- Authentic and rugged image
- Incredibly capable off-road
- Smooth drivetrain
- Handles poorly on-road
- No auto wipers
- Odd driving position
Think Jeep and we guarantee you’ll be thinking of the iconic Wrangler. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Overland is rugged, designed to go anywhere and capable of demolishing pretty much any off-road track. The Wrangler has always been known to be a brilliant vehicle off the beaten track, but this Wrangler JL, on sale since 2018, promises to be much more well rounded. Jeep says its now more comfortable and better in town too.
There’s no arguing with the fact that so many out there think the Wrangler might just be the ultimate car. It looks so cool and helps owners bring out their adventurous spirit unlike in any other SUV.
We think the Wrangler is purely for enthusiasts who do a lot of off-roading. If you spend most of your time in the city, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Overland will be rather pointless, as you’ll see shortly. The list of cheaper, more comfortable SUVs which are still capable of a decent level of off-road action is long.
But it you’re set on finding at the ultimate, most focussed off-road vehicle, and the tiny Suzuki Jimny is too small for your likes, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler, here in 5-door Unlimited form might be just for you.
Price & Equipment: 7/10
The 3-door 2021 Jeep Wrangler Overland costs $62,250 before on-road costs, while opting for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited body style tested here costs $66,750 before on-road costs.
Our Wrangler come with a few optional extras including an electrically operated roof called the Power Top ($4950), the Trail Management System ($450) which adds adjustable tie-down points in the boot and Granite Crystal paint ($745).
For a rugged off-roader, the Wrangler Overland feels positively luxurious. There’s creature comforts like standard leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, automatic all-LED lighting with front and rear fog lights, keyless entry with push button start, leather upholstery with a leather shift knob and steering wheel, a removable hard top, a nine-speaker Alpine sound system, an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 255/70 road-going tyres and remote start.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Overland comes with a decent amount of active safety features designed to stop you from getting into an accident such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors, roll over stability control, a hill holder, hill descent control and trailer sway detection.
Let’s also talk about the elephant in the room: the Wrangler’s ANCAP safety rating, which is now at three-stars. This is up from the abysmal one-star result it received back in 2019. Sadly the Wrangler’s body isn’t too safe in a crash as it doesn’t protect well against whiplash or in a side impact. The rear passengers have no curtain airbags at all.
There are a few additional items we would like to see in the Wrangler. The addition of auto wipers would be handy and for the price should be included – though hard to fit with a car with a removable windscreen. More safety tech would be great as well.
Performance & Economy: 7.5/10
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Overland uses Stellantis’ Pentastar naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre V6 engine, producing 209kW of power and 347Nm of torque. The engine is mated solely to the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission.
This old-school engine is the same as the one Jeep has featured in Wranglers of old and actually feels perfectly suited to the Wrangler. It sounds brilliant and works beautifully with the superb eight-speed automatic. The transmission always knows what gear to be in and hides the engine’s lack of low down torque very well. This is one happy marriage, even if the Wrangler isn’t the fast SUV out there. We managed a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.8 seconds.
The claimed average fuel consumption figure for the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Overland is 9.7L/100km but we found this hard to achieve. With a mixture of highway and city driving, we saw 12L/100km – expect it to climb much further in solely urban driving. Blame the off-road focussed gear and the aerodynamics of a brick. The former diesel option has been canned locally, while the V6 diesel in US-spec cars is unavailable, as is the plug-in hybrid drivetrain. We’d even like to see the 200kW 2.0-litre turbo petrol from US and European models made available too.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler features proper off-roading hardware with a low range gearbox and a locking rear diff. More on how it all works off the beaten track below.
Ride, Handling and Off-Road: 8.0/10
On paved roads, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler is about setting a realistic expectation of what to expect. Brace yourself for a loud, unsophisticated truck-like ride, with a very rudimentary fee. The suspension around town lends the Wrangler a stiff, unsettled ride that bobs up and town over bumps. It’s far from uncomfortable, but don’t expect the Wrangler to be a well-riding car. It’s rather loud too, with tonnes of noise coming in through the fabric removable roof. Think driving a convertible all year round with the roof always down and you’ll get the idea. Driving in the rain feels like you have a monsoon outside, even if the new Wrangler has no leaks anymore. On a sunny day however, opening the Wrangler’s roof feels divine, making you feel in touch with the outdoors and making any drive special.
