Dirt seems to be magnetically attracted to Jeeps. Which is understandable when you consider the Jeep’s off-road pedigree, and the 70-year bloodline of this battlefield-born, all-purpose sport-ute.
The Jeep Wrangler is easily recognized as the “classic Jeep.” The “Unlimited” name, attached to a particular type of Jeep, refers to the recent addition of a stretched-out, four-dour version that first debuted as a 2007 model at the New York auto show four years ago.
At first glance, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited might not be considered particularly unique since, despite its larger dimensions, it meticulously follows the old formula and traditional styling cues of the original two-door.
But Chrysler boasts that it is the only four-door, five-passenger SUV convertible on the market. And that specialized SUV market, with true off-road emphasis, is fast becoming a monopoly, thanks to the thinning of the ranks — the diminishment of HUMMER and the uncertain future of Toyota’s FJ Cruiser.
With more room for passengers and payload, the four-door formula seems to be working. In fact, I’d come to believe that I was seeing more Jeep Wrangler Unlimited four-doors out there than original two-door versions.
For 2010, Jeep has added equipment upgrades across the Wrangler Unlimited lineup. A new and improved Sunrider soft top, which includes a “sun roof” and full top-down option, makes it easier to remove the roof for that open-air experience.
A Freedom Top three-piece modular hard top with removable panels is also available. Fog lamps, tow hooks, and a compass and outside temperature readout are now standard across the lineup.
Jeep has also reworked the dome lamp, installed bigger sliding sun visors with mirrors, adjusted the exterior colour palette and, among option packages, is offering new wheel styles and a Uconnect phone and navigation system.
The 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has the familiar 3.8-litre V6 engine making 202 hp and 237 lb/ft.
Those numbers sound diminutive, considering the Unlimited’s 1957 kg curb weight but the old OHV V6 responded with a roar and I enjoyed it, probably because I was making the most of the power through a long-throw six-gear manual transmission that chucks delightfully into gear and vibrates at speed like a drunk at a revival meeting.
The top-of-the-line Rubicon model I tested went a long way to smoothing some of the rougher edges with two-tone slate gray leather seating, an upgraded audio and navigation system and all the bells and whistles expected in a modern SUV.