2005 Wrangler New Car Test Drive
The 2005 Jeep Wrangler lineup includes a new Unlimited model. This stretch version not only increases the amount of room for people and cargo, but also improves handling and ride quality on the pavement where most of us spend most of our time. Yet it still offers no-nonsense, world-class off-road capability at affordable prices. Introduced late in the 2004 model year in Sport trim, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is also available in Rubicon trim for 2005, bringing added creature comfort to serious off-roaders.
Jeep Wrangler remains an icon, a symbol of go-anywhere adventure. Although it's been re-engineered at least a half-dozen times over the past 60 years, the Wrangler is still as close as you can get to a direct descendent of the World War II-era Jeep.
Today's Wrangler is far more civilized than those early models, though it still resembles them. A four-speed automatic is available on all models. Four-wheel disc brakes are available for much better stopping ability. The side mirrors have been massaged for less wind noise and a better view over your shoulder, and many convenience features are available.
This still isn't the most practical everyday vehicle, however, and may not be the best choice for someone drawn to it simply because it's cute. (And it is cute.) Getting in and out is awkward. The interior is Spartan. The ride quality is rough by today's standards, though many young people won't mind that. And it doesn't handle very well, so care should be exercised, particularly in the rain. The reason for all this discomfort is that the Wrangler is designed primarily for performance off the road.
For the ultimate in off-the-shelf off-road capability, Jeep offers the Wrangler Rubicon. Jeep looked at the aftermarket modifications off-road enthusiasts were making to their Jeeps, and engineered many of those features into a turn-key vehicle you can buy (and finance) right off the showroom floor. Built along Jeep's 'Go anywhere, do anything' design philosophy, the Rubicon is a 4x4 gem. We found it performed admirably on Hell's Revenge, Cliff Hanger, and other challenging trails around Moab, Utah. Front and rear Dana Model 44 axles with locking differentials and a transfer case with a stump-pulling 4:1 low-range give the Ruby trail capabilities far beyond those of the average SUV.
2005 Jeep Wrangler models come standard with a new six-speed manual gearbox that replaces last year's five-speed manual.
The 2005 Jeep Wrangler is available in six models: SE ($17,970); X ($20,280); Sport ($23,140); Rubicon ($27,365); Unlimited ($23,895); and Unlimited Rubicon ($28,365). The Sahara is no longer available.
The Wrangler SE comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The 2005 Wrangler SE features a new six-speed manual gearbox; a four-speed automatic ($825) is optional. Also new for 2005 is the availability of the 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine ($1,280) as an option. The SE is a basic machine. It comes with a padded roll bar, steel half-doors with side curtains, tilt steering column, a mini-console with cupholders, skid plates for the fuel tank and transfer case, gas-charged shock absorbers and P215/75R15 Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires. Rear seating (a fold-and-tumble bench) and carpeting are now standard, as is a four-speaker, AM/FM/CD stereo. Air conditioning ($895), cloth upholstery ($130), and full-metal doors with wind-up windows ($125) are extra-cost options.
The 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine comes standard on all the other Wrangler models. The six-speed manual transmission is standard; the four-speed automatic is optional.
Wrangler X upgrades to cloth upholstery. More options are available. Among them: cruise control ($300) including leather-wrapped steering wheel); upgraded stereo ($295); hard top ($1,160).
Sport upgrades to air conditioning, full metal doors with wind-up windows, a full-length floor console, courtesy and underhood lights, fog lamps, a seven-speaker stereo, and other features. Options expand to include anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes ($600), side steps ($150), and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror ($295). Nostalgia buffs can order a Willys edition, with green body paint, camouflage upholstery, unique badging, green sill guards and front and rear tow hooks ($1,490).
Rubicon comes with diamond-plate sill guards, beefier front and rear axles (two Dana 44s, rather than the Dana 30 and 35 used in the front and rear, respectively, of other Wranglers), a heavy-duty transfer case with an ultra-low 4:1 ratio, driver-actuated locking differentials, a special off-road suspension and four-wheel-disc brakes. Also standard are 31-inch tall LT245/75R16 tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels. Otherwise, Rubicon is generally comparable to the Sport for comfort and convenience equipment.
The two Unlimited models mirror the features on the Sport and Rubicon models, as appropriate, primarily adding the extra interior room allowed by the lengthened wheelbase.
All models in the lineup include a fold-down windshield, removable doors and top, and a weatherproof interior. Drivers may choose the standard soft top or the extra-cost steel hard top or a package that includes both ($1,435) in matching colors. The hard top comes with roll-up windows, a rear wiper-washer and rear defroster.