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2007 - 2010 Jeep Wrangler - Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2010

Still with the slotted grille and boxy design that dates back to the Second World War, the 2007 to 2010 Wrangler rides on the largest, most civilized and safest platform in the model’s history. It is also the first generation to offer a four-door model: the Wrangler Unlimited. Twenty inches longer than the two-door, the Unlimited offers greater cargo space, seating for five and the option of four-wheel drive (two-door versions come with four-wheel drive as standard). It also offers some Wrangler safety firsts, like available side-impact airbags, plus traction and stability control.

Why you want it

Aside from the obvious fun factor, the Wrangler has many advantages over its rivals. Where the Toyota FJ Cruiser’s roof and doors remain fixed, the Wrangler’s can be removed for maximum fresh-air adventuring. Where the Ford Explorer’s ability is limited by soft suspension and minimal ground clearance, the Wrangler can be equipped to tackle the toughest landscapes. And while the Jeep Grand Cherokee doesn’t hesitate at a lack of pavement, it also costs more – and the roof still can’t be removed.

Above all, the 2007 to 2010 Wrangler is perfect for spending weekdays navigating the urban jungle, then heading for the great outdoors whenever there’s a chance. Assuming the truck-like ride, poor fuel economy and low-rent plastic interior aren’t deal-breakers, about the only other negative centers around the two-door model’s poor side-impact crash test performance. If this is an issue, consider the four-door. It performs better in the same test, as well as offering optional side-impact airbags.

Notable features and options

Models include the X, Sahara, Unlimited and Rubicon. In 2010, the Islander, Mountain and Sport joined the lineup. In basic form, the Wrangler X features Jeep’s Command-Trac shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, a six-speed manual transmission, 3.8-liter V6 engine, removable soft top, AM/FM stereo with CD player and six speakers, vinyl seats, removable half-doors with plastic windows, 16-inch steel wheels and protective skid plates. Hill Start Assist was added in 2009. Front air bags, electronic traction control and stability control with roll mitigation are standard on all models.

The most competent Wrangler in the wilds is the Rubicon, featuring the Sunrider sliding soft top, Dana 44 front and rear axles, Rock-Trak part-time four-wheel drive, electronic locking front and rear differentials, electronic disconnecting front anti-roll bar (for greater suspension travel when off-roading), 17-inch aluminum wheels with off-road tires and a matching spare wheel.

Available features vary by trim, but include power windows, power door locks, full or half removable doors, air conditioning, navigation, front side airbags, the three-piece Freedom Top hard roof, 368-watt Infinity sound system, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a wide variety of dealer-installed accessories.

Model milestones

2007: The all-new Wrangler debuts, featuring the first-ever four-door Unlimited.

2008: The X is offered with right-hand drive in North America; standard equipment now includes a tire pressure monitoring system; remote start is optional.

2009: Hill Start Assist and Trailer Sway Control become standard. Improvements to the 3.8-liter V6 raise output to 205 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque.

2010: Further small improvements include a new dome light, front fog lights, front tow hooks and an outside temperature gauge. The Sport gains cloth front seats, while the Sunrider soft top is redesigned for easier operation.

Engines and performance

For the 2007 to 2010 Wrangler, Jeep offered only one engine: a 3.8-liter V6 coupled to either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic. This generation’s additional size and weight doesn’t help, but considering the rather dismal real-world economy figures (14 miles per gallon around town is par for the course), it seems a little short of oomph.

However, plenty of low-end torque keeps the Jeep off-road reputation untarnished. The Wrangler has small front and rear overhangs for an approach angle of 44.3 degrees, a break-over angle of 25.4 degrees and a departure angle of 40.4 degrees. Drop the shift-on-the-fly two-speed transfer case into Low and the Wrangler can practically climb walls. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but try taking any number of car-based crossovers where the Wrangler can go. And take a tow rope.

On the flip side, the suspension is designed first and foremost for off-road ability. The solid front and rear axles, stiff suspension and big tires don’t exactly deliver a Cadillac-like ride on paved roads. The handling is tenuous at best, with vague steering feel and a lot of body roll. If unpaved excursions are not part of the plan, consider something like the Subaru Forester, which offers permanent all-wheel drive, a car-like ride and good fuel economy. Plus, unlike the Forester (and just about every other all-wheel-drive crossover), the Wrangler cannot use its four-wheel drive system on dry pavement. It’s only intended for off-road use or in low-speed conditions where the wheels can slip (such as when driving through deep snow or mud).

Recalls, safety ratings and warranties

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2007 to 2010 Jeep Wrangler.

2007 to 2010: Possible contact between brake hoses and front fender liners could cause the hoses to leak over time.

2007: Possible software glitch could cause engine stalling; defective ABS controller may cause a momentary delay in braking when coasting uphill; defective ABS software may cause rear brakes to lock up under certain conditions.

2007 to 2008: Some automatic transmissions possibly missing their transmission fluid temperature control system; possible contact between rear brake hoses and steering components in right-hand-drive models – this contact could lead to the hose wearing and rupturing.

2009: Possible wiring defect could prevent the driver’s-side airbag from deploying properly.

2010: Possible defective brake hose end flare could allow a fluid leak and possible loss of braking power.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. A dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety-wise, the 2007 to 2010 Wrangler fares much better than its predecessors, but not as well as many competitors. The NHTSA gives the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited five stars in its front-end crash test, and four stars in its rollover test. The government did not perform a side impact test for either model.

However, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) did perform side impact testing and evaluated the four-door Unlimited without side airbags as Marginal, while the two-door version without side airbags earned a Poor score. Both the two-door and four-door models received the institute’s highest rating of Good in the frontal offset crash test.

The 2007 Jeep Wrangler has a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty and a three-year/36,000-mile powertrain warranty. In 2008, Jeep offered a lifetime powertrain warranty on all Wranglers sold after July 26, 2007. Unfortunately, this is not transferable.

Jeep changed its conditions again for 2010, providing the same basic coverage but with a new, fully transferable five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Purchasing through one of Jeep’s Certified Pre-Owned programs provides the option for additional coverage up to eight years/100,000 miles.

Word on the web

We searched Consumer Reports and CarComplaints.com, plus enthusiast sites such as Wranglerforums.com to see what owners had to say. While the 2007 model receives average-to-below-average marks, 2009 and newer versions do better, scoring only a few low marks for squeaks and rattles, power equipment problems, and some minor transmission issues.

There is high praise for the Wrangler’s off-road talents and tough mechanical components, but not so much love for the cheap and easily breakable plastic parts, the hard-to-fasten soft top or the manually adjustable side mirror (as in “push the mirror glass with your hand”).

There are also more than a few posts regarding the “death wobble.” This occurs when owners swap out the factory front track bar for an aftermarket upgrade. Apparently, some aftermarket replacement bolts can come loose, causing the front end to wobble uncontrollably at high speed. While this obviously isn’t a factory defect, it’s worth mentioning because so many owners modify their vehicles for serious off-road use. Installing an adjustable bar seems to be the most-prescribed fix.

Auto Trader recommendations

Since 2007 was the first year for the new Wrangler, it’s best to shoot for a 2008 or newer. These seem to have fewer complaints and there are more features, especially on the 2010. Serious off-roaders should look at the Rubicon. It costs a bit more, but is better suited for serious terrain and comes well equipped. However, all models use the same engine and transmission, so those looking to do extensive home-grown modifications might as well go for the base X or Sport and spend the money saved on aftermarket parts.

Competitive set

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Nissan Xterra

Suzuki Grand Vitara

Ford Explorer

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2007 - 2010 Jeep Wrangler - Used Car Review - Autotrader