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2021 Jeep Wrangler Review

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler finishes in the bottom third of our compact SUV rankings. While it's an outstanding off-roader, it doesn't have the upscale interior of many rivals, and it earns the worst-possible predicted reliability rating.

Pros & Cons

  • Incredible off-road ability
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Spacious seats
  • Potent turbocharged engine available
  • Lowest-possible predicted reliability rating
  • Poor gas mileage
  • Rougher ride than many competitors
  • Durable interior has fewer high-end materials than rivals

New for 2021

  • Plug-in-hybrid Wrangler 4xe joins lineup (late availability)
  • Available forward-facing off-road camera

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler's #13 ranking is based on its score within the Compact SUVs category. Currently the Jeep Wrangler has a score of 6.9 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 24 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 6.7
Interior: 6.7
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 8.3 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Jeep Wrangler a Good SUV?

The Jeep Wrangler is an OK SUV, but its specialized nature means it's likely to be either your first buying choice or your last. The Wrangler is a supremely good off-road machine, and it offers some capable powertrains, including a new-for-2021 plug-in hybrid.

This Jeep comes with the user-friendly Uconnect infotainment system, and the four-door Wrangler Unlimited also has a spacious interior. Oh, and you can take the top and doors off of any Wrangler, which is a nice plus.

However, the Wrangler trails many, if not all, other compact SUVs in areas that don't deal with rugged capability. Its base engine underwhelms, and the optional diesel powertrain is the only one that lets you even approach class-average fuel economy ratings. Many rivals provide smoother rides and superior handling.

The Wrangler's sturdy interior construction is functional, but it means that there are fewer top-shelf materials than in most rivals. The two-door Wrangler also has less cargo space than almost every small SUV (though the four-door has more than most). Finally, the Wrangler has the lowest-possible predicted reliability rating.

Why You Can Trust Us: 24 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This 2021 Wrangler review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2018.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

Should I Buy the Jeep Wrangler?

Unless you plan to go off-roading frequently, you're probably better off with almost any other SUV in the class. The Wrangler is the king of its niche, but that comes at the expense of everyday comfort and practicality. What's more, this Jeep has a much higher starting price than most class rivals, so it doesn't provide much bang for your buck.

If you're planning to mostly stick to the pavement, you should check out competitors like the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Kia Sportage, all of which are sportier and/or more upscale than the Wrangler. If you still want a dash of off-road ability but don't plan on climbing rocky trails, you might also want to consider the Subaru Forester.

Compare the Wrangler, CR-V, and CX-5 »

2020 vs. 2021 Jeep Wrangler: What's the Difference?

Jeep makes one big change to the Wrangler lineup for the 2021 model year: The all-new Wrangler 4xe debuts. It's the first-ever plug-in-hybrid Jeep Wrangler, and it features a 375-horsepower powertrain comprised of a turbo-four engine, two electric motors, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. There's one other change for 2021, you can now add a forward-facing off-road camera to this Jeep.

Here are the key changes for the Jeep Wrangler over the last few years:

  • 2018: completely redesigned with improved interior quality and more standard features
  • 2019: gained available forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control
  • 2020: shuffled trim lineup; diesel powertrain became available
  • 2021: plug-in-hybrid Wrangler 4xe model joins lineup (late availability)

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Wrangler, 2019 Wrangler, and 2020 Wrangler reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Jeep Wrangler Cost?

The Wrangler's base trim carries an MSRP of $28,295 for the two-door body style and $31,795 for the four-door (Unlimited) body style. That's much higher than the starting prices of most other compact SUVs.

The popular Wrangler Rubicon costs $38,940 and $42,195 for the two-door and four-door body styles, respectively. The most expensive trim is the High Altitude, which starts at $49,995 and only comes in the four-door body style. That's also much higher than average for a top-trim price in this class.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Jeep dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Jeep deals page.

Jeep Wrangler Versus the Competition

If you're considering a Wrangler, that means you're probably interested in things that most other small crossovers can't provide. With that in mind, the best comparisons to the Wrangler come from within the Jeep family.

Jeep Wrangler vs. Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee is also a compact SUV, and it's a better buy for most shoppers, despite joining the Wrangler in the bottom half of our class rankings. The Cherokee has a quiet cabin with more standard features than the Wrangler, and it provides a smoother ride on rough pavement. It also costs less than its Jeep sibling and offers more advanced safety features. The Cherokee may not be able to hang with the Wrangler on the most extreme trails, but its rugged Trailhawk trim is no off-road slouch.

