- Legendary off-road capabilities
- Roof off, doors off driving fun
- New 4xe plug-in hybrid
- Unrefined on-road performance
- Stripped-out base model
- Options add up fast
The excellent Jeep Wrangler is built to provide incredible off-road capability with iconic visual appeal. It’s engineered from the ground up to take on rough, technical terrain. The Wrangler’s on-road driving manners are primitive compared to essentially any modern crossover, but it has nonetheless earned legions of fans over the decades.
The Wrangler is available in two- or four-door configurations, with soft- or hard top roofs—including a roof option you can remove altogether. Gasoline, diesel, and hybrid engines are offered for 2021. It competes with other off-road SUVs including the Toyota 4Runner, Land Rover Defender, and the upcoming Ford Bronco.
As it has been in years past, the Wrangler is an IntelliChoice Best Overall Value winner for 2021.
Like the Wrangler’s styling and capability, but need a pickup truck? Check out the Jeep Gladiator.
- Mild hybrid 3.6-liter V-6 standard with automatic transmission
- Wrangler 392 joins the lineup
- 2.0-liter turbo-four no longer has mild hybrid assistance
- 4xe plug-in hybrid model introduced
- Full-time 4WD system becomes optional
- New off-road features added for Rubicon model
- Available grille-mounted off-roading camera
- Islander and 80th Anniversary special edition trims offered
- Half-doors now available
- Xtreme Recon Package for 392 and Rubicon adds 35-inch tires, a 1.5-inch lift, 4.56:1 axle ratio, and wider 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels
What We Think
Adeptly combining modern appeal with a beloved heritage, the Wrangler earned MotorTrend‘s 2019 SUV of the Year award. Over tough trails, its capabilities are nearly unmatched, allowing drivers of many skill levels to explore unpaved terrain. It now delivers a reasonably civilized on-road driving experience, too. But if off-road ability isn’t a high priority, nearly any similarly sized crossover will ride smoother, handle better, and likely be more fuel efficient. The Wrangler’s busy ride and vague steering kept it from taking the top spot in our affordable off-road comparison.
Regardless of how you enjoy the Jeep, the Wrangler is surprisingly high tech despite its old-school looks. Jeep’s infotainment system is one of our favorites, but some newer active-safety and driver-assist features are unavailable. Crash safety isn’t a Wrangler strong suit, either.
With its wide range of trim levels, options, and accessories, there’s a Wrangler to suit any preference. That it’s now offered with turbodiesel, impressive plug-in hybrid, and raucous V-8 powertrains only broadens its appeal. Plus, the Wrangler Willys might be the best daily-driving Wrangler ever built. And if you needed more motivation to buy a Wrangler, it offers the best resale value in the automotive industry by far. Rooted in the past yet built for today, the Wrangler is truly an automotive icon.
Check out our pros and cons review of the Wrangler 392 and 4xe right here.
Performance and Fuel Economy
As expected from a proper Jeep, all Wranglers are 4WD regardless of powertrain. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and an eight-speed automatic is available.
The Wrangler’s basic engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 producing 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. When paired to an automatic transmission, it receives Jeep’s eTorque mild-hybrid assist system. In MotorTrend testing, a Wrangler Rubicon with this engine and a manual transmission posted a 0-60 time of 7.4 seconds. A Wrangler Sahara with this engine and the automatic hit 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy is 17/25 mpg city/highway for manual-equipped two-door models, or 17/23 mpg for four-door models. Fuel economy is 20/24 mpg for automatic-equipped two-door models, or 19/24 mpg for four-door models.
A 2.0-liter turbo-four produces 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This engine is only available with an automatic transmission. Unlike last year, eTorque hybrid assistance is no longer paired to this engine. MotorTrend testing measured an 8.0-second 0-60 mph time from a Wrangler Rubicon with the turbo-four. EPA-rated fuel economy is 22/24 mpg for two-door models, and 21/24 mpg for four-door models.
A 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 makes 260 hp and a stout 422 lb-ft of torque, sent through an automatic transmission. This “EcoDiesel” engine is only available in four-door Wrangler models. MotorTrend recorded a 7.5-second 0-60 mph time from a diesel Wrangler Rubicon. EPA-rated fuel economy is 22/29 mpg, except for the Rubicon model, which gets 21/26 mpg.
New for 2021 is the 4xe plug-in hybrid powertrain, which couples the 2.0-liter turbo-four with an electric starter-generator and electric motor integrated into the automatic transmission. In conjunction with a 17-kWh battery, total output is 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Jeep is targeting a 50 mpg-e rating and 25 miles of all-electric range from the Wrangler 4xe. Read our first test review here.
Curious about even more adventurous options? Jeep explores the Wrangler’s performance potential with the 392 variant, which packs a 6.4-liter V-8 whipping out 470 hp. The EPA rates it at a pitiful 13/17 mpg city/highway. When we tested one, it reached 60 mph in a scant 4.2 seconds. It pairs with an eight-speed automatic.
