Chances are when you hear the name “Jeep,” the first image that comes to mind is the Wrangler. You picture the trademark grill on the front with the rounded headlights and the rugged yet stylish rectangular design that has “take me on an adventure!” written all over it. This is no accident. Since the 1940s, Jeep has built their brand to be synonymous with freedom, adventure, and off-road excellence. 80 years later, they continue that legacy with the all-new 2021 Jeep Wrangler while simultaneously switching gears and announcing the release of their very first plug-in hybrid model.
For the Oldies and the Newbies
Born in 1986, the Jeep Wrangler has since built an army of loyal drivers, which is not surprising given Jeep’s decorated military heritage. Over the years, they’ve made sure to stay true to the Wrangler’s classic design while adding modern touches to keep it looking fresh and tacking on state-of-the-art technological features that put it on the cutting edge of the midsize SUV market.
The result? A perfect combination of the legendary off-road reputation that Jeep-lovers have come to expect and all of the modern tech fixings that a buyer could ask for. So whether you’re a diehard off-roader itching to get your hands on the newest model, or you’re just beginning to indulge your Jeep curiosity, you can be sure the Wrangler has a little something for the adventurer in you.
If it Ain’t Broke…
The unmistakable Wrangler exterior is back this model year to ensure that whether you’re cruising through the city or trekking through the mud, you’re going to look good doing it. Coming standard on every model is the Sunrider Soft Top with an available upgrade to a black 3-piece hardtop. Higher trims like the Sahara and Rubicon offer a few different Premium Sunrider Soft Top styles, the option for a body-color hardtop, or the Sky One-Touch Power-Top for those of us who like to feel like we’re in the cockpit of a fighter jet while driving. Just push the button and watch the roof slide back to give you that convertible feel. Still not satisfied? You can easily remove the rear windows for even more open-air freedom.
Trail-ready 17-in wheels roll off the lot with every model except the Sahara, which sports 18-in polished wheels to give you that extra bit of ground clearance and terrain-tackling potential. Off-road tires are standard on the Rubicon model, with optional mud and terrain tires if your adventures have you getting down and dirty. Whatever combination you choose, you’ll be looking and feeling ready for whatever the road throws at you. If the past 34 years have told us anything, it’s that you can’t go wrong with the bold yet playful style and unapologetic attitude of the Wrangler.
Inside the Box
Whether you’re a minimalist, bare-bones type of buyer, or you enjoy having all the comforts and conveniences that money can buy, the 2021 Wrangler can be dressed up or down to suit your specific style. When it comes to the interior, there are a couple of things to note, however. Compared to other vehicles in its class, the Wrangler tends to lag behind in the cargo department.
If you typically find yourself taking you and a car full of friends out for an adventure, the Unlimited 4-door models will be preferable to the standard 2-doors. Classic 2-door models seat up to four passengers, while the 4-doors give you room for one more. Traveling alone or with one other person (or pet)? Simply fold the rear seats down to maximize trunk space.
Additionally, and perhaps an obvious thing to keep in mind given the Wrangler’s reputation, the ride is reportedly a little harsher and noisier relative to its midsize SUV counterparts. This type of driving experience is more for those who don’t mind sacrificing a bit of comfort in order to enjoy a deeper connection with the trail they’re blazing. Comfortable premium cloth seats help cushion the ride, giving you a lofty view of the road that very few cars in its class can provide. But the Wrangler more than makes up for its shortcomings with its sleek, functionally designed dash and a wide assortment of modern features made to satisfy your every need while out on the road.
Hey Alexa, What Tech Features Does the 2021 Wrangler Offer?
All Wrangler models come equipped with Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment system, providing voice command and Bluetooth capabilities in the base model. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, on-screen navigation, and Alexa connectivity are available in the higher trims. Using Alexa, you can start your Wrangler remotely or set up directions while relaxing on the couch before a trip. Available screen sizes range from 5-in in the standard Sport model all the way to 8.4-in in the Sahara and Rubicon.
Plan on braving the cold? The available Cold Weather Package will keep you feeling all warm and fuzzy with its heated seats and steering wheel. Heated side mirrors also help keep your field of view clear from all angles, wherever your icy exploits may take you.
