Best Off-Road SUV: Jeep Wrangler

Off-roading was one of the reasons why SUVs took off in popularity. Starting with the Jeep Wrangler, servicemen during World War 2 fell in love with the vehicle’s off-roading prowess so much Jeep decided to make consumer models after the war. Fast forward to the present and many continue to demand SUVs that have off-roading capabilities.

Jeep continues to be one of the best manufacturers for producing off-road models. In fact, after examining all the offerings available on the market today, we chose the Jeep Wrangler to be the best off-road SUV available. Considering how the Wrangler was instrumental in starting the off-roading craze it’s pretty cool to be coming full circle. Here is a close look at how the Wrangler stands ahead of the rest.

Performance Capabilities

Of course, we must start with the performance capabilities–this is an area where the Jeep Wrangler excels. The Wrangler earned the Trailer Rated Badge–this indicates the Wrangler can handle many off-road conditions (snow, mud, rocks and sand) with ease thanks to its exceptional traction, maneuverability, water fording, articulation and ground clearance.

To help the Wrangle muscle over rocky terrains, Jeep installed its 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine. This engine provides an awesome power output of 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, giving it its masterful crawling prowess. Not only does the Wrangler deliver in spades on the power front, it isn’t too bad in efficiency either. It delivers 21 highway mpg and 17 city mpg. Though both are not the best in industry standards, considering all the power you receive with the Wrangler it’s a pretty good balance.

Now, let’s move on to the foundation that gives the Wrangler the ability to traverse over varied road surfaces: its four-wheel drive systems. With the Wrangler, you have your choice between the Command-Trac or Rock-Trac systems. The Command-Trac NV241 4×4 system gives stability to the Wrangler by supplying the same power to all four wheels. Meanwhile, the Rock-Trac 4×4 system uses more torque and traction control. The result is the Wrangler achieves a 4:1 low gear ratio, helping it deliver the best-in-class off-road performance of any SUV available.

Jeep added some unique components to aid the Wrangler’s impressive performance. The Dana 44 Heavy-Duty Axle comes standard on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. This front axle increases the Wrangler’s ground clearance as well as reduces the drive shaft angles to help the SUV achieve a quieter drive. An added component to the axles is the Tru-Lok Locking Differentials. These allow the Wrangle to achieve the traction necessary to smoothly move over rocky terrains.

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Handling

To help you maintain the superior handling representative of the Wrangler, Jeep added features like the Hill Descent Control. How this works is when the Wrangler moves down steep declines, the system can adjust braking, throttle, and speed to assist you in maintaining excellent control. In addition, with the Hill Start Assist, the system holds the Wrangler in place when stopped on an incline, so you have time to move your foot from the brake to gas pedal. These two features are indicative of the high level of control features Jeep installed in the Wrangler.

Performance Metrics

To really judge just how awesome the Jeep Wrangler’s performance capabilities, it’s important to look at what this SUV achieves. Below is a look at some of its performance metrics:

  • 3,500-pound towing capacity
  • 10 inches of ground clearance
  • Departure angle of 32.3 degrees
  • Break-over angle of 25.8 degrees
  • Approach angle of 42.2. Degrees

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

If you want the penultimate in performance capabilities, then you should opt for the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It is so capable, it earned the “Best 4×4 Vehicle of the Decade” honor by Four Wheeler Magazine. The Rubicon features the best equipment available including electronic sway bar disconnect, Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials, rock rails, Mud-Terrain T/A tires and the Rock-Trak transfer case featuring 4:1 low-range ratio. In addition, a stellar crawl ratio of 73:1:1 allows the Wrangler Rubicon to climb up rocks most SUVs would never be able to attempt.

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Competitors

The Toyota Land Cruiser lives up to its name with a bevy of tools that help the SUV navigate over varied terrains commandingly. Toyota equipped the Land Cruiser with an adjustable suspension, a locking center differential, a robust engine and reinforced skid plates. The result is a vehicle that can scale rocks or tackle snowy surfaces with grace.

Land Rover is another brand that’s become the gold standard for performance capability. Its Range Rover Sport model delights with its independent suspension, which helps the SUV deliver agile yet stable performance on tough areas. Unlike other models from some manufacturers, the Range Rover Sport comes standard with four-wheel drive to give you control while other features such as luxury styling, exhilarating power and a spacious interior, give the SUV a compliment of features that’s hard to match. The Land Rover Range Rover Sport will set you back–it starts from $64,950–but if you possess the financial means this vehicle delivers the performance you’ll want repeatedly.

The Lexus GX is also a more than capable vehicle to take on your off-road adventures. This SUV features the Advanced Off-Road Technology equipment such Crawl Control. With this, you press a button to activate the feature, and, from there, it manages braking and throttle to keep a consistent speed over bumpy terrain. Furthermore, the full-time four-wheel drive system sends power to all four wheels to help the GX achieve superior traction both for your road and off-roading adventures. Overall, the Lexus GX provides the innovative handling equipment needed to take on your adventures with confidence.

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Our Take

The Jeep Wrangler built an impressive reputation based on its performance capabilities, power, and handling features, all of which help the SUV tackle rocky terrains, zip up steep inclines and handle the slickest road surfaces with ease. Due to its amazing off-road performance versatility, the Jeep Wrangler is one of a kind, and that’s why if you are looking for the best, you need to look no further than the Wrangler.

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