Conquering the City in the All-New Jeep Wrangler
Maybe it’s the formidable and unmistakable design. Maybe it’s because it reminds me so much of the iconic Philippines jeepneys I used to ride all the time when I was younger. Or maybe it’s just because it just looks so damn fine. Whatever the reason, the Jeep Wrangler has always been the accompanying image when I’m asked to name my dream ride.
Few cars have a look so iconic you can identify it immediately with a single glance: the Volkswagen Beetle, the Porsche 911, the Delorean, the Mazda Miata, the Mini Cooper. I would dare to add the Jeep Wrangler to this list. Directly related to the military vehicles of the 1940s and 1950s, the Wrangler is so distinctive and in your-face that it’s virtually impossible to look away when one is in the immediate vicinity.
I know this about the brand not just because I’ve admired it for so long (about as far back as the time I first developed a fascination with cars and driving), but because I’ve had the good fortune of driving one a few years go. But the all-new 2019 edition of the Jeep Wrangler was launched in the Philippines earlier this year and so it was only logical to schedule some drive time and get reacquainted with a true icon.
There are no major surprises in terms of exterior design on the Wrangler. Still aggressive and rugged, the tweaks are subtle, such as a lowered beltline and slightly larger windows. The seven-slot grille is still there, of course, but one tiny change is how the first and last lines now overlap with the headlamps.
The official Wrangler spec sheet also details how it is possible to remove key parts like the hood, fenders, swing gate, doors and hinges in about 20 minutes. I had to take Jeep’s word for it because no way I was fiddling with that stuff during my Wrangler weekend. Besides, in hot, humid, smog-filled Manila, al fresco driving isn’t exactly recommended.
Climbing in takes a bit of effort given the high ground clearance (10.8 inches, which means kids and anybody shorter than five feet might have to literally jump in), but once inside, the feeling is one of being safely ensconced in a solid, welcoming cocoon.
If you’re used to the newfangled, high-tech, multimedia digital screens of cars these days, the one of the Wrangler might be a bit of a letdown as it’s a humble five-inch screen with standard display settings. What’s different from most other car models is how volume control is located behind the steering wheel on the right side, and power window buttons are arranged in the center panel instead of the driver door. It takes a while to get used to these changes, but they’re negligible when stacked up against what the Wrangler can actually do.
Previously available in the Pentastar V6 engine, the all-new Wrangler now comes with a new, more fuel-efficient option: a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. Mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission, it delivers 268 horsepower and can deliver up to 400 Nm of torque. It now also comes with Engine Stop-Start (which you can, of course, turn off, if you’re so inclined).
A Wrangler in the city
Although built for rough terrain, I drove the Wrangler mostly on city roads, which isn’t that far off, given the state of disrepair of many of our highways and avenues (I’m only half-joking). As expected, potholes and cracks posed barely any challenge to the Wrangler. If there had been severe floods, I bet it would have had no trouble, too. (I was reminded of that viral video of the Jeep conquering floodwaters in Valenzuela).
To be sure, reliable performance in punishing conditions is what you’re buying an off-roader for, but if you’re a regular Joe working a nine-to-five and shuffling between Makati and Quezon City on a workweek, the Wrangler works, too. Between unpredictable weather and bumpy roads, it’s not enough that you have an everyday ride that gets you from A to B; you need a workhorse you can lean on as much as you can.
Of course, the fact that it looks good, which makes YOU look good, doesn’t hurt either.
The All-New Generation Jeep Wrangler Sport is priced at P3.39 million while the All-New Generation Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport is at P3.59 million