Compare the Wrangler and Cherokee »

Jeep Wrangler vs. Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator is a compact pickup truck, and it's probably the most direct competitor to the Wrangler anywhere in the automotive marketplace. These Jeeps have similar styling and features, comparable off-road ability, and the same V6 engine. Both also have removable tops, doors, and fold-down windshields. The Wrangler's starting price is a few thousand dollars below the Gladiator's, making it a better choice if your budget is a primary concern. On the other hand, the Gladiator offers the practicality of an open bed, and its tow rating is nearly double that of the Wrangler. The Gladiator also has a slightly higher predicted reliability rating.

Compare the Wrangler and Gladiator »

Compare the Wrangler, Cherokee, and Gladiator »

Wrangler Performance: No Pavement, No Problem

Wrangler Engine

The Wrangler's base engine is a 285-horsepower Pentastar V6. It provides adequate acceleration and power, but it's not the most inspiring powertrain. An optional version of this V6 includes a mild-hybrid eTorque system that boosts torque during acceleration.

For livelier performance, check out the optional 270-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Though it has a bit less horsepower, it has 35 more pound-feet of torque, which makes a noticeable difference during low-speed acceleration. It has plenty of power for highway driving as well. Overall, the turbo-four is a more energetic engine than the V6.

There's also a V6 diesel powertrain available, and it's plenty capable of handling anything you ask of it. The base V6 comes with a six-speed manual transmission, and it's available with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. The eight-speed is the standard transmission with the other engines.

Later in the model year, the all-new Wrangler 4xe will join the lineup. It's a plug-in hybrid with a 375-horsepower powertrain featuring a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, two electric motors, and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Wrangler Gas Mileage

This Jeep is one of the least fuel-efficient compact SUVs available. With its base engine, it gets 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Opt for the turbo-four, and numbers barely improve to 22/24 mpg city/highway. The optional diesel engine gets the best ratings in the lineup, at 22/29 mpg city/highway, but many rivals still have better estimates.

It's worth noting that a plug-in-hybrid Wrangler will join the lineup later in the model year. That will likely be the most efficient model, but fuel economy ratings have not yet been released for it. Jeep estimates that the 4xe will get 50 MPG-equivalent when running on electric power and that it will have an all-electric range of 25 miles.

Wrangler Ride and Handling

The Wrangler's on-road driving dynamics are OK, but they're outclassed by almost every rival. The Wrangler tends to lean and sway around turns, its suspension yields a firm and choppy ride on uneven pavement, and its boxy shape leaves it vulnerable to crosswinds on the highway.

Wrangler Off-Road Performance

With a vast array of features that assist in off-road adventuring – including skid plates, a transfer case, locking differentials, and full-time four-wheel drive – the Wrangler is an absolute beast when the pavement ends. Every model is a great off-roader, but the Rubicon stands above the rest.

Wrangler Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the two-door Wrangler can tow up to 2,000 pounds, and the four-door Wrangler Unlimited can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Read more about performance »

Wrangler Interior: Rugged but Comfortable

Wrangler Cargo Space

Cargo space in this Jeep is good or bad, depending on which model you're talking about. The two-door Wrangler has some of the lowest capacities in the class, with 12.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 31.7 cubes with the rear seats folded.

The four-door Wrangler Unlimited, however, has better capacities than most other small crossovers, with 31.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 72.4 cubic feet with them folded down.

How Many People Does the Wrangler Seat?

Two-door Wrangler models seat four, and four-door Wrangler Unlimited models seat five. The SUV’s boxy shape means even taller passengers should find ample headroom in both rows. The front seats are fairly plush and supportive, but adults will probably prefer the Wrangler Unlimited’s back seats over those of the two-door model because the Unlimited offers easier second-row access and additional legroom.

Wrangler and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat.

Wrangler Interior Quality

The Wrangler's interior is full of durable, water-resistant materials, making it easy to clean out. However, many competitors have more luxurious cabins. Additionally, plenty of outside noise intrudes on occupants.

Wrangler Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Uconnect infotainment system works extremely well. It has an intuitive interface and responsive touch screens. All of the audio and climate functions can be accessed using buttons and knobs on the dashboard, and all of the controls are water resistant, which is a big plus if you get caught in the rain with the top off.

