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Jeep Wrangler 2019 review: Overland four door

This latest Wrangler is a great-looking car designed for fun, but it's credentials as a family hauler fall a little short.

When you think Jeep, it's hard not to think about cars designed for the kind of rugged off-roading aimed at getting lost, stuck or both. It's a thrill most of us bitumen-bound suburban drivers will never come close to experiencing.

Enter the Jeep Wrangler 2019 Overland.

For my weekend test I'm driving the four-door version priced at $62,950. For my weekend test I'm driving the four-door version priced at $62,950.

For my weekend test I'm driving the four-door version priced at $62,950. For that price, you'll get leather seats, a colour-coded removable hardtop and wheel arches, 18-inch wheels, active cruise control, LED lights all around, proximity keys, an 8.4-inch multimedia screen with sat nav, and front parking sensors.

So, how will this off-road hauler cope with the challenges of suburban and city driving? My kids and I had the weekend to find out.

Saturday

Our schedule today consisted of the usual soccer game in the morning, followed by lunch out and then a trip to the park in the afternoon. 

It's seriously imposing in black (a $745 option), but either way the Overlander looks more muscular and menacing than the previous generation, and it conveys an impressive amount of kerb appeal in four-door form.

It's seriously imposing in black, with LED lights. It's seriously imposing in black, with LED lights.

While the exterior design remains familiar, there are some key differences from the previous model, notably a 61mm increase in wheelbase length and a 90kg weight saving.

Keen Wrangler fans will also note the windscreen has been angled back further, and that the external bonnet latches have been relocated towards the front of the car. The (removable) three-piece hard cover roof, as well as the removable doors and folding windscreen, remain.

For those interested in taking their Overlander off bitumen, overall clearance has also been improved, with all variants now boasting a 34.8-degree approach angle and 29-degree departure angle, 242mm of ground clearance and a 760mm wading depth.

For those interested in taking their Overlander off bitumen, overall clearance has also been improved. For those interested in taking their Overlander off bitumen, overall clearance has also been improved.

Rarely do my three kids get excited about any car, but the Jeep has obviously made an impression on them as they greeted the Wrangler with whoops of joy and chants of "Jeep!". 

The Wranglers ride height and prominent door sills did not phase the kids when getting in and out, however the back door opening is quite narrow, a feature parents with baby capsules may need to consider.

The cabin fit and finish is a major step up from the previous generation and feels a more special place to spend time, with lashings of black leather covering the seats, steering wheel and gear knob.  I'm a big fan of the little Jeep graphics selectively positioned around the car for occupants to discover. A nice touch.

Passenger space in the back is good for kids and adults alike. Passenger space in the back is good for kids and adults alike.

Passenger space in the back is good for kids and adults alike. Sitting in the rear seat I had almost a hand-width of space in front of my knees, with plenty of headroom to spare. Back seat comfort needs are well catered to via air vents, two cupholders in the armrest, as well as USB and 12-volt charge points for rear passengers.

Back seat comfort needs are well catered to with rear air vents. Back seat comfort needs are well catered to with rear air vents.

Boot size is a generous 897 litres with the rear seats up and 2050 litres with the seats folded almost flat.

Boot size is a generous 897 litres with the rear seats up. Boot size is a generous 897 litres with the rear seats up.

Space and comfort for front passengers is ample but slightly compromised by the transmission case encroaching into the drivers foot well, leaving my left foot awkwardly positioned and way too close to the pedals for my liking.

Sunday

An easier schedule for the Wrangler today, with just a trip to the local shops in the morning followed by the cinema in the afternoon.

Powering the Wrangler Overland is a revised version of the 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6 which produces a punchy 209kW and 347Nm and is matched to the same eight-speed automatic found in the Grand Cherokee. Braked towing capacity is rated at 2495kg.

For a rugged 4X4 it delivers a decent amount of comfort and reasonable stability. For a rugged 4X4 it delivers a decent amount of comfort and reasonable stability.

For a rugged 4X4 it delivers a decent amount of comfort and reasonable stability around the suburban and city streets. That said, the Wrangler did not inspire confidence around bends, and in particular on the wet roads we encountered over the weekend which were best navigated in four-wheel-drive high. On open roads at speeds over 70km/h, wind noise within the cabin became increasingly apparent.

From a standing start, it will reach 100km/hr in a respectable 7.9secs. From a standing start, it will reach 100km/hr in a respectable 7.9secs.

The V6 was responsive under foot, providing plenty of acceleration when called on to extract us from the various tricky traffic jams we encountered. From a standing start, it will reach 100km/hr in a respectable 7.9secs.

There's a decent amount of tech within the cabin, with the easy-to-use 8.4-inch multimedia screen taking centre stage. We made good use of the car's Alpine nine-speaker stereo system which delivered a seriously impressive sound. Further good news is the fact Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard.

There's a decent amount of tech within the cabin, with an easy-to-use 8.4-inch multimedia screen. There's a decent amount of tech within the cabin, with an easy-to-use 8.4-inch multimedia screen.

As the recipient of a one-star ANCAP rating, the safety story for Wrangler Overland is not a great one. It does, however, have AEB, dual front and side airbags, blind-spot monitoring, active cruise control, parking sensors, a reversing camera and a tyre pressure-monitoring system.

For parents with small kids, there are the usual two ISOFIX points and three top-tether points across the back seat. 

The safety story for Wrangler Overland is not great but it does include AEB and a reversing camera. The safety story for Wrangler Overland is not great but it does include AEB and a reversing camera.

Across the weekend we covered around 250km, with the trip computer displaying a fuel consumption reading of 11.7 litres/100km from the 81-litre tank. Somewhat higher than Jeep's claimed combined figure of 9.7 litres/100km.


The Wrap

I love the ethos of Jeep, and this latest Wrangler is another great expression of that; a great-looking car designed for fun. While there may be plenty for off-road enthusiasts to love about the Wrangler, its credentials as a family hauler fall a little short, with its safety rating and on-road manners hard to overlook.

Likes

Tough looks
Premium cabin space
Punchy engine

Dislikes

Safety rating
Cramped driver foot well
Handling in the wet

Scores

Dan:

3.6

The Kids:

4

$61,950

Based on new car retail price

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