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2007 Jeep Wrangler Test Drive Review

2007 Jeep Wrangler underside Completely redesigned for 2007, the Jeep Wrangler advances in terms of refinement without losing any of the rugged individualism that has made it an off-roading icon.

7.5 /10
Overall Score

As has been true for decades, the redesigned 2007 Jeep Wrangler is a 2-door, short-wheelbase SUV equipped with a convertible or removable hardtop. However, the previous extended-length Unlimited version now offers a much longer wheelbase to accommodate full-size rear doors, a 3-person bench seat, and plenty of cargo, dramatically expanding the Wrangler’s appeal, especially with families. You can find prices, specs, and listing of the Wrangler Unlimited on our page detailing that version of the new Wrangler.

Look and Feel

8/ 10

The redesigned 2007 Jeep Wrangler comes in X, Sahara, and Rubicon trim levels. All of the traditional Wrangler design cues are intact, so while the new version of the SUV is modernized, it remains the same raw, rough, and unrefined vehicle so many people have come to know and love. And yes, you can still fold the windshield down and remove the top and doors for a fully open driving experience.

Compared to the previous Wrangler, the new one is much wider—to improve interior space and comfort—but the 2-door is about the same overall length as the previous-generation model. Sitting on a dramatically longer wheelbase, the new Wrangler Unlimited looks funny, like a reflection in a fun-house mirror. Either way, the Wrangler’s proportions are different from the previous model, though with time people may get used to them.

Interior design improves with the new Wrangler. Key elements are in place, such as the oversized grab handle on the dashboard in front of the passenger and the hose-me-out quality of the materials. Additionally, Jeep adds a sense of style to the Wrangler’s cabin, from the new steering wheel with a much smaller airbag design, to the round gauges and circular air vents. A towering center control panel appears to jut out of a simple, plain dashboard, adding some visual drama.

Performance

7/ 10

With the new Wrangler, Jeep ditches the previous 4.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine, raising the ire of the brand faithful, and replaces it with a 3.8-liter V6 making 202 horsepower and 237 pound-feet of torque. That’s more motive force than the legendary 4.0-liter made, but the new Wrangler also weighs more than before—especially the hefty Unlimited version.

A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a 4-speed automatic available. Perversely, Jeep offers a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) Wrangler, which misses the entire point of putting up with this SUV’s lack of refinement.

The redesign does bring a stiffer body structure, improved steering, a more refined suspension, and new top designs intended to quiet the cabin at higher speeds. These are clear nods to increased customer use of the Wrangler as a daily driver rather than a dedicated off-roader. At the same time, the Wrangler retains an available part-time 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system with a transfer case and low range, as well as 10.2 inches of ground clearance, so it hasn’t lost any of its Billy goat mountain climbing capability.

In fact, the Wrangler Rubicon remains ready for just about anything. Fortified with all-terrain tires, heavy-duty axles, electronically locking differentials, a disconnecting front sway bar for improved wheel articulation, and what Jeep calls a Rock-Trac transfer case with ultra-low gearing, a Wrangler Rubicon’s talent likely exceeds your own when the going gets really rough.

In spite of its newfound refinement, driving a Jeep Wrangler is not like driving a car, or even most SUVs. Input at the steering wheel is taken as more of a suggestion than a directive, stabbing the brake pedal too hard can unsettle straight-line stability, and the wind noise is downright ridiculous. The V6 provides slow but steady acceleration, and rounding corners and curves requires slow but steady driving.

If you’re buying a Wrangler for the image, you’re unlikely to be happy with its driving dynamics. If you’re buying a Wrangler for its off-roading capability, you already know what you’re getting yourself into.

And for the love of Cheez-Its, do not get a Wrangler with 2WD if you ever intend to sell it one day.

Form and Function

7/ 10

A Jeep Wrangler is engineered and designed to be the best off-roading SUV you can buy. As such, its form follows in accordance with that function, right down to the water drain plugs drilled into the floors beneath the carpeting.

With that said, the new 2007 Wrangler is more comfortable and accommodating than ever. If you don’t mind its wiener-dog styling, the Wrangler Unlimited is especially appealing because it seats five people and holds a whole bunch of cargo at the same time.

Accessing the cargo space is just as much of a hassle as it always has been, especially if you stick with the soft convertible top. Get the optional hardtop, and it’s easier. First, you swing open the tailgate, which is hinged on the right side making curb-side loading a challenge. Next, unzip the plastic back window to make the cargo hold opening bigger (or flip the hardtop’s glass window up).

Now you’ve got 17.2 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the standard Wrangler’s back seat, or a stunning 46.4 cubic feet of room in the Wrangler Unlimited. Fold the back seat down, and the figures expand to 61.2 cubic feet and 86.8 cubic feet, respectively.

Tech Level

10/ 10

Traditionally, a Jeep Wrangler is anything but high-tech, but this new one is remarkably sophisticated.

In basic Wrangler X trim, it includes a CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack. Satellite radio, an MP3 player, a CD changer, and an Infinity premium sound system are available for the Wrangler X, as well as a useful compass and an outside temperature display.

Upgrade to Sahara or Rubicon trim and you can get a navigation system for the new Wrangler. More importantly, it includes something called a breadcrumb feature that shows, on the navigation map display, where you’ve been during the current drive. This could prove a life-saver if you’re deep into the woods and need help to find your way back to civilization.

Another tech upgrade is a 20-gig hard drive for storing your music files. It even holds photos that you can display on the navigation system’s screen.

Safety

4/ 10

Every 2007 Wrangler is equipped with antilock brakes, a stability control system, and dual front airbags. Side-impact airbags for the front-seat occupants are optional and include a rollover sensor to help protect in that type of accident.

According to crash-test results conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Wrangler Unlimited 4-door is safer than the standard Wrangler 2-door. The 2-door gets a Marginal rating for small overlap frontal-impact protection on the driver’s side, while the 4-door earns a Good rating in this test. Additionally, the 2-door receives a Poor rating for side-impact protection while the 4-door gets a Marginal rating.

In tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both versions of the Wrangler get 5-star ratings for frontal-impact protection. The NHTSA hasn’t assessed side-impact protection for the 2007 Wrangler but does assign a mediocre 3-star rating for this Jeep’s propensity for rolling over in a collision when equipped with 4WD.

Cost-Effectiveness

9/ 10

Americans love the Jeep Wrangler, which delivers significant bang for their lifestyle buck. Few affordable SUVs can roam where a Wrangler can, so from that perspective, it is a terrific value. And just try to think of another 4-door convertible that you can buy.

Built in Ohio, ready to take on any challenge on any type of unpaved terrain, and the perfect vehicle for cultivating a carefree active lifestyle image, this iconic Jeep is mighty popular in the U.S.A. Just keep in mind that it is slow, it is sloppy, it is loud, it is thirsty, it is full of cheap plastic, and it isn’t the safest vehicle you can buy.

Understanding and accepting these faults—which are faults only when this SUV is used primarily on pavement—is critical to your happiness as a Jeep Wrangler owner.

Updated

Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience reviewing cars and has served in editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, Autobytel, and Vehix. Chris prefers to focus on the cars people actually buy rather than the cars about which people dream, and emphasizes the importance of fuel economy and safety as much as how much fun a car is to drive. Chris is married to an automotive journalist, is the father of four daughters, and lives in Southern California.

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