A 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot is undoubtedly one of the standout technology options that the Wrangler has to offer this model year. Coming with a crisp 8.4-in touchscreen, emergency call assistance, and an HD radio, this incredibly useful feature allows up to 8 connected devices within 50ft. If you like the soundtrack to your adventure to be a little louder, a premium 9-speaker Alpine audio system is optional as well.
Powertrain and Performance
A powerful and reliable 3.6L V6 engine comes standard on each model, dishing out 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This option comes equipped with Engine Start/Stop (ESS) technology, which turns the power off when the car is at rest to conserve fuel. The engine can be equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic.
If you like to take the road less traveled, the 3.0L Ecodiesel engine is your best bet, with the 3.6L V6 eTorque option coming in as a close second. With 442 lb-ft of torque and 260 hp, the low-end power the Ecodiesel engine provides is perfect for off-roading. The eTorque powertrain gets the job done with its mild-hybrid system adding extra engine power in the lower gears to make rock crawling a breeze. The 3.6L eTorque option clocks in at 285 hp with 260 lb-ft of torque.
In addition, you can outfit your Wrangler with a 270 hp turbocharged 2.0L engine with ESS that shells out 295 lb-ft of torque. For those who want to go a little more eco-friendly with their car buying, there is an option coming for you too. If you can wait until December, the all-new plug-in hybrid 4xe, which delivers a whopping 470 hp with the 2.0L turbo PHEV engine, will be available.
Towing capacity stays level at a maximum of 3,500 lbs across all available powertrains. As for fuel economy, there is a wide range of efficiency across the engine lineup. You can expect anywhere from 19 MPG combined to 25 MPG combined depending on engine and drivetrain choice. This estimate does not include the potential of the future hybrid option, though.
Trims and Pricing
The 2021 lineup of Wrangler trims includes the Sport and Sport S, Willys and Willys Sport, Freedom, Altitude and High Altitude, Sahara, Sahara Altitude, Islander, and of course, the trail-dominating Rubicon. If you’re not concerned with all the bells and whistles or being able to climb up the side of a mountain, then the Sport models are the sensible choice. They’re friendlier to your wallet, starting at $28,295 for the base 2-door model, and aren’t equipped with as many terrain-proofing features as the higher trims are.
It all depends on how much time you’re looking to spend off the beaten path (and your budget, of course). If your answer is most of the time, then the Rubicon is the way to go. Featuring a Rock-Trac 4×4 system that switches from 2WD to 4WD automatically, this edition is built with the trailblazer in mind and starts at $38,940 for the 2-door model.
If you’re looking for something more middle of the road, then the Sahara is perfect for you. Available only in the 4-door Unlimited edition, the Sahara starts at $38,890 and includes more creature comforts than the Sport models with plenty of terrain-friendly features in case you ever want to take a ride on the wild side. For a little bit more features and comforts, opt for the $42,185 Sahara Altitude.
A special 80th Anniversary edition joins the lineup this year as well, which sports 18-in granite crystal aluminum wheels and includes the advanced Uconnect Navigation system with an 8.4-in touchscreen display. This limited edition model starts at $36,235. The Islander edition also makes an appearance complete with a 7-in touchscreen with Apple Carplay/Android Auto capabilities and a beach-themed aesthetic package. Coming in at the lower end of the special editions, the Islander starts at $33,885 for the 2-door model.
The 2021 Wrangler’s list of safety features isn’t as lengthy as one might hope, but they’ve included some advanced options that will keep you and your loved ones adventuring with peace of mind. The standard Safety Group Package comes with blind-spot monitoring, rear park assist and LED tail lamps. If you opt for the Advanced Package, you’ll get advanced brake-assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and forward-collision warning.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe
Ushering in a new era for Jeep this December is the Wrangler 4xe, sporting a turbocharged plug-in hybrid engine. Boasting 375 hp, 470 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60 mph time as low as 6s, this beast packs quite a punch. Jeep estimates the MPGe projections at around 50 MPGe, with an estimated total driving range of 400 miles. Driver-selected modes will allow you to switch between running solely off battery power, conserving battery life by using just the engine, or taking full advantage of the hybrid system by using both.
The Legacy Continues
Very few cars can cruise down the street in style and comfort one second and be effortlessly crawling over rocky terrain the next. If you’re looking for a sturdy, versatile, and adventure-proof vehicle, then the Wrangler is undoubtedly a great choice. Wherever the road may take you, one thing’s for sure, Jeep’s legacy of uncompromising design and off-road superiority lives on this model year.