It’s been a while since I got behind the wheel of a long-term car. When I got the keys to the Jeep Wrangler from my colleague Fadi, he had a few words of caution for me: “This isn’t the most suitable car for the city. Don’t expect it to be a comfortable cruiser on highways either.” My expectations were low anyway, as he had said the same in the two reviews he had done. But after spending close to a week with it, I must say that I like the Wrangler.

For all its rough and rugged looks, this isn’t bad at all to drive around in the city. The first thing that strikes me after climbing in is how comfortable the seats are. No fancy perforated leather or elaborate stitching here, but the Jeep’s fabric front buckets are among the most supportive in any car by far. The ride is not the cushiest, but still acceptable around town for a purpose-built off-road vehicle. The steering is also light and easy, relaying the right amount of feedback to your palms, and making light work of parking jobs.

Fadi had mentioned how spartan the Jeep’s interior is and how basic the controls are and lamented the absence of anything ‘automatic’ in there. Well, my view is that the Wrangler has more than enough automatic controls, considering its positioning as a utilitarian vehicle. Air-conditioning is automatic, so are the power windows, and it can be locked and unlocked centrally. The steering wheel is multifunctional with buttons for everything from cruise control (yes, it’s got that too) and Bluetooth phone connection to the menu of vehicle settings and information placed conveniently on either side. And having never grown used to electronic nannies like blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assist, parking assistance, etc, I don’t miss those in the Jeep.

All is not rosy though. While the ride is bearable, wind noise rises to bothersome levels at speeds beyond 90kph, so this isn’t a car that will offer you a serene, fatigue-free cross-country drive.

What’s more, whether you are on the highway or in town, its fuel efficiency is dismal with the 3.6-litre V6 returning an average of just 14.4 litres per 100km. However, and as you’d expect, off the beaten track is where it shines; I took it for some light off-roading and was impressed but it’ll be interesting to see how big a difference the performance and suspension upgrades make to it once they’re installed.

 

The progress

Week 1
Iconic off-roader arrives at the wheels HQ. A tougher than usual test awaits it as we plan to send it back twice to get cosmetic and performance upgrades made to it by the official dealer. This is going to be an interesting long-term test.

Highs: Tough old thing

Lows: Lacks equipment

Week 2
Spoilt rotten by all the ultra-modern test cars he gets to drive, Fadi finds the Jeep lacking in convenience features. He is pretty unhappy that he has to actually remember to switch the headlights off before getting out of the vehicle. Well...

Highs: Thoroughly enjoyable to drive

Lows: You need to get unused to all the electronic aids