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2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara Review By Larry Nutson

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2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

20 Years Ago: 1997 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4x4 Review and Specs

2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara Review

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Seven decades later and the iconic Jeep Wrangler just keeps on going on.

Each year Jeep makes a few tweaks and upgrades to the product program. For 2017, Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited models receive new LED headlights and fog lamps. They’re optional on Sport and Sport S and standard on Sahara and Rubicon models.

A Cold Weather Group is available on Sport S and Rubicon models and includes 17-inch BF Goodrich KO2 tires, engine block heater, all-weather slush mats, Power Convenience Group, heated seats, and remote start

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The Wrangler is the 2-door and the Wrangler Unlimited the 4-door model. All Wranglers have a body-on-frame design, front and rear five-link suspension system, live axles and electronic lockers. It’s one of the few mid-size SUVs that offer a six-speed manual transmission, in addition to its five-speed automatic.

Courtesy of Jeep, I drove a media-loan 2017 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara model around the streets of Chicago. Admittedly, there was no off-road opportunity and, with the mild winter, not even a big snow bank to climb over.

Calling it like it is, I don’t love the Jeep for around town or even highway driving. Now if I lived in the mountains or the desert it would be different story.

The Wrangler is bouncy, noisy, not the easiest to get in and out of and doesn’t have very good fuel consumption. But, take off the doors, which are removable, open up the top, buckle up and go climb some sand dunes or mountain rock trails and you will have a blast. This is where the Jeep Wrangler excels.

I’ve driven the Wrangler on off-road trails, over obstacles and across streams at two events hosted by the by the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) of which I am a member. The Wrangler can do it all.

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PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

I also drove the Wrangler at the Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) Chelsea, Michigan proving ground. FCA has a diverse off-road trail that includes a stream to drive through, a stair-step incline to climb up and back down, various undulating hills that causes one wheel to ride high off the ground, as well as a log-road and more.

The Wrangler easily handles all of these and is ready for more. Its best-in-class approach angle of 42.2 degrees, breakover angle of 25.8 degrees and departure angle of 32.3 degrees all help to make it happen.

It’s fair to say that if this is your “cup-of-tea” than go for it. Certainly the challenge of these trails makes for a good days adventure. And by the way, in a big Midwestern blizzard or in case you need to climb over a curb to get around an obstacle, the Jeeps creds will help here.

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The 2017 Jeep Wrangler is powered by a 3.6-L V6 rated at 285 HP. A six-speed manual transmission with hill start assist is standard. A five-speed automatic with hill start assist and also hill descent control is optional. Four-wheel drive is standard and includes high-range and low-range gears.

Wrangler is available with 3.21, 3.73 or 4.10 axle ratios depending on model. Also, Wrangler offers towing capability up to 3,500 pounds. The Sport and Sahara models include a Dana 30 front axle and Dana 44 rear axle.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 18 mpg combined, with 16 city mpg and 20 highway mpg for the automatic. The manual transmission model is rated one mpg better on the highway.

There’s not a lot of new-tech on the Wrangler. Yes it has ABS and Stability Control and can connect your iPhone via Bluetooth or tune you into satellite radio. However, there are no driver-assistance safety features such as forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control offered.

2017 2-door Wrangler prices start at $23,995 and go up to $39,145. The 4-door Wrangler Unlimited is priced ranging form $27,895 to $42,945.

If you are into old-school retro, well, the 2017 Wrangler looks quite a bit like the original 1941 version with its classic round headlights and seven-slot grille. Happy trails!

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On a final note, FCA has plans to grow the models range within Jeep. There’s new Jeep Pickup that will be coming along in the not too distant future which will certainly increase the brands popularity.

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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