From a humble 2-Door Wrangler Sport to the completely uncorked $75,000 Rubicon 392, with multiple engine and roof choices in between, there’s definitely a Wrangler for every taste, need and desire. We now know the answer to the question, “What would happen if Jeep put a V8 in the Wrangler?” Oh, and there’s a hybrid one now too. And a couple with factory 35-inch tires – all of this in addition to the already-robust suite of powertrains introduced over the past few years, including a turbocharged four-banger and a frugal (but heavy) diesel. Yeah, it’s a good time to be a Wrangler fan.
As always, though, we’ll share a word of warning: Though every one of those Wranglers is cool and capable, none is what we’d call civilized by modern standards. Ride comfort, handling, interior noise, safety ratings, fuel economy, cabin security … we could go on, but just know that there are reasons to consider a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Toyota 4Runner instead. Oh, and there’s the matter of the new, independent-front-suspension 2021 Ford Bronco. So 4×4 enthusiasts rejoice!
Interior & Technology | Passenger & Cargo Space | Performance, Towing & Fuel Economy
What they’re like to drive | Pricing & Features | Safety Features & Crash Ratings
What’s new for 2022?
Jeep now has Ford’s revived Bronco to compete with, and things are already getting interesting. For 2022, Jeep expanded availability of its Xtreme Recon option, which adds factory 35” tires and a 1.5-inch lift. It can now be added to the Willys in addition to the Rubicon, which first got the option for 2021. The Rubicon got some upgrades to better match up with the new Ford Bronco, including a new segment-best crawl ratio. Jeep also shuffled its color options around, most notably adding Tuscadero Pink to the updated palette. Oh, and half doors are back!
What are the Wrangler’s interior and in-car technology like?
The 2022 Jeep Wrangler has a stylized interior to match the exterior looks. There’s no mistaking it for any other vehicle when you’re inside. The exterior paint bleeds through onto the pillars and other parts of the interior. A tall, upright seating position provides a commanding view over the relatively short, narrow hood. You sit close to the windows and a windshield that is more raked than past Wranglers. All the controls are easily within reach.
The base Wrangler comes with a basic 5-inch touchscreen for barebones audio/car controls, but the optional 7- or 8.4-inch touchscreens are highly recommended for their added feature content and user-friendly functionality. There’s a similar disparity in materials depending on how you option it. A Sahara or Rubicon with all the leather boxes checked can start to feel half luxurious inside, while a base Sport is a plastic and rubber paradise. Regardless of trim, though, the Wrangler’s interior is a very different place to be than most cars for sale today (and a great improvement over its predecessors).
There are multiple roof designs available, but all allow the Wrangler to be a convertible, albeit with varying degrees of difficulty. There are two “Sunrider” soft-tops that differ in material (the standard is vinyl and the Premium is a thicker canvas-like material) but offer the same improved functionality over the previous-generation Wrangler. They’re still very noisy, have plastic windows and allow a car prowler to easily “break” inside. The optional “Freedom Top,” available with black or body-colored pieces, corrects those issues. It provides a pair of removable panels over the front seats, but they have to be stored someplace. You can also remove the rear-quarter window panels, as you can with the Sunrider, for a freer-flowing cabin while keeping the roof in place to prevent sunburns. If you’re OK with the sun, though, there’s another option, and it may be the best of both worlds. The Sky One-Touch Power Roof is basically a giant cloth sunroof that provides the quickest and easiest way to let the air and sunshine in. Check out our full review with video of it here.
Finally, Jeep lets you do some things other manufacturers don’t with the Wrangler. The big one is that the doors (two or four) can be taken off. Then, if you particularly enjoy the taste of bugs, the windshield can be laid flat on the hood. Remove the roof and you’re basically left with a Jeep skeleton. Features like these are just the beginning of why the Wrangler is so well loved by its fanbase.
How big is the Wrangler?
Interior space for the Wrangler is respectable, especially if you opt for the four-door. Rear legroom is compromised in the two-door at just 35.7 inches, whereas the four-door provides a far more useful and comfortable 38.3 inches. The big annoyance is getting in and out of the two-door’s rear seats — lifting the suspension (as owners often do) makes it even worse. Once you’re back there, things are comfortable enough for short trips. However, the upright seating could become problematic for longer ones. Taller drivers may also find that the front seat doesn’t move back far enough, and some may balk at there being no power-operated driver seat available in a vehicle that tops $40,000.