Eco-minded off-roaders should wait for the fully electric BEV Concept‘s debut at the Easter Jeep Safari on March 27, 2021. In a recent statement, Jeep’s parent company Stellantis announced every Jeep model, including the Wrangler, will have a battery electric powertrain option by 2025.
How Quick Is the Wrangler 392?
Stuffing an overpowered engine inside a vehicle designed to be driven slowly makes little sense. But things don’t have to make sense to be awesome. Case in point: The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 392. That number refers to the cubic inches of its engine, which equates to 6.4 liters. This muscular mill cranks out 470 hp and an equal measure of torque, making it by far the most powerful factory-built Wrangler ever. It’s also the quickest stock Wrangler ever, launching to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds—astounding for a vehicle shod in 33-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires. Those tires limit the Wrangler 392’s top speed to 100 mph, the speed it carries as it crosses the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds. Yet for as quick as it is, our experience with the 392 in legendary Moab, Utah shows that it’s as good of an off-roader as any other Wrangler, partially thanks to its clever Hydro-Guide hood. What it’s not as good at as other Wranglers is getting decent fuel economy: The 392 is rated at 13/17 mpg city/highway by the EPA.
Which 4WD Systems Come on the Jeep Wrangler?
All Wranglers are equipped with 4WD, but different systems are available. The Wrangler’s standard 4WD system is called Command-Trac. It’s a part-time system that runs in RWD normally, but 4WD can be manually selected at speeds up to 55 mph. Once it’s in 4WD, there‘s a standard 50/50 torque split between the axles. It lacks a true locking differential, instead relying on a brake-based system in low-traction situations. Command-Trac has a 2.72:1 low-range ratio.
The Rubicon’s 4WD system is called Rock-Trac. With Rock-Trac the Rubicon is RWD unless 4WD is selected at speeds up to 55 mph. It runs a 50/50 torque split through its transfer case. It has a 4.0:1 low-range ratio and has true front and rear locking differentials. Rock-Trac also boasts a 73.1:1 crawl ratio.
There’s also the Selec-Trac full-time 4WD system, which has a 4-high mode that can engage automatically when loose conditions are detected. It also has a 2.72:1 low-range ratio.
The 2021 Wrangler has been partially evaluated by the NHTSA. Out of a possible five stars, it earned a four-star frontal crash score and a three-star rollover score. When evaluated by the IIHS for the 2020 model year, the Wrangler earned the top Good score in four crashworthiness tests. However, in the driver-side small front overlap test it got the second-lowest Marginal score, and the vehicle rolled onto its passenger side. Both its standard halogen headlights and available LED headlights earned a Poor score, the lowest.
Available driver-assist and active safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.
Cargo Space and Interior Room
In two-door Wranglers, cargo volume measures 12.9 cubic feet behind the second-row seats. With the second row folded, capacity increases to 31.7 cubic feet. In four-door Wranglers, cargo volume is 31.7 cubic feet behind the second-row seats. When the second row is folded, maximum cargo capacity is 72.4 cubic feet.
In all Wrangler models, front-row headroom measures 42.6 inches. Rear headroom is 41.7 inches. Front-row legroom is 41.2 inches. In two-door models, second-row legroom is 35.7 inches, while in four-door models it’s 38.3 inches.
The Wrangler’s standard infotainment display measures 5.0 inches and has Bluetooth connectivity. A 7.0-inch touchscreen is available, and adds Apple CarPlay, Android Auto. An available 8.4-inch touchscreen adds built-in navigation.
For 2021, Wranglers with either of the larger touchscreens get a tire air pressure alert system that honks the horn when the desired air pressure is reached. Models with the larger touchscreen get a front-facing camera to ease off-roading. One front-row USB port is fitted as standard, with an additional port included on higher-end trims; two second-row USB ports are optional. An eight-speaker audio system is standard, with an Alpine premium setup available.
2021 Jeep Wrangler Sport
- 17-inch black-painted steel wheels
- Fabric soft top
- Standard 5.0-inch infotainment display
- Cloth seating upholstery
2021 Jeep Wrangler Willys Sport
- Black-painted grille
- 32-inch mud-terrain tires
- Heavy-duty shocks and brakes
- Rear limited-slip differential
2021 Jeep Wrangler Sport S
- 17-inch silver-painted alloy wheels
- Heated power-adjustable side mirrors
- Standard 7.0-inch infotainment display
- Automatic climate control
2021 Jeep Wrangler Willys
- LED headlights and fog lamps
2021 Jeep Wrangler Altitude
- 18-inch black-painted alloy wheels
- Three-piece hard top
- Black interior accent stitching
2021 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
- 18-inch silver-painted alloy wheels
- Body-color fender flares
- Side steps
2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
- 33-inch all-terrain tires
- Electronic locking differential
- Sway bar disconnect
- 4.0:1 low-range ratio
2021 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Altitude
- Leather seating upholstery
- Body-color three-piece hard top
- Gloss black badges
2021 Jeep Wrangler High Altitude
- Body-color front and rear bumpers
- 4-inch infotainment display
- Quilted leather seating upholstery
- Blind-spot monitoring