Prior Convictions: Wrangling with change
Over the years, American carmakers have often fretted that they couldn’t possibly move away from their established practices for fear of upsetting loyal, repeat customers.
I’ve heard it said about everything from leaf springs to live axles, and sometimes, no doubt, it’s been true; although sports car customers seem to have embraced independent suspension without too much trouble. But it would be especially true, you imagine, when it comes to the Jeep Wrangler. That is a car, I suspect, that you mess with at your peril.
Now the latest generation Wrangler is here, and on display this week at the Los Angeles auto show. The Wrangler can, indirectly, trace its roots back to the second world war but it is still massive business: Jeep sells more than 200,000 of them a year. Like Sellotape and Hoover, Jeep has, for many people, become a generic term. See a big 4×4? “He was driving some Jeep thing.”
And so, sensibly, Chrysler hasn’t messed with it. Looks good, doesn’t it? I think so, especially the 2dr version, though you can have a 4dr variant too.
As well as updating, rather successfully to my eyes, the Jeep’s appearance for the 2019 model year, the hardware has been renewed, too. But it’s still a body-on-chassis off-roader, with solid front and rear axles. There is a low-range transfer case, all models get skid plates front and rear and it has what Jeep is claiming are the best off-road credentials in the business. The approach angle is 44 degrees, the departure angle 37, and there’s a 27.8 degree breakover. Ground clearance is 277mm and it can wade through 762mm of water.