrangler come with a 3.8-liter V6 that produces 202 hp in two-door Wranglers and 205 hp in four-doors and delivers 237 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. Available with either a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, four-door models have the blasphemous-for-a-Wrangler option of rear-wheel drive only, while all two-door models have available four-wheel drive, although it shouldn't be engaged on dry pavement.
Maximum towing capacity is 2,000 lbs for two-door Wranglers and 3,500 lbs for four-doors, aided by Jeep’s Trailer Sway Control, new for 2009 on the Wrangler. Expect little difference between trims and transmissions with regard to power and acceleration. None will exceed your expectations in that regard, and rightfully so - speed isn’t what the Wrangler does well. Built for off-road use, the throttle compensates during such jaunts, preventing you from applying too much gas at once, or from losing too much momentum. All configurations get 15/19 mpg and run on regular-grade gasoline.
Ride & Handling
Let’s be honest: No one buys a Wrangler for a smooth ride and poised handling. If you’re looking to buy a Wrangler, it’s because you at least harbor tendencies of wanting to drive over things. With that in mind, the Wrangler handles like it was designed to drive over things. Two-door Wranglers especially, with their short wheelbase and off-road suspension, tend to bounce and wander over uneven pavement and are susceptible to cross-wind violence. Body lean and roll are evident in cornering, due to the vehicle's tall stance, although things quiet down noticeably with four doors.
That said, the off-road suspension actually handles many bumps and ripples quite well, without the teeth-chattering many will remember from the older leaf-spring design. Take it off-road, and you’ll be impressed at how easily the Wrangler eats up terrain.
Cabin & Comfort
The Wrangler is loud. Remember that, no matter what. Even with the hard top, the Wrangler is loud. The engine is loud during acceleration, the wind is loud, the road noise is loud - literally anything that's happening outside, you’ll hear inside. But you knew that.
Moving on, reviewers have found a lot of the controls - specifically off-road, wipers, signals, and lamps - out of reach, placed too far away for comfort. Controls for the audio, navigation, and climate systems are well-placed and intuitive, however, although some are hard to see with the top down and sunlight intruding, predictably. Given its rather spartan design, even with the additions of recent years, the Wrangler’s interior is still very well put together and not lacking in quality with either materials or finish.
There is plenty of shoulder and headroom, especially with the top down, but taller drivers may find legroom lacking. The rear seats, in both two- and four-door trims, are pretty terrible. The added 1.6” of rear legroom in the four-doors makes sitting in the second row painful rather than impossible for adults. Exaggeration aside, entry into the rear for two-doors is quite complicated, and the tiny doors of the four-door provide only a slight improvement. Once you do get inside, be prepared for a hard, uncomfortable seat as your reward.
All Wranglers come standard with a roll bar, dual front airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, an anti-skid system with rollover sensors, and a low tire pressure monitoring system. Additionally, all Wranglers are equipped with traction control and Jeep's Trailer Sway Control, and the Rubicons come with front and rear heavy-duty locking differentials.
NHTSA ratings for front impacts are five stars for both driver and passenger, regardless of trim, and three stars for rollover. Four-door Wranglers received four stars for rollover resistance, but ratings have not been released for two-door Wranglers.
What Owners Think
Some have complained about gauges being too small, especially when driving with the top down and dealing with the resultant sun glare. The general consensus is that the rear seats should be used for parcels and not people, although the four-door does make them slightly more functional. The cult status of the Wrangler can’t be ignored, especially for a vehicle with such limited usefulness, and it’s hard to find a group of people who love their vehicles more than Wrangler owners.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
What's your take on the 2009 Jeep Wrangler?
Jeep Wrangler Questions
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Steering Stabilizer (damper)
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I have 09 Wrangler, not lifted. The engine is a 3.8L and its a V6 SMPI Engine.
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I have an odd situation where both of the running light/blinkers work (the round, yellow/orange lights underneath the headlamps on my jeep) when the headlights are off, and only one running light/bl...