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Car reviews - Jeep - Wrangler - 3.6 petrol range

Launch Story

2 Mar 2012

THE iconic Jeep Wrangler has received Chrysler Group’s Pentastar V6 petrol engine, providing a substantial performance improvement along with slightly reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions while Australian prices remain static, from $32,000 plus on-road costs.

Pentastar-powered petrol versions also now get a five-speed automatic transmission that has been doing service on the 2.8-litre diesel Wrangler, replacing the outdated four-speed unit.

Jeep also plans to introduce a flagship auto-only Limited Edition variant of the Wrangler in the first half of this year, which will be kitted out with leather upholstery, six-disc sound system, 18-inch alloy wheels, wheel-arch flares and body-coloured paint finish for the hardtop.

Although the new fourth-generation Grand Cherokee usurped the Wrangler as the brand’s best-selling model in Australia after it was released early last year, the Wrangler is selling strongly, having achieved a record 389 sales in December followed by 330 in January.

Combined with a strong 430 sales of the Grand Cherokee, 156 units of the recently re-introduced and facelifted Compass compact SUV and a leap in sales of the related Patriot, Jeep’s January sales of 1082 units represented a 175.3 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Chrysler Australia managing director Clyde Campbell told GoAuto the Wrangler’s recent success was a combination of customers buying a lifestyle vehicle to enjoy for the summer and dealers working to push out stock of MY2011 cars ahead of the arrival of MY2012 versions.

It was a record January for Chrysler Group in Australia, and Mr Campbell said early indicators were that February is shaping up to be the best month in company history.

He expects sales in 2012 will be double last year’s 12,000 – Chrysler’s best since 1994.

The new 3.6-litre, all-alloy Pentastar engine produces 209kW of power at 6350rpm and 347Nm of torque at 4300rpm – with 90 per cent available from just 1800rpm –63kW and 32Nm more than the 3.8-litre unit it replaces.

In addition to Jeep’s claims of more refinement and driving pleasure, the Pentastar is said to reduce the two-door Wrangler Sport’s 0-100km/h time from a leisurely 11.2 seconds down to a sprightly 8.1 seconds.

It also yields a slight reduction in combined fuel consumption, to 11.2 litres per 100 kilometres for the two-door Wrangler Sport – 0.3L/100km better than before – while CO2 output is 259 grams per kilometre.

Thanks to the new five-speed unit, opting for an automatic transmission – which remains a $2000 option – now has no effect on the petrol Wrangler’s 0-100km/h acceleration time.

As before, the automatic only increases combined fuel consumption by 0.1L/100km on the two-door.

“The extra refinement introduced by the new Pentastar V6, teamed with the five-speed automatic transmission, is part of the ongoing development of a core model in the Jeep range,” said Mr Campbell.

“The driver in particular will appreciate the punchy response and overall smoothness of the Wrangler’s new petrol engine.”

Four-cylinder diesel models continue as before, producing 147kW of power and a substantial 460Nm of torque (410Nm for the automatic) while consuming from 7.1L/100km (two-door manual) to 8.8L/100km (four-door automatic).

The two-door Wrangler is only available with the diesel engine by customer order.

The five-speed auto was added to the 2.8-litre diesel Wrangler a year ago, when it got a power upgrade and standard idle-stop technology on the six-speed manual transmission variant alongside an interior refresh for all variants. The premium for an automatic transmission on diesel variants remains $1000.

Apart from the addition of standard automatic climate-control air-conditioning, specification levels remain as before, with new options for the heavy-duty Rubicon model including heated and height-adjustable leather seats with map pockets, and body-coloured paint for the wheelarch flares and hardtop roof.

Other gadgets include an immobiliser and six-speaker sound with DVD, MP3 and external audio jack.

All Wranglers come with a four-star ANCAP crash-test rating, with standard safety equipment including multi-stage driver and front passenger airbags (front seat-mounted side airbags are an extra $450, ABS brakes and electronic stability control with brake assist and electronic roll mitigation.

The standard 17-inch alloy wheels are fitted with tyre pressure monitoring and the underside is beefed up with heavy-duty Dana axles and skid plates for the transfer case and fuel tank.

Rubicon models, which are not available with the diesel engine, are fitted with locking diffs, tougher Dana 44 solid front and rear axles, electronically controlled swaybar disconnect for greater wheel articulation, a tougher transfer case and heavy-duty rock rails, in addition to a higher specification that includes a soft-top and an audio system upgrade.

The options list includes a ‘Renegade’ pack comprising the hard-top, soft-top, privacy glass, tubular side steps and an upgraded sound system with Infinity speakers and subwoofer for $2500 on the two-door and $3000 on the four-door.

Further options comprise premium paint ($450), Bluetooth connectivity ($490) and satellite-navigation with media system upgrade for $2650 ($1750 when ordered with the Renegade pack).

The MY2012 Wrangler carries over last year’s interior upgrade, with improved acoustic deadening, improved ergonomics and the boxy utilitarian styling replaced by a chunky and curvaceous but still rugged-looking design.

It features silver-coloured highlights, chrome-ringed instruments and fewer areas of exposed metalwork, although allen-key bolt heads remain deliberately visible around the cabin.

A leather-bound multi-function steering wheel features a set of buttons for the audio, cruise control and optional Bluetooth functions while other touch surfaces such as armrests were improved.

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