In the last year of the current generation of the Wrangler, Jeep has made this special edition called the Smokey Mountain. Although the heavily anticipated 2018 model isn’t here yet let’s see what they did for the last hurrah.
Overall it looks similar to the original since it was first introduced back in 2007, known as the “JK” the Smoky Mountain edition adds some nice new addition. Starting with the most noticeable, a set of 18″ high gloss black wheels, Jeep’s freedom top and some stickers makes it easily distinguishable comparing to the rest of lineup. However, there are little details as well like LED headlights, foglights, taillight surrounds that completes the entire package.
The Freedom top is a nice option to have, allowing plenty of natural light and air into the cabin. However, unlike the hardtops found on some other vehicles, it’s not the easiest to take off. The front panels above the front row are relativity easy, two clips under the visor, 5 swivel latches and 2 bolts above the driver and passenger’s head will remove the panels. This should take no more than 5 minutes and they stow nicely in a pouch behind the 2nd row. The rest of the top, however, requires removal of 8 Torx screws (Torx bits and rachet included) and a buddy to remove. This will take about 20-30 mins. And after you have it all removed you will realize the soft top that comes with the vehicle is wrapped up and takes just as long to put back on. To add fuel to the fire, the soft top that’s rolled up in the trunk does not include the side windows that are needed to completely seal the vehicle. Luckily, the Jeep has tons of aftermarket support and there are easier soft tops that can be purchased to make life just a little simplier.
Inside, we have a mixture of sturdy and robust materials all around. Designed to be more functional than comfortable, the interior cabin is dated but it all works. Controls are easily accessible and seating surfaces are covered in leather and are heated. While being very comfortable, they don’t hold the occupants tightly in turns or on the trails.
As for the 2nd row, the seat bottoms are shallow and the backrest is upright, with no adjustments available back seat passengers might not be the most comfortable people in the vehicle.
Infotainment is even less to be desired, while it works it has definitely aged over time. Graphics and the user interface are atrocious, it looks to be lifted from a 1st generation handheld navigation unit. However, the Alpine Audio system more than makes up the looks with major thump thanks to the subwoofer below the trunk floor.
The trunk is capable however hindered by the presence of the soft top, it divides the rear cargo hold in half making luggage harder to carry. But the rear seats do fold flat to add a bit more flexibility to the cargo area.
Driving the wrangler on the road does not provide the best Wrangler experience. With its body on frame construction the body rolls and dives. However, it has improved throughout the years. Fuel consumption by the Pentastar v6 is a bit thirsty. Rated at 15 in the city and 11.4 on the highway, it’s not the most efficient vehicle in its class. With 285hp and 260lb-ft the engine has more than enough power for passing everday drives.
Paired with a 6-speed manual, it’s easy to feel sporty when it really isn’t especially when moving 4400lbs. The shifter’s throws are long and it’ll vibrate and shake over bumps and dips making it feel very truck-like.
Off-road is where the wrangler feels right at home. With Dana 30 front and 44 rear solid axles, it’s one of the few SUVs around that’s capable of actually having an adventure in. With the optional 3.73 gears, low range and big knobby tires, it allows the wrangler to climb obstacles some only dream about. This is truly where the Wrangler shines, it’s one of the last true off-roaders to be sold and it shows it. This vehicle is not designed to go to malls or pick up groceries, although it can it’s more at home climbing rocks and exploring the great outdoors with.
The Wrangler is very lovable, with a great following there’s always people out there that are willing to give a lending hand. The Jeep community is very tight knit and during the review process there were moments where Jeep owners would come by to simply introduce themselves and start talking about their vehicles and experiences. And this is something you just don’t get when dealing with run of the mill trucks.
Other than that, the Wrangler Unlimited is great fun for you and your friends to go out and explore. Wheather it’s to go camping or simply just day trek the Wrangler is very capable right out of the box.
Big thanks to Jeep Canada for lending me this Wrangler Unlimited for the past week, I’ve had a blast and it was awesome being a part of the trail rated exprience.
These LED headlights are better than the halogen units however they have a bring hot spot dead in front and does not provide the best width.