$24,712 - $38,178

2017 Jeep Wrangler Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Jeep Wrangler was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.7

With standard part-time four-wheel drive and available features like a locking rear differential, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler lives up to its reputation as an off-road monster. The powerful V6 engine delivers plenty of power for all driving situations, though it falls short of many class rivals when it comes to gas mileage.

The Wrangler’s stiff suspension is great for off-roading, but it means that ride quality suffers on the road, particularly if the pavement is in poor condition. The Wrangler also doesn’t have the best handling; the steering feels numb, and there’s considerable body lean when you take corners.

  • "By modern standards, the Wrangler is not pleasant to drive, no matter how you slice it. Sure, it's livable in the city, and it can get you from one place to another pretty effortlessly. But it has a rough ride, lots of body roll and a loud interior, and it isn't nimble in traffic." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The Wrangler features a 3.6-liter V6 engine that puts out 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The engine delivers plenty of power, so you’ll have enough juice for highway passing maneuvers and traversing rocky terrain. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic is available. Both transmissions are smooth and pair well with the engine.

The downside of the powerful engine is its subpar fuel economy. The Wrangler gets an EPA-estimated 17 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway with either transmission. Those are poor estimates for a compact SUV, especially when you consider that rivals like the Mazda CX-5 get ratings like 26 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway.

See 2017 Jeep Wrangler specs and trims »

  • "For power, the Wrangler's 3.6-liter V6 is definitely adequate, providing swift acceleration in two-door models with the six-speed manual. The five-speed automatic transmission is less exciting, but revs are a bit high at freeway speeds. If you are OK shifting your own gears, the manual's long-throw, long-stick shifter and easily modulated clutch add to the fun and novelty of what is already a fun and novel vehicle." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2016)
  • "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)

Handling and Braking

If you’re expecting the Wrangler’s outstanding off-road prowess to translate into on-road athleticism, you may be disappointed. There’s a fair bit of body roll when cornering, and the steering feels vague, making it more difficult to control the vehicle around sharp curves. Because even the base suspension is stiff enough to handle off-roading, the Wrangler’s ride quality isn’t as smooth as many competitors’, and even small road imperfections are felt in 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 (2016)
  • "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)

Off-Roading

In case you haven’t heard, off-roading is kind of the Wrangler’s thing. As you might expect from a legendary off-road machine, features like part-time four-wheel drive and skid plates are standard in the Wrangler, so even the base model is ready to venture off the pavement at a moment’s notice.

If you really want to brave the great outdoors, however, you should consider the Rubicon trim, which was built with serious off-roading in mind. The Rubicon models feature locking rear differentials and heavier-duty suspensions, enabling them to tackle even the most daunting terrain.

  • "Nonetheless, any Wrangler is a beast in the wild, with abilities that put other SUVs to shame." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "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 (2016)
  • "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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