2019 Jeep Wrangler

Performance


#13 out of 16 in Compact SUVs

MSRP
$28,045
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Jeep Wrangler Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.1

The 2019 Jeep Wrangler comes standard with a V6 engine and offers a turbo-four engine as an upgrade. Both move the Wrangler well, but the turbocharged engine feels more energetic. This is one of the best off-roaders in any class, but it's not as comfortable or athletic on the road as some other compact SUVs.

  • As base engines go, the 3.6-liter V6 is no stick in the mud, … getting the 2-ton (or more) Wrangler up and running with little effort. By my wristwatch, it gets to 60 mph in an estimated seven seconds." -- New York Daily News (2018)
  • "On-road, some suspension changes, including retuned springs, contribute to a solid, confident feel. … Body roll is minimal, and the ride is controlled without being unduly harsh." -- Automobile Magazine (2018)
  • "Sometimes, you just want to go bashing through the rocks, the mud, the snow, or the sand. And that is exactly what the Wrangler is there for. The fact that it's so much easier to live with the rest of the time proves that this is the best Wrangler that Jeep has ever built." -- Autoblog (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The Wrangler features a 3.6-liter V6 base engine that puts out 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This old standby has been powering Wranglers for years, and while it gets the job done, it won't wow you with its acceleration or power.

The Wrangler offers a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This engine also has a mild e-assist electrification to improve fuel economy. This engine's extra torque is noticeable and makes the Wrangler feel more energetic when accelerating.

The V6 engine comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but you can opt for an eight-speed automatic, which is standard with the turbo-four. With the automatic transmission and base engine, the Wrangler gets an estimated 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. That’s significantly worse than almost every compact SUV. Models with the turbo-four engine do a bit better – 23/25 mpg city/highway.

The Wrangler can tow up to 2,000 pounds, while the Wrangler Unlimited can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

  • "We'd also make sure to try both the standard V6 and the new 4-cylinder turbo upgrade -- neither is a bad choice, but the turbo's extra torque and substantially better fuel economy are hard to argue with." -- Autotrader
  • "The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 … remains a serviceable if uninspiring motor; in this new application, it hasn't picked up any of the low-end grunt that it could so badly use. Once I learn to ignore its high-rpm wail while cruising in low range – something I have to relearn every time I'm driving a Wrangler in low – it works well enough." -- Autoweek (2018)
  • "The V6 supplies better-than-adequate acceleration all-around, and the turbo 4-cylinder is surprisingly energetic. Punch the four's throttle, and – after a tiny bit of lag as the turbo spools up – it shoots forward with satisfying zip. On both engines, the stop/start feature functioned smoothly. The 8-speed automatic transmission works well with both powertrains, with smooth, timely shifts and no apparent 'hunting' for the right gear. The V6-only 6-speed manual is much more refined than in previous Wranglers; it has a big, hefty shift knob and smooth shift-lever/clutch-pedal action." -- Consumer Guide (2018)

Handling and Braking

Despite its off-road prowess, the Wrangler isn't the most athletic SUV on the road. It's easy to maneuver, but it leans around corners, and the body shape leads to occasional crosswind issues. The rugged suspension makes the ride feel choppy at times, though it's fine over smooth roads.

  • Driving a Jeep on the pavement is, well, like driving a Jeep on the pavement. The solid front and rear axles mean it's not going to win any comfort contests, and despite the improved aerodynamics offered from the raked windshield and seven-slot grill, it's still pretty easy to catch a crosswind. That said, Jeep added vents behind the front fenders so the hood flutter from yesteryear is gone and wind noise, at least in the hard top, has been improved." -- CNET (2018)
  • "The on-road ride is more controlled and less 'wallowy' than before, but it's still rather stiff and somewhat brittle over anything but glass-smooth pavement – particularly on the shorter-wheelbase 2-door models. However, most Wrangler shoppers will willingly make the trade-off in comfort, just like sports-car buyers will tolerate a taut ride for superior corner-carving capability." -- Consumer Guide (2018)
  • The turning circle is improved on the JL, enabling it to snake through tight mountain bends that the JKs along with us could only manage by stopping, backing up, and re-turning into the corner." -- Automobile Magazine (2018)

Off-Roading

There are few SUVs that can match the Wrangler in an off-road setting. Even the base trim tackles trails with ease, while the higher trims are only held back by your imagination and risk tolerance. Part-time four-wheel drive comes standard in the Wrangler, as do skid plates. Rubicon models feature a locking rear differential and a heavier-duty suspension, enabling them to tackle even the most daunting terrain.

  • "And yet, as much as this civility is appreciated, the new JL Wrangler is also a far more capable off-roader. It can go places you'd normally need a horse or helicopter to reach. Even a base Sport is a veritable mountain goat, but obviously, the Rubicon and its mechanical reinforcements are what you'll really want for the toughest assignments." -- Autotrader
  • "Jeep says the suspension was tuned to optimize on-road handling and ride comfort without sacrificing off-road capability. The Wrangler's mountain-goat capabilities continue unabated; we took Rubicon models on an extremely challenging off-road course that included extra-steep ascents over large, loose rocks, and the Jeeps didn't miss a beat." -- Consumer Guide (2018)
  • "The Wrangler just inspires confidence under all circumstances. Reach the point where you feel like most SUVs would simply roll over? Nope, Wrangler is fine. Worried about that tight spot up ahead? Wrangler fits. Concerned about the frame-grabbing rock up ahead? Point your wheel at it and just go. You're fine. And when you screw up, the standard (across all trims, mind you) skid plates are there to save your ass." -- Left Lane News (2018)
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