Trucks & SUVs

Are Jeep Wranglers Practical If You’re Not Just Looking to Have Fun?

Jeep Wranglers are increasingly popular among consumers, and rightly so. They’re fun, capable, and trendy. Buying a Jeep means joining a family of fiercely enthusiastic owners with unwritten rules of ownership, like waving at fellow Jeep owners. It can sometimes feel like Jeep Wrangler owners are just as fun, capable, and trendy as their 4x4s.

Many consumers find themselves easily swayed into joining this club with all of its adventurous appeal. But are Jeep Wranglers all that practical for everyday lifestyles? If you’re not really into soaring over sand dunes or tackling trails, the Wrangler may not be as fun as you’d think.

Consider your driving habits

Buying a Jeep Wrangler may make perfect sense for you, but to know for sure, it’s best to consider what the majority of your driving habits and needs are. If the idea of having an occasional excursion for fun is appealing but 90 percent of your time is spent on the highway or in the city, you might want to rethink your position.

Driving a Wrangler on the highway can be problematic with its slow acceleration and noisy cabin. Steering can be slow too, and the ride is bumpy. If fuel efficiency is a priority, it’s important to also know that the Wrangler isn’t impressive on gas. Most Wrangler models average about 17 mpg in the city and only 23 mpg on the highway. More trips to the gas station can have a significant impact on the overall cost of ownership.

The Jeep Wrangler’s cargo space and seating capacity limitations

A Jeep Wrangler is displayed during the Vienna Autoshow, as part of Vienna Holiday Fair
A Jeep Wrangler | Manfred Schmid/Getty Images

If you need to seat people or haul cargo comfortably, the Jeep Wrangler may be one of the worst options for either. Sure, you might have seatbelt capacity for five passengers and four doors, but it won’t be the most comfortable ride.

As for trunk space, you’ll be limited as well. In fact, many Jeep Wrangler owners invest in racks and trailers for transporting anything substantial in size. If you routinely need to load up friends and family or pack up coolers, bags, and purchases, the Jeep Wrangler may not be very practical for you.

The Jeep Wrangler is designed for crawling and hauling, not safety

Despite the increased numbers of consumers buying Jeep Wranglers, it’s important to note the safety pitfalls they’re overlooking. Of course, there are safety hiccups with almost every vehicle on the market, and cases are sometimes isolated. However, the boxy design with the Wrangler doesn’t offer the safest conditions during crashes, including rollover situations.

The 2018 Wrangler earned a horrific one-star rating with the European NCAP system. The NHTSA also has warned Jeep Wrangler owners about the risk of the soft top cover detaching while driving. Imagine driving your Jeep down the highway and having the rag top pop off one corner, fly off entirely, or worse yet, cause an accident.

Dealing with questionable build quality isn’t so much fun

Jeep promotes the Wrangler as the can-do, capable choice for consumers who need a rugged and reliable ride, but the Wrangler hasn’t always had a good run in the reliability department. Some cite questionable build quality. Fiat-Chrysler issued a recall for the 2018-2019 models due to a faulty weld on the front bar bracket. Others complain of cracking interior components due to sun exposure. Some report premature rust and leaks, and for many of the older model Wranglers, there’s the notorious “death wobble” with the degradation of the suspension.

Sure, cruising the beachfront with the top down on your Jeep Wrangler may sound inviting. And for consumers who genuinely need an off-road, 4×4 for their daily lifestyles, the Wrangler may be the best fit. But for many, especially those who spend much of their drives on the highway or around town, the Jeep Wrangler just isn’t so practical. If you’re in the latter of these two camps, don’t be sold on the fun and adventure.