The Wrangler comes standard with a soft-top roof; a hardtop is available. Both are pretty simple to remove. The soft top folds neatly onto the rear tailgate.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 5-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, and a USB port
  • Available infotainment features: 7- and 8.4-inch touch screens, a nine-speaker Alpine audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot, additional USB ports, and navigation
  • Additional standard features: manual windows and door locks, push-button start, a removable soft top with sunroof, and three 12-volt outlets
  • Other available features: a removable hardtop, a power-folding soft top, a forward-facing off-road camera, power windows and locks, air conditioning, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, and remote start

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Wrangler Reliability

Is the Jeep Wrangler Reliable?

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler has the lowest-possible predicted reliability rating of two out of five.

Jeep Wrangler Warranty

Jeep covers the Wrangler with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Wrangler Safety

Wrangler Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not fully crash tested the 2021 Jeep Wrangler. However, the Wrangler earned four out of five stars in the frontal crash test and three stars in the rollover test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the 2021 Wrangler.

Wrangler Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Adaptive cruise control

Read more about safety »

2021 Jeep Wrangler Dimensions and Weight

The two-door Wrangler is 13.9 feet long, while the four-door Wrangler Unlimited is 15.7 feet long. The Wrangler's curb weight ranges from 3,919 to 4,478 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Built?

Jeep builds the 2021 Wrangler in Ohio.

When did the Wrangler First Come Out?

Technically, the Jeep Wrangler's history began with the SUV's rollout for the 1987 model year. However, the Wrangler traces its lineage back to World War II, when Willys-Overland began providing four-wheel-drive vehicles for the U.S. military. Officially, the vehicle was known as the MB, but many people quickly began calling it a "jeep."

The MB was a hit, so Willys-Overland began manufacturing the CJ to sell to civilians back in the states. There were several numbered iterations of the CJ lasting from the mid-1940s to the mid-'80s, with the last being the CJ-7. During this time, Kaiser Motors bought Willys-Overland, and officially branded the CJ as a Jeep.

In 1987, the Jeep Wrangler YJ rolled into showrooms. It lasted into the '90s, when the Wrangler TJ replaced it for the 1997 model year. It carried over many key elements of the YJ, so it was more like an update than a full redesign.

Jeep did fully redesign the Wrangler for the 2007 model year, when they introduced the JK. That model lasted roughly a decade until the most recent Wrangler redesign, which took place for the 2018 model year. That brought us the Wrangler JL, which is the current generation.

Which Jeep Wrangler Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler comes in two-door and four-door body styles (the latter is known as the Wrangler Unlimited), and it's available in 12 trims: Sport, Willys Sport, Sport S, Islander, Willys, 80th Anniversary, Altitude, Sahara, Rubicon, Sahara Altitude, High Altitude, and the all-new 4xe.

The Sport S makes a great choice for most buyers. It comes with more convenience features than the base trim, including things that many people now consider necessities, such as air conditioning and power windows and locks. It also offers more infotainment and driver assistance features than the base Sport trim.

Jeep Wrangler Powertrain Options:

  • Base engine: 3.6-liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque (available with or without eTorque mild-hybrid assist); starts at $28,295 ($31,295 for the eTorque version)
  • Available powertrains:
    • turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque; starts at $29,795
    • 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine with 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque; starts at $34,295
    • turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that combine to produce 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard six-speed manual; available eight-speed automatic (standard with turbo-four and diesel engines)

Jeep Wrangler Trims:

Jeep Wrangler Sport

The Wrangler Sport carries a base price of $28,295 for two-door models and $31,795 for four-door models. The Sport comes with a 285-horspower V6 engine, a six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel drive, skid plates, a two-speed transfer case, and a Sunrider folding soft top.

Standard features include cloth upholstery, manual windows and door locks, push-button start, three 12-volt outlets, a rearview camera, a 5-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, and a USB port.

You can get an eight-speed automatic transmission as a $1,500 option. You can upgrade to the 270-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine (with the eight-speed automatic) for $1,500. Opting for the V6 engine with eTorque mild-hybrid assist – which also comes with the eight-speed automatic – costs $3,000.

Four-door Sport models also offer the Ecodiesel V6 powertrain. It's mated to the eight-speed transmission, and the upgrade cost is $6,000.

Other options include a hardtop roof ($1,395), air conditioning ($1,295), leather upholstery ($1,750), a tow package ($795), and a rear limited-slip differential ($595).

Jeep Wrangler Sport S

The Wrangler Sport S starts at $32,435 for two-door models and $35,935 for four-door models. In addition to the base model’s standard features, the Sport S comes with air conditioning, power windows and door locks, and remote keyless entry.

The same engines and transmissions are available. Most options from the Sport trim carry over, and you can add remote start ($395) and a nine-speaker Alpine stereo ($1,295).

