2007 Jeep Wrangler: First Impressions

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Let me start by saying that I’m not your typical “car guy.” I didn’t grow up with my hood under an engine, and I’m not an expert in all things automotive. I did spend a couple of years working in automobile advertising, and I’ve owned twelve vehicles over my adult life, three of which have been Jeep products. I drive – a lot – and I know what I like. Those are my qualifications. Don’t look to me to talk about gear ratios, drag coefficients, and other arcane topics. I just wanna know if the vehicle drives well, handles well, is well-made, and will suit my purpose. That having been said…

I am eagerly awaiting the release of the 2007 Jeep Wranglers. This is somewhat unusual for me, because I’m a big believer in buying used. Buying a car that’s a year or two old makes great economic sense. Too, I’ve been burned by buying cars in their first model year (or the first year after they’ve been completely redesigned.) Yes, auto fans, I was one of the victims of GM’s first “X” cars – the 1980 Chevy Citation. It was my first new car, and I ordered special from the factory. It’s one of the reasons I find GM’s current plight so richly-deserved. [Editor’s note: for an entertaining insight into GM’s troubles, check out www.thetruthaboutcars.com, and be sure and read their series on “GM Death Watch.”]

Anyway, I’m a sucker for Jeeps. Love ’em. I’ve always found Chrysler Corp. (Now DCX) products to be reliable and well-made. With my wife, I’ve owned three Jeeps – one (used) Wrangler (mine), and two Libertys (hers). I’ve got 116,000 miles on my Wrangler, and have had VERY little trouble with it, over the 3 years I’ve owned it. It’s built like a tank, and gets me where I wanna go. That notwithstanding, there are some things about the Wranglers that I would improve, if given the chance. Well, I don’t get to do the redesign, but the fine folks at Jeep have done it for me. The 2007 Wrangler includes (maybe) all the features I’ve wanted in a Wrangler but couldn’t get before now.

According to the press releases, the 07’s will be all-new, ading things I’ve been missing, like:

  • rear seat headrests
  • under-seat, lockable storage
  • side-curtain airbags
  • reinforced steel doors
  • improved tops
  • better engine (more HP & torque)
  • bigger stock wheels/tires
  • Sirius satelite radio

In fact, before I actually get to drive one, I’ve only got a couple of questions for Jeep:

  1. they plan to release it – in Europe – with more than just the 3.8 litre V6 engine, and allow buyers to choose the 4-cylinder CRD (common-rail diesel) also found in the Liberty. Why not allow Americans to drive the diesel Wrangler? Given it’s fuel economy, it would be a “green” choice, regardless of what the regulatory idiots in California think. Why penalize the rest of the country for California’s ignorance?
  2. Are you guys gonna fix the seatbelts? I’ve had two sets of seatbelts on my 97 Wrangler. Neither work worth a damn. They don’t retract properly, and they are CONSTANTLY getting caught in the doors. The Liberty seatbelts work just fine. Why can’t Jeep come up with a seatbelt for the Wranglers that work as well as those in the Liberty? Here’s hoping the ’07s fix the problem.

So…that’s it for now. Here are some links to the other pictures DCX has released. If you want to learn more, goto www.jeep.com and look up the pre-release info on the Jeep. I will be reviewing the new Wrangler – in depth – just as soon as they hit the dealer’s lots.

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