The SUV’s iconic seven-slot grille is now more visually modest and more textured. In addition to modernizing the presentation, this ensures better cooling of the mechanics and adds space for a powerful optional winch with a capacity of 3.6 tonnes. This Wrangler remains greatly attached to its utilitarian origins and its cubic body with wide wings which lets us play Playmobil with some of its parts. The strong and high bumpers are the only visible overhangs, to better negotiate obstacles. The possibilities for customization, both mechanical and aesthetic, are very vast, which further involves the buyer in their purchase, which is clearly more of a passion than a simple transaction. Note that the plug-in 4xe version, which stands out with its blue accents, is only available with the four-door Unlimited body.

You obviously don’t get into the Wrangler as easily as you do in a Honda CR-V. The adventurer has no use for conventions with its narrow doors and its high ground clearance. Once the exercise is done, a redesigned dashboard welcomes us at the front with a new selection of stitched materials which give an impression of better quality with a new horizontal screen. Ergonomics remains contentious due to the proximity of the dashboard which hides certain controls. However, we like their simplicity and their palpable aspect which contrasts with many new products which get lost in the digital world. Despite the narrowness of its interior inherent to its design, this Wrangler offers a warm and airy space thanks to good headroom.

Since 2021, the Wrangler is the only SUV in its segment to be offered with an optional plug-in hybrid system. It’s a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that’s the base material. A 44 hp starter-alternator and a 134 hp electric motor integrated into the transmission allow four-wheel drive to be preserved in electric mode. Add to that a 17.4 kWh battery and you get nearly 40 km of range in the best conditions and around 30 km when taking a motorway trip in good weather. Moreover, this 375 hp engine has very good flexibility, making overtaking easy. The noise level is however high, even in electric mode, while a blink – sometimes shrill – creeps into the cabin. The fault lies with the basic soundproofing of this Wrangler.

Driving a Wrangler is an experience that goes beyond the mundane. Perched on a high ladder chassis, the driver can easily position the vehicle in space thanks to the lower positioning of the hood and fenders. An advantage when driving off-road. As a daily-use SUV, it nevertheless imposes a number of compromises. Its steering is approximate, requiring constant corrections to keep the SUV in a straight line. The adjustment of the long travel shock absorbers and the use of rigid bridges at the front and rear also amplify the effect of bumps on the chassis, exposing an obvious lack of cohesion on the asphalt. There is also the undeniable problem of soundproofing, accentuated by the retractable fabric roof of the test model. But the sum of these faults makes the charm of this Wrangler and allows it to be a formidable mount for conquering steep trails.

A new 12.3-inch horizontal touchscreen makes its debut in the technology section, an element that makes this Wrangler younger, at least digitally. The latest vintage of the Uconnect system thus makes its appearance. It has better image definition as well as faster order processing. The positioning of the vertical tabs on the left, even when CarPlay is in operation, is a much appreciated feature to make navigation more fluid. The functionalities are also very complete and explain in an intelligible manner the operation of the hybrid group. The image quality of the reversing camera, which becomes excessively grainy in the dark, however, clashes with the modern appearance of the system. The calibration of the adaptive cruise control also proved problematic during the test by braking during overtaking maneuvers, for no apparent reason.

At more than $90,000 excluding taxes, the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe tested exposes the fact that this rather crude adventurer has become a luxury product over time. The low autonomy of its plug-in hybrid group and the not-so-low consumption of its thermal engine certainly do not justify such a price. We must rather stick here to the emotionality of such an acquisition to explain it and perhaps a quest for connection with an authentic and fiercely frank product. In this sense, Jeep remains a fascinating and captivating brand thanks to the undeniable effectiveness of its marketing focusing on the off-road assets of its products. The Wrangler is, in short, still perfect in its imperfections, which we fall in love with despite ourselves. You cannot stop a heart from loving.