What do you get when you mix a Convertible, a SUV and a Transformer? The answer is the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
Meet Bumblebee (yes, we name our cars), he is a 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4 X 2 and he is a whole lot of fun. Yes, I know in this day of high fuel prices that he was probably not the most fuel efficient vehicle we could have chosen, but it is the car my husband has wanted for over two years and since it was time to finally get rid of the 16 year old car he had been driving, he got to choose. We have had it for a little over a month now and although the listed mileage for the car is 17/21, we have been averaging about 23, so it's not as bad as we thought it was going to be.
This is a base model 2 wheel drive 6 speed. The only add ones above the base price were for the paint color, yes who would have thought bright yellow would cost more but it does, floor mats, Trac-Lok, on/off road tires, 16" aluminum wheels and side steps. This is our second wrangler, the last one was a 2000 model and we love all the improvements that have been made in the new Unlimited.
The interior of the car is huge. It is bigger inside than my station wagon and many of the SUV's we had test driven. There is plenty of leg room in both the front and rear seats. The Unlimited is wider than regular Wranglers so the back seat accommodates 3 passengers. There is also a huge trunk which has more cargo space than my station wagon does. The unlimited has 60/40 split fold down rear seats and the head rests move so that the seats fold down flat making it the size of a pick up bed.
We opted for the factory stereo which is a single CD, MP3 capable system that has 4 6.5 inch speakers. For a factory unit, this stereo really rocks. The biggest improvement here is that you can actually hear it when the top is off. There are 2 speakers located in the front instrument panel and 2 located in the overhead roll bar so that the backseat passengers can hear it too. They have also added 2 tombstone shaped tweeters to the dashboard for directional sound. In our old Jeep we would have to turn the sound all the way up to hear it when we were driving and if we had to stop at a light or something, it would be blaring.
Now for the Transformer part and what makes a Jeep special. We have the soft top model so the top comes off. With the Unlimited, you no longer have to take the whole top off. You now have the option of only opening it over the 2 front seat passengers which gives you a 56 x 40 sunroof. They have added glass windows to the passenger compartment instead of the old zip off kind. This means less parts to take off and store when you take the top off and if you need to open the window, you simply crank it down instead of having to unzip it and pull it in on yourself. In the old Wrangler this was no fun when it was raining, you would get wet. Jeep has also redesigned the top with a three ply material and added additional ways to secure it and seal it when the top is up. This combined with the glass windows, makes it so much more quiet inside when the top is on than the old Wrangler was. The doors still come off but they have made it harder to do since the door now has a sensor in it that tells the driver if a door is open. The windshield also still folds down if you want a true open air experience.
Safety features include Sentry Key anti theft engine immobilizer, front and seat mounted air bags that inflate with force appropriate for the impact, anti lock brakes and ESP which is an electronic stability program. For your belongings inside the car, there is a locking glove box, a locking box in the center console and a secured storage bin under the rear floor. The only access to this bin is to unlock the back door. For the protection of the interior when the top is off, most parts are weather proof. The interior carpet is removable and there are even drains built into the floor so you could even hose it out if you wanted to.
We really enjoyed out old Wrangler but as out family grew, it got traded in for something more practical. Now we are very happy to return to the Jeep family with the Unlimited. It has all the things we liked about the old Jeep in a new, bigger, improved model. I highly recommend this car for both fun and family.
Update On Oct 23, 2008: We have had this Jeep for a little over 3 months now and love it. My husband took it to the dealer to get the oil change and there they found a problem with the roof. There was a small tear (less than 1/2 an inch) in the fabric at one of the points where the roof folds back. We were surprised by it since we have folded to roof back less than a dozen times since we have owned it. My husband asked how it could have happened and what needed to be done to repair it. He was told that the have had several cars already in with this same tear in the same place and all they could do was replace the entire roof. The cost for the new roof was $2, 000.00. Since it was covered under the warrenty we had nothing to pay to get it fixed.