Cargo space for the two-door is a meager 12.9 cu-ft with the seats up and 46.9 cu-ft with them folded down. The larger four-door has 31.7 cu-ft of space with the seats up and 72.4 cu-ft when folded down, which is comparable to many two-row midsize crossovers. As we discovered in our Wrangler luggage test, the boxy design enhances versatility, but it’s also an unusually shaped area with door latches and roof pillars taking up space.
Ease of loading depends on your choice of roof (soft top or hardtop). The hardtop opens up the swing door and glass area easily, while the soft top makes loading some items a pain because you’ll have to remove part of the soft top to access the whole loading area. It’s also possible for fine dust and sand to make their way through the soft top’s seals.
What are the Wrangler’s fuel economy and performance specs?
Settle in folks, this is going to take a while.
The standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6 good for 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and an eight-speed automatic is optional. Automatic stop/start is also included, as it is on all powertrains but the 392. Fuel economy for a four-door automatic Wrangler (the volume seller) is 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. Differences in body style and transmission have negligible effect.
For $1,500, this engine can be upgraded with the eTorque mild-hybrid system. This adds a dollop of power when accelerating from a stop, but more importantly increases the capability and smoothness of the auto stop/start system. The result is greater refinement and tiny fuel economy improvement.
A 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four paired with eTorque is a no-cost option. It produces 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The eight-speed auto is standard. Fuel economy improves to 21/24/22 with the four-door, which obviously isn’t much. This engine also requires premium fuel. Consider this a performance upgrade.
Once one of the Wrangler’s most appealing engine upgrades, the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 has been overshadowed a bit by new offerings, but it’s a unique option for the segment and certainly has upsides for those who worship at the altar of torque. It produces 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. It too is automatic only. Fuel economy goes up to a more appreciable 22/29/25. If you do a lot of highway driving, this is the one to get.
The Wrangler 4xe is Jeep’s first electrified production off-roader. This plug-in hybrid gets 49 MPGe (mile-per-gallon equivalent). It combines the 2.0-liter turbo with an electric motor and battery pack to achieve 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Those with short commutes can take advantage of its 21-mile all-electric range, provided they have somewhere to plug in. Once the battery is depleted, Jeep estimates 20 mpg combined.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Wrangler Rubicon 392. This is the long-awaited V8 Wrangler, specifically a 6.4-liter V8 good for 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Jeep is estimating a 0-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds, which is 40% quicker than a V6-powered Rubicon. A beefed up eight-speed automatic is included with a full-time Selec-Trac four-wheel-drive system. It’s rated at 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
Every Wrangler has four-wheel drive, but the standard system (apart from 392 and 4xe) is operated by the driver with a floor-mounted transfer case control. The available Selec-Trac and Rock-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive systems effectively change into 4-Hi automatically when traction demands it. In this way, it’s a bit like an all-wheel-drive system, though it maintains a low range.
What’s the Wrangler like to drive?
Generally speaking, Wrangler remains a bit of a bear to handle. The steering is slow and crosswinds cause it stray from its lane on the highway. Bumps and road imperfections are felt throughout your body, and the wind noise is quite tragic at higher speeds with the soft top. The hardtop isn’t exactly serene, either, and in general you’ll find a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Toyota 4Runner to be more comfortable and refined. On the other hand, the JL Wrangler is improved in all those areas compared to its predecessors, especially its steering, which is not only far sharper and reassuring than the vaguely spooky Wranglers of the past, but actually better than the 4Runner’s. This Jeep is definitely better than previous Wranglers for daily driving duty, but we still wouldn’t recommend that someone purchase one for that sole purpose.
Acceleration is perfectly adequate from the base V6 engines, and there’s very little hunting and pecking as the automatic gearbox picks the proper ratio. The six-speed manual is fine, with a reasonable clutch pedal that’s not too hard or long to make using it a pain. Far from it. There’s just enough power to spin the rear tires from a standing start with the V6, but know that the much heavier four-door model will be considerably slower than the two-door Wrangler. As for the turbocharged four-cylinder, it may enjoy a fuel economy advantage, but it actually feels quicker than the V6 as well. The thrust still won’t blow you away, but the turbo does represent a performance upgrade. The diesel’s abundant torque makes it feel like you’re packing a monster under the hood. It unfortunately sounds a bit like a monster too, even if it’s smooth and refined for a diesel.
