2006 Wrangler New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Wrangler carries over for 2006 and dealers will likely be selling them down as they prepare for an all-new 2007 model.
For 2006, Jeep has added more heavy-duty equipment to the base Unlimited model. An extended-wheelbase version introduced mid-2004, the Wrangler Unlimited models are designed to offer more room for people and cargo and improved handling and ride quality on the pavement while maintaining most of the shorter Wrangler's legendary off-road capability.
For 2006, Jeep has brought back the Golden Eagle package from the 1970s. Golden Eagle Wranglers feature two-tone premium seats with Golden Eagle logos; a painted center stack bezel; a Dana 44 heavy-duty rear axle; 15-inch gold-finished aluminum wheels; and 30-inch tires; plus Golden Eagle hood, fender and spare tire decals.
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 with Jeep's 'Go anywhere, do anything' design philosophy, the Rubicon is a 4x4 gem.
In any form, 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.
Because the Wrangler is designed for off-road capability first with on-road behavior a secondary consideration, it is not the most practical everyday vehicle. And it is 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 don't mind it. And it doesn't handle very well, so it should be driven with care, particularly in the rain.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is available on most models. Four-wheel disc brakes are available for better stopping ability, and many convenience features are available.
The 2006 Jeep Wrangler is available in six models: SE, X, Sport, Rubicon, Unlimited, and Unlimited Rubicon. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. A 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine is available, which comes with a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
The Wrangler SE ($18,140) comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox. The SE is a basic machine, with a padded roll bar, steel half-doors with side curtains, soft folding top, tilt steering column, a mini-console with two cupholders, skid plates for the fuel tank and transfer case, gas-charged shock absorbers, and P215/75R15 Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires on 15 x 7-inch steel wheels. Rear seating (a fold-and-tumble bench) and carpeting are also 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. A 4.0-liter inline-6 is optional ($1,280). The six-cylinder is available with an optional four-speed automatic transmission ($825).
Wrangler X ($20,450) upgrades to cloth upholstery, a full-length console with four cupholders and lockable storage, courtesy lights, and other small comforts. More options are available: cruise control and leather-wrapped steering wheel ($300); upgraded stereo ($295); Sirius Satellite Radio ($195); and a hard top with full steel doors and roll-up windows ($1,160).
Wrangler Sport ($23,310) comes standard with air conditioning and full metal doors with wind-up windows, plus fog lamps, a seven-speaker stereo, wider 225/75R15 tires, and other features. Options include anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes ($600), side steps ($150), and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror ($295). Since the metal doors are already standard, adding a hard top costs less ($795). The Golden Eagle package ($1,150) includes two-tone premium seats with Golden Eagle logos; a painted center stack bezel; a Dana 44 heavy-duty rear axle; 15-inch gold aluminum wheels; 30-inch tires; plus Golden Eagle hood, fender and spare tire decals.
Wrangler Rubicon ($27,535) 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 Wrangler Unlimited ($24,065) and Unlimited Rubicon ($28,535) are essentially long versions of the Sport and Rubicon models. For 2006, the Unlimited adds four-wheel disc brakes, a 3.73:1 Dana 44 rear axle with limited-slip differential, and 15-inch aluminum wheels with 30-inch tires. That's in addition to full-steel doors, fog lamps, Sunrider soft top with sunroof feature, tow hooks, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD player, high-back bucket seats, full-length console and courtesy lights. The 2006 Unlimited Rubicon remains essentially a stretch-wheelbase version of the standard Rubicon.
All Wranglers come with a fold-down windshield, removable doors and top, and a weatherproof interior. Sport and Rubicon and buyers may choose a package that includes both tops ($1,435) in matching colors. The hard top comes with roll-up windows, a rear wiper-washer and rear defroster. A wide variety of appearance items and accessories are also available, particularly at the upper trim levels.