2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Brings Practicality to Off-Road Excellence

2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited (Aaron)

No vehicle has more off-pavement credibility than the Jeep Wrangler and with the extra doors added to the four-door Wrangler Unlimited model, the Jeep suddenly transforms into a more family-friendly off-road powerhouse.

The manufacturer says

With its fender flares, iconic seven-slot grille and removable doors and top, the 2017 Wrangler Unlimited is stylishly capable and fun to drive.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Jeep
  • Year, Model: 2017 Wrangler Unlimited
  • Class, Type: Sport Utility
  • Propulsion system: V6, 4x4
  • Base Price: $27,895
  • MSRP as tested: $48,870
  • Availability: Now

Overview

The Jeep Wrangler is best known as the go-anywhere vehicle Americans depend on to get where others fear to tread. The base model Sport comes with plenty of off-pavement gear and a high ride height. The most capable Rubicon model adds lots of specialty gear for making the adventure ownable. With the Unlimited model, Jeep adds two extra doors with a limo-stretch to the Wrangler’s body, which also has the added benefit of more cargo space as well.

The four-door Unlimited is a great machine for getting more than just yourself and a friend into the wild blue yonder. The rear seat bench is far better than the church pew bench used in the two-door Wrangler and the rear cargo area in the Unlimited is about triple what’s available in that two-door model.

We were surprised at how capable this longer wheelbase 2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited model was, though, and how much more comfortable it is to drive. The shorter wheelbase of the smaller Jeep has its place in our hearts and on the market, but this longer wheelbase Unlimited model gives more ride comfort and better handling. Largely due to that extra weight and length.

Aside from the extra doors and bigger interior, though, the 2017 Wrangler Unlimited is basically the same as its two-door counterpart in every other way. A 3.6-liter V6 churns under the hood, producing 260 pound-feet and 285 horsepower into a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is standard in every Wrangler, of course, and towing in the heavier-framed Unlimited is rated at 3,500 pounds.

Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg combined, with 17 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. In real life, though, those numbers aren’t very likely to come to fruition, especially when off-roading in 4WD. Our average after a week of driving the 2017 Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited model was only 14 mpg and that included a lot of highway time.

Where things really get good in the Wrangler, though, is off the road out in the wilderness. A low crawl ratio, plenty of torque upticks through transmission, transfer case, and differentials, and a strong approach and decline angle are all great things. This Jeep is the flagship of the brand and is the benchmark against which all other SUVs are rated when it comes to off-pavement capability.

Inside, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has comfortable seating and a good layout. It’s rough and tumble, with every robust part promising to take a beating if need be. Infotainment is well below par, giving us the impression that it was made by Atari rather than being part of the modern, very capable Uconnect family from Chrysler. We love the huge amount of cargo space available in the Wrangler Unlimited, though, and its great versatility as an SUV.

What we like

Lots of space in this four-door model with plenty of cargo as well.

Unlimited model retains the off-road excellence of the Jeep Wrangler brand.

What we don't

Very sub-par infotainment with an extremely outdated interface.

Not the most comfortable highway drive ever and fuel economy is very low.

Conclusions

If you have need of a serious off-road machine, then the Wrangler is definitely your bag. As an everyday vehicle, the Unlimited model adds a lot of versatility and usability, but fuel economy and other considerations for daily use are well below par. Unless serious off-roading is on your list of requirements, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is probably not what you need. Sometimes, of course, need has little to do with it and if you’re even an occasional outdoor “get there, no matter what” type, the 2017 Wrangler Unlimited fits your style and will offer the family-friendliness you might need to make it doable.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The Wrangler Unlimited was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, a total of over 300 miles were put on the vehicle in varied driving conditions, including hardcore off-roading and inclement weather.

This site follows the emergence, application and development of transportation innovation. Reference to manufacturers, makes and models, and other automotive-related businesses are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by FutureCars.com.

futurefuel