What price should you put on the most iconic 4x4 of all-time?
What’s the price of admission to the world of iconic 4x4s? If it’s the Suzuki Jimny, it’s surprisingly affordable for what is arguably the cutest new car on the planet right now.
Should you want something with more space and even more off-road ability as standard, the Jeep Wrangler is hard to argue with.
Parking the Wrangler on your drive, or just about anywhere you fancy given its terrain-busting nature, won’t be the cheapest move you’ll ever make. After all, the list price starts at £44,865 and the range-topping Rubicon model adds a further £3,500 to that. Leasing takes the sting out of those figures, but it’s still going to be a sizeable monthly payment should you want to go down the Jeep track.
Yet, this is still good value in so many ways. How so? Well, take a look at the Mercedes G-Class, often referred to as the G-Wagen that its ancestors were known as. The least expensive model in its line-up comes in at a shade over £92,000, so more than twice the cost of jumping up into a Wrangler.
Perhaps more tellingly, the Mercedes is priced in a very similar fashion to the Range Rover. Against this British bastion of off-roading in the finest style imaginable, again the US contender looks keen on value. This is all the more true when you take into account the Jeep is one of the very few that has the ability today and reputation built up over many years to cut it out in the woods.
Of course, there are plenty of others that would like to think they have the prestige, ability and brand identity of this tiny handful of truly great 4x4s. However, the truth is only Toyota’s Landcruiser creates a big enough bow wave to mix in this company. The Japanese car is a cheaper alternative to the Jeep and has the substance to operate in equally extreme conditions. Yet, the Toyota has never quite captured the imaginations of British 4x4 fans in the way the others have.
And then there’s the big elephant in the room. Or, the big missing elephant in the room in the shape of the Land Rover Defender. Alongside the Jeep, the Defender is the most recognisable 4x4 in the world and also the only one other than the Wrangler that you would feel completely confident tackling any obstacle in.
A new Defender is due in 2020, but therein lies the problem for the British company. It’s been three years since the last old-school Defender rolled off the line and that sort of gap in production means many of the business customers who propped up the Land Rover’s sales will have found an alternative vehicle by the time the new one arrives.
Yes, there’s a residual love for the Defender among its many fans, just as there is for the Wrangler, but there’s also a concern the new model may be a bit too prissy. After all, a Defender is a 4x4 you fix with a hammer and a few choice words, not a lap-top and latte.
This isn’t to say the latest Wrangler is made from wrought iron and powered by steam. Far from it. Inside, you’ll find an 8.4-inch colour touchscreen with all of the infotainment you’d hope for in a luxury car. Yet what will matter just as much to Wrangler customers is it also has selectable four-wheel drive, Command-Trac, Rock-Trac and Tru-Lock electric front and rear axle lockers. Add in Trac-Lok limited slip differential and electronic front anti-roll bar disconnect and the Jeep is packed with the kit you need to tackle the worst of roads, lanes, tracks and, well, anything.
With that lot fitted, as well as all of the comfort-oriented equipment and the option of hard or soft-tops so you can configure the car however you like, the Wrangler is just the ticket for these apocalyptic times we live in. In fact, the Wrangler might just be all the car you ever need.
That might sound contrary to what many will say, but the Jeep now comes with a 2.2-litre turbodiesel rather than the hulking V6 or V8 engines most would expect. This motor delivers 200hp and 450Nm of torque, so it’s more than up to hauling the Wrangler into, around and out of the muck. There’s also a 2.0-litre turbo petrol, but most are going to head for the diesel option for its economy and low-down shove.
It all goes toward putting the Jeep Wrangler in pole position in the modern world of legendary off-road machines. Yes, Mercedes has bags of credibility with the G-Class, but that price is always going to make it a rare sight, while the Jimny has the opposite dilemma: it’s proved such a big hit that Suzuki can’t build them quickly enough and there’s already a considerable waiting list.
Land Rover, well, they don’t even have a contender down in the affordable world of 4x4s and the Range Rover is a magnificent machine, but that comes at a high price.
So, that leaves the Jeep Wrangler and, for our money, it’s the sweet spot right now in the full-size off-road market. Note we say off-road rather than SUV. If you want a four-wheel drive car with a bit of added ground clearance and plenty of cabin space and comfort, there’s no end of choice. If you want to head right into the wilds, though, your choices narrow about as swiftly as the road ahead and that leaves only a minority of genuine all-wheel drive machines that will get the job down.
The Jeep Wrangler is one of that exclusive group and comes with a heritage, style and character that means you’ll appreciate it all the more than just another SUV. We hope Land Rover comes up with something that tackles its US rival head-on, but for now the Wrangler is the real deal among iconic 4x4s.