Things really get interesting with the high-output 4xe plug-in hybrid and the V8-powered Rubicon 392. Both weigh about the same and are offered in limited varieties, but go about their missions in very different ways. The frugal 4xe offers much of the 392’s acceleration, but without its fantastic V8 soundtrack. In exchange, you get great mileage (for a Wrangler, of course) and the smug satisfaction of knowing that you’re more likely to make an environmental impact by driving through it, rather than polluting it. Please tread lightly.
With the Xtreme Recon package, the Wrangler boasts the best approach, departure and breakover angles in the dedicated 4×4 space – including the Sasquatch-package Ford Bronco.
What other Jeep Wrangler reviews and articles can I read?
2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Xtreme Recon First Drive | Bracing for Bigfoot
Jeep adds factory 35s and another lift. Is that enough to slay the ‘Squatch?
2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Road Test Review | Pounding pavement the American way
The V8 Wrangler is exactly what you think it is, and that’s OK.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe First Drive Review | The plug-in Wrangler is sneaky good
The best Wrangler is the one you won’t hear coming.
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Suspension Deep Dive
Climb underneath the ultimate JL Wrangler Unlimited (now with EcoDiesel!)
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Luggage Test | How much can you bring to the Rubicon in a Rubicon?
The four-door JL is supposedly a family vehicle. Oh yeah? Let’s see.
2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel First Drive Review | You asked for it …
The long-awaited diesel is here with 500-plus miles of range and a big price tag.
2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review | Improving an Icon
Building a better Wrangler means more comfort, tech, and capability than ever before.
How much is the 2021 Wrangler and what features are available?
Pricing for the 2022 Wrangler has not yet been announced, but the 2021 model started at $29,810, including a $1,495 destination charge. The four-door Wrangler Unlimited starts at $33,310. The 2021 Wrangler 4xe, which is four-door only, started at $49,490, but that was before at least $7,500 in tax credits. The new Rubicon 392 started at $74,995. We expect both pricing adjustments and a hike to the destination charge for the 2022 model year.
The basic Wrangler is a two-door Sport with a manual transmission. Few vehicles on the road today have as little standard equipment as the Wrangler. It has manual locks and mirrors, air conditioning is optional, and 17-inch wheels are steel. A touchscreen infotainment interface is the rare bit of modernity, but its 5-inch size pales in comparison to the available 7- and 8.4-inch units. Of course, this is but the tip of the iceberg as there is a dizzying number of options available, from powertrains and 4×4 systems, to fancy creature comforts like a heated steering wheel and adaptive cruise control.
There are three core Wrangler trim levels: the base Sport, Rubicon and four-door-only Sahara. The latter mostly adds creature comforts, while the Rubicon represents the Wrangler in its most off-road-ready form. Its additions include locking differentials, skid plates, 33-inch tires and electronic disconnecting sway bars.
The Xtreme Recon package adds factory 35” tires and a slightly shorter rear axle ratio, a 1.5-inch lift and beadlock-capable wheels to the Willys, Rubicon or Rubicon 392.
There are also several models that are technically packages applied to one of the core trim levels: Willys Sport, Islander, Willys, 80th Anniversary, Freedom, Sport Altitude, Sahara Altitude and High Altitude. These mostly alter the Wrangler’s appearance.
What are the Wrangler safety ratings and driver assistance features?
There isn’t much to speak of when it comes to active safety tech for the Wrangler, but adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with automatic braking are at least available on the automatic-equipped Sahara or Rubicon. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are also available as an option.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the four-door Wrangler the best-possible rating of “Good” for its performance in the Moderate Overlap Front, Side and Roof Strength crash tests. It got the second-worst “Marginal” rating in the Small Overlap Front crash test, however, in part because it flipped onto its side after striking the crash barrier. Needless to say, that’s not ideal. Neither are its headlight ratings, which were “Marginal” or “Poor” depending on equipment. At least the available forward collision avoidance system received top marks.