A different Wrangler

Before the Jeep Unlimited Unlimited’s 2007 model debut, Jeep lovers looking for size options were restricted to aftermarket alterations, done by shops like the WhataJeep garages I once visited in Amarillo, Texas. Their six-door canvas-roofed, stretched limo versions and pickup conversions are still worth checking out online.

 

 

Now, a few of the dedicated die-hards, with all the possessiveness that passion gives you, may have been dismayed when the company committed to making this factory-built stretched-out model. But anyone that’s lived with the pitch-and-yaw of the short-wheelbase version, banged their shins and suffered leg cramps up front or tried to cram kids and cargo in back, wouldn’t take long to realize that a roomier four-door can only be a blessing, while still in the guise of the bush-bashing original.

 

 

Sometimes brand romance and tradition can only go so far.

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited stretches the latest generation JK platform by 52 cm to a 2946 mm (116”) wheelbase. And, yeah, while it’s bigger and wider, the four-door Unlimited still offers a best-in-class approach angle of 44.4 degrees, breakover angle of 20.8 degrees, and also a best-in-class 40.5 degree departure angle for tough trails and rock-hopping.

I find the Jeep Unlimited deceptive in size. Its boxy shape doesn’t look all that much bigger from the outside but climb into the seats and it feels like the big SUV it is. With a high vantage point and utilitarian interior, the Jeep Unlimited emanates a trucky feel and flavour in everything from the engine roar to the stiff suspension, ride and handling.

This was emphasized in my as tested Sahara model by the standard manual six-speed shifter. An optional four-speed automatic is available for about a thousand bucks or so more.

Under the hood, the Unlimited harnesses a 3.8-litre OHV V6 making 202 hp and 238 lb/ft of torque. It’s not hard to stay within the ballpark of economy ratings of 14.1/10.8L/100 km (city/hwy).

There’s enough big-six torque to skip shifts if you feel like attentively keeping the revs near the 1000 rpm mark. And a tall manual sixth gear has the motor loping at an easy 1800 rpms at highway speed.

Other changes and additions for this year’s model include a drop-in bin with coin slots added to the full center console, storage nets added to lower centre stack and side of the centre console and two new colours — Sunburst Orange Pearl and the very handsome Deep Water Blue Pearl that my tester came dipped in.

This is not just a vehicle. It’s a lifestyle choice, carrying forward all the traditional flavour and open-top driving style of the original.

2009 Jeep WranglerUnlimited

Highlights

• Spacious

• New colours

Type: Four-door sport utility

Price: from $24,695

Engine: 3.8-litre OHV V6 (202 hp/238 lb/ft)

 
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