You’ll be tempted to rev the V6 engine as it sounds fabulous, but you have to be prepared to slow right down when you see a corner coming up. The Wrangler isn’t dangerous, but it is one of the worst handling cars we’ve reviewed on road. It rolls, feels slow to respond and just doesn’t have much grip through corners. The steering isn’t even a modern rack and pinion system (to reduce feedback off road) meaning there is no steering feel on-road. At higher speeds, the Wrangler constantly fidgets and you’re forced to make many adjustments just to keep it in its lane. Oh and the brakes… They respond well, but make the whole Wrangler bob up and down as you use them
The Wrangler’s imposing dimensions also take some getting used to in the carpark, as the flat nose restricts the view out front, whilst rear visibility is lacking too. The reversing camera comes in very handy.
Off-road, all of the Wrangler’s dynamic on-road shortcomings are forgiven. Few cars can match this car’s off-road ability out of the box. Suddenly, with the roof peeled back and on our favourite off-road tracks in the Kinglake National Park, north of Melbourne, the Wrangler felt perfect.
It’s got proper under-body skid plates and low-range gearing to tackle steep inclines. The full-time four-wheel drive system worked without a hitch even on steep ruts, the Wrangler’s short overhangs and steep approach and departure angles helping. Our Wrangler also showed its pitch, roll and steering angle on the centre console’s screen. Very nifty in helping us navigate a steep incline. This is a serious off-roader, best enjoyed well beyond the suburbs on challenging 4X4 tracks suited to the toughest of cars.
Interior & Practicality: 8/10
Jeep has worked hard to give this generation of Wrangler a much better interior than Wranglers of old. It’s far from perfect but a much nicer place to spend time in than before.
The driving position is probably the worst we’ve ever seen. Being designed originally for LHD markets, Aussie RHD Wranglers have a wide transmission tunnel right where your left foot should go. Once you get comfortable in the large, broad driver’s seat, the big leather-trimmed steering wheel falls to hand nicely and feels rather good and the clear instruments are intuitive and good to look at. Your front passenger will have plenty of space to stretch out, and there’s a handy grab handle right in front of them for use over bumpy terrain. Cabin storage isn’t the best as the glovebox is rather tiny, much like the door bins which feature shallow nets.
The dashboard looks like a modern take on a classic. It feels well made and hard wearing. Quirky features abound, even the window control buttons are right below the climate-control dials and not on the doors. Oh and did we mention the doors are fully removable? Even the windscreen can be removed for the ultimate safari experience.
The chunky shifters for the transmission and the 4X4 system feel solid but have to be yanked with force sometimes. We love the little Willys Jeep logos on the gear shifter and in other spots such as the base of the windscreen.
The infotainment works very well, with the Wrangler’s large and clear 8.4-inch touchscreen feeling responsive. The menus are easy to use and the off-road stats prove invaluable when the going gets rough. The Alpine sound system is perfect for pumping some beats both around town and on the 4X4 track.
In the back, there’s decent room for two adults, or three at a squeeze on the flat bench. Things in this 5-door Wrangler Unlimited don’t feel to bad overall, with quite decent knee and head room for even someone 190cm tall. Rear seat folk get air-conditioning vents, a 230V outlet, and two cupholders on the floor.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler’s boot has a claimed 898-litres of space, expanding to 2,050L with the 60:40 split rear seats folded down. This is rather cavernous for a 4X4, meaning the Wrangler will be the perfect adventure companion. The ‘trail rail’ management system is also in the boot, giving you many adjustable tie down points.
Service & Warranty: 9/10
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Overland requires a service every 12 months or 12,000km. Jeep now offers five years of capped-price servicing, with each service costing $399. Five years of servicing costs will set you back $1,995, rather cheap considering the Wrangler’s rugged, off-road credentials.
Jeep also offers a five-year, 100,000km warranty with a roadside assistance if you service your Wrangler through a Jeep deanship.
The Jeep Wrangler Overland Unlimited DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.9/10
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Overland is the ultimate version of America’s iconic go-anywhere off-roader. