$24,027 - $35,409

2016 Jeep Wrangler Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Jeep Wrangler was new.


Performance: 7.9

The 2016 Jeep Wrangler stands out as perhaps the preeminent off-road SUV in its class, though it lags behind many competitors in terms of on-road performance. Its powerful engine and four-wheel drive beg you to veer off the beaten path, where it handles almost any terrain with ease. On the road, the ride is somewhat rough, and its handling is less precise than that of its more graceful crossover rivals in the class.

  • "If you're not buying a Jeep Wrangler for its off-road capabilities, then why? Solid axles, generous ground clearance, short overhangs, compliant suspension, rugged construction, terrific 4-wheel-drive systems, tidy size; no wonder it's so good away from pavement." --Kelley Blue Book
  • "If you want to dominate the off-road trails in your area, you've come to the right review." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The Wrangler delivers the muscle that you need to go off road thanks to its 3.6-liter V6, which produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The engine gives the Jeep an energetic feel, and you'll get the picture the first time you step on the gas at a stoplight and leave other cars in the dust. Drivers with an aversion to the slow lane will be pleased that the Wrangler is equally comfortable on the highway, with plenty of power to pass slower vehicles.

The Wrangler comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and a five-speed automatic is available. Both are smooth, and either will allow you to enjoy the engine's power on and off the road. But be warned: you'll pay for that power at the pump. Two-door Wranglers get an EPA-estimated 17/21 mpg city/highway with either transmission; four-door models get 16/21 mpg with the manual transmission and 16/20 with the automatic. Those estimates are poor for a compact SUV.

See a full list of specs »

  • "Chrysler's Pentastar V6 is the best thing to happen to the Jeep Wrangler since aftermarket winches. With smooth operation, nice throttle response and even decent fuel economy, it's just about as perfectly suited as it can be." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The V6 engine is a thoroughly modern power plant that gets manual-equipped two-door models up to speed in a manner that can legitimately be described as swift." -- Edmunds
  • "The 3.6-liter V6 provides sufficient power off the line and for highway passing; generous throttle input is only needed during hill climbs." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Ride, Handling, and Braking

The Wrangler does not have the athleticism on pavement that you might expect. The numb steering sometimes leaves you wondering if you've misjudged a turn. When heading around corners, the Wrangler leans and pitches to the point that you may get nervous. Many class rivals offer smoother rides; the Wrangler's stiff suspension will transmit any road imperfections straight into the cabin.

  • "Simply turning left at an intersection will highlight the slow, vague steering and abundant body roll that's truly unlike any other SUV on sale today. Higher-speed maneuvers are spooky. The ride quality is also rough, and even with the hardtop, interior noise is profuse." -- Edmunds
  • "Wrangler exhibits body lean and noseplow in even moderate-speed cornering. The steering is light and slow in directional changes, and these SUVs are subject to crosswind wander." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The Wrangler doesn't ride smoothly. It has improved dramatically over the years and is more livable than ever, especially in the relatively new Unlimited version, thanks to its longer wheelbase. But there's no overcoming its design and heavy-duty hardware." -- Cars.com (2013)


The Wrangler made its name as a rugged off-roader, and it continues to hang its hat on that today. Part-time four-wheel drive is standard, meaning that you're always ready to handle inclement weather or the unstable terrain of your own choosing.

Wrangler Rubicon models are designed to be tested in the great outdoors. They have locking front and rear differentials and suspension upgrades, and Jeep bets you can't find any terrain they can't handle. Rocky hillsides, mud pits, creeks, you name it – the Wrangler keeps its composure through it all, making it one of the unquestioned leaders in off-road performance.

  • "Nonetheless, any Wrangler is a beast in the wild, with abilities that put other SUVs to shame." -- Edmunds
  • "The requirements don't change: generous ground clearance, minimal overhangs, capable 4-wheel drive, compliant suspension, rugged construction. All that makes the Wrangler nearly unstoppable off-road." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "What a hoot. We crawled over rocks, forded creeks and generally tackled the most treacherous of terrain without breaking a sweat. Well, we did, but the Jeep was universally composed." -- AutoWeek (2012)

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