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Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4-Door 3.6L: A more up-market off-road icon

By Ghaith Madadha - Jan 17,2022 - Last updated at Jan 17,2022

Photo courtesy of Jeep

Launched in 2018, the current “JL” generation of Jeep’s defining Wrangler model remains one of the most capable off-road vehicles to be found, but is the most sophisticated and comfortable incarnation yet.

A rugged off-road oriented SUV oozing authenticity and built using body-on-frame construction and running on live axles, the latest Wrangler, however, benefits from modern technologies, engineering and equipment levels. The most refined and convenient Wrangler yet, the “JL” is the most luxurious and family-friendly in 4-door Sahara guise.

 

Convenience and capability

The most recent successor to the legendary 1941 Willys Jeep of WW2, the “JL” Wrangler hits all the visual cues on the mark, with its tapered-in bonnet, protruding and low front wheel-arches, 7-slot grille, boxy rearwards cabin, exposed hinges and short front and rear overhangs for excellent off-road approach and departure angles. Using increased aluminium content and with a slightly more swept back design as concessions to improved efficiency, the “JL” Wrangler’s headlights hint at the 1944-86 “CJ” generation Jeep. 

Available in 2- or 4-door body styles and three core trim levels, the 2-door with off-road Rubicon specification may be the most capable enthusiast’s choice Wrangler. However, it is the 4-door body combined with Sahara spec that is instead the most convenient daily drive family vehicle option, with higher equipment and comfort levels. If not as well proportioned in its road stance, and somewhat long in the wheelbase from profile view, the 4-door Wrangler offers significantly improved cabin access and seating and luggage space than the 2-door.

Smooth and seamless

Offered with power-train options that include turbocharged 4-cylinder, hybrid and high performance V8 engines, the Wrangler’s staple mid-range naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre V6 ‘Pentastar’ is probably the best all-round choice, as a sensible engine with decent efficiency and power. Consistent and progressive in delivery and smooth and refined in operation, the Wrangler’s Pentastar is mated to a slick, smooth and quick shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox, notable for its near infallible knack to intuitively select the right gear for a given situation.

Producing 281BHP at 6400rpm and 256lb/ft torque at 4100rpm, the Pentastar is a comparatively high revving engine in character, but is one that is responsive from standstill, versatile in mid-range and that makes much of its torque output available across a broad rev range. Eager revving to redline and seamlessly linear, the Wrangler’s 3.6-litre V6 also allows for precise throttle control to dial in exact power increments, and carries its 2-tonne mass through 0-100km/h at a reasonably brisk rate and onto 177km/h.

Authentic off-roader

Fitted with Jeep’s Selec-Trac system, the Wrangler Sahara can shift between rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive at up to 72km/h, and features a 4WD ‘auto’ mode, where power is automatically re-apportioned from rear to front as necessary for efficiency and traction. Lacking the Rubicon’s three locking differentials and de-coupling anti-roll bars for extreme off-roading, the Sahara has low ratio four-wheel-drive for more demanding off-road conditions, and can be optioned with a limited-slip rear differential to prevent wheel-spin and maintain traction off-road, and for enhanced on-road cornering agility.

If not quite a Rubicon, the Sahara does receive Rubicon’s bigger, more capable brakes, and is nevertheless excellent off-road, with its ladder frame, coil sprung front and rear solid axles and low gear ratios. With terrific axle articulation and full power crawling ability over rough terrain, the Sahara delivers generous 254mm ground clearance, and 35.4° approach and 30.7° departure angles. Slightly less manoeuvrable through narrow trails than its shorter 2-door sibling, the 4-door Sahara’s longer wheelbase translates into a lower break-over angle, but at 20°, is still quite capable.

Coil sprung comfort

Marginally lower profile at 255/70R18, the Sahara’s tyres are slightly more road-oriented for improved dynamics, but are still plenty capable off-road. Seemingly more biased for slight at the limit under-steer than the nimbler 2-door, the 4-door Wrangler is nevertheless tidy into corners and delivers better body control and manoeuvrability than expected. Similarly, the 4-door Wrangler’s coil sprung suspension provides a surprisingly good level of ride refinement and comfort, handling fluency and ability, and buttoned down stability, considering its rugged live axle design.

Providing good visibility with its upright body and big glasshouse, the Wrangler is meanwhile offered with a choice of three detachable soft and hard tops, including removable doors and fold-down windscreen, for a full open air driving experience. The most luxurious Sahara specification receives body coloured wheel-arches externally, and a more up-market cabin with higher quality trim, upholstery and materials. Additionally, the Sahara is well equipped with convenience, safety and driver assistance features, including Uconnect infotainment and blind spot and rear cross-path detection systems.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 3.6-litre, in-line, V6-cylinders

Bore x Stroke: 96 x 83mm

Compression ratio: 11.3:1

Valve-train: DOHC, 24-valve, variable timing

Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive, low ratio transfer

Gear ratios: 1st 4.71:1; 2nd 3.13:1; 3rd 2.1:1; 4th 1.67:1; 5th 1.28:1; 6th 1.0:1; 7th 0.84:1; 8th 0.67:1

Reverse/final drive: 3.29:1 /3.45:1

Low ratio transfer: 2.72:1

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 281 (285) [209] @6,400rpm

Specific power: 77.9BHP/litre

Power-to-weight: 138.7/tonne

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 256 (347) @4,100rpm

Specific torque: 96.2Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight: 171.3Nm/tonne

Top speed: 177km/h

Fuel consumption, urban/extra-urban/combined; 13-/7.8-/

9.7-litres/100km

CO2 emissions, combined: 225g/km

Fuel capacity: 81-liters

Length: 4,882mm

Width: 1,894mm

Height: 1,891mm

Wheelbase: 3,008mm

Track: 1598mm 

Overhang, F/R: 741/1,036

Ground clearance: 254mm

Approach/break-over/departure angles: 35.4°/20°/30.7°

Water fording: 760mm

Headroom, F/R: 1,036-1,083/1,023-1,059mm

Legroom, F/R: 1,038/974mm

Shoulder room, F/R: 1,417/1,417mm

Hip room, F/R: 1,370/1,140mm

Loading height: 756mm

Cargo volume min/max: 548-/1,059-litres

Kerb weight: 2,026kg

Weight distribution, F/R; 53 per cent/47 per cent

Payload: 537kg

Steering: Power-assisted rack & pinion

Steering ratio: 15.6:1

Lock-to-lock: 3.24-turns

Turning circle: 12.28-metres

Suspension: Solid axles, coil springs, anti-roll bars

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated disc, 330 x 28mm/disc, 342 x 14mm

Brake callipers, F/R: twin-/single-piston

Tyres: 255/70R18

Tyres: 255/65R17

 

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