The Cold Weather package ($695) adds remote start, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The Technology package ($695) includes a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Technology package comes standard in four-door Sport S models.

The Safety Group ($995) adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. The Jeep Advanced Safety package ($795) bundles forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.

In four-door Sport S models, there are two additional packages. The 8.4-Inch Radio and Premium Audio Group ($1,995) adds an 8.4-inch touch screen, navigation, HD Radio, the Alpine audio system, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. The Sun and Sound package ($4,190) includes a power-folding soft top and the contents of the Radio and Premium Audio package.

Jeep Wrangler Sahara

The Wrangler Sahara starts at $38,890 and is available only as a four-door model. The Sahara is equipped with side steps and larger brakes. Standard features in the Sahara include dual-zone automatic climate control, premium cloth upholstery, a 7-inch touch screen, satellite radio, additional USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Most options – including the powertrain upgrades – carry over from the previous trims. You can add an off-road camera that's integrated into the front grille for $595 and a power-folding soft top for $3,995.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

The Wrangler Rubicon is the best off-roader in the lineup, and it has a starting MSRP of $38,940 for two-door models and $42,195 for four-door models. The Rubicon adds to the Sahara’s features with rock rails, locking front and rear differentials, a sway bar , and an upgraded transfer case and 4WD system. When it comes to comfort and convenience features, the Rubicon is nearly identical to the Sahara.

Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Later in the 2021 model year, the brand-new Wrangler 4xe will join the lineup. It will be the first-ever plug-in-hybrid Wrangler, and it will feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that combine to produce 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission will round out the powertrain.

Jeep estimates that the Wrangler 4xe will be able to go up to 25 miles on electric power alone and that it will earn 50 MPG-equivalent while under electric power.

Initially, there will be three 4xe models: 4xe (base), 4xe Sahara, and 4xe Rubicon. Pricing information is not yet available.

Which Wrangler Body Style Is Right for Me?

The Wrangler comes in two-door and four-door body styles. The right choice comes down to two things: how often you carry people in your rear seats and how much cargo space you need. If you frequently have rear-seat passengers or carry large outdoor gear, you'll want the bigger body style.

Four-door Wrangler Unlimited models have much more rear-seat space, making it easier for adults to ride comfortably in the back. And as you might guess, the extra set of doors makes it less of a hassle to get into the back seat. Four-door models also have more than twice as much cargo space as two-door models.

Which Wrangler Model Is Best for Off-Roading?

Buyers searching for the best off-road model will want the Rubicon. While every Wrangler model can more than hold its own when the pavement ends –even the base Wrangler will put most other SUVs to shame when it comes to off-roading – the Rubicon takes things to a whole new level. It comes standard with all the gear you need, like rock sliders, locking differentials, and oversized all-terrain tires.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Jeep dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Jeep deals page.

See 2021 Jeep Wrangler specs and trims »

The Final Call

You know exactly what to expect with the 2021 Jeep Wrangler: a rugged SUV with unparalleled off-road capability that prioritizes function over form and attitude over comfort. This is the SUV you want when you go on weekend adventures, but it's a poor choice for a family vehicle because it isn't as comfortable or upscale as many rivals. It also has a terrible predicted reliability rating, which contributes to its bottom-tier finish in our compact SUV rankings. To put it bluntly, this SUV is a poor choice and a poor value in the class unless you frequently go off-roading.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Wrangler is the original go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle that still has the spirit of the original military Jeep of World War II. In an era when SUVs have become the de facto family vehicle, the Wrangler is a throwback to rougher and more rugged off-road vehicles. It's not as comfortable as rival SUVs such as the Toyota 4Runner or Land Rover Defender, but in return it provides excellent off-road capability, two-door or four-door configurations, and a removable top." -- Edmunds
  • "Now, for good and bad, these updates haven't turned the Wrangler into some cushy family crossover. It's still louder, rougher and more cumbersome on-road with fewer airbags. It won't be for everyone, but that's OK. This icon doesn't need to be." -- Autotrader (2019)
  • "Though the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is modernized – better to drive, more efficient, and equipped with a greater number of creature comforts and contemporary technologies – it hasn't lost its rugged edge or trail-blazing capabilities. And especially in newly refined Sahara trim, which is perfectly priced to go head-to-head with more conventional family-sized crossovers, Jeep makes the Wrangler more appealing to a wider cross-section of SUV shoppers without diluting what made it a legend in the first place." -- New York Daily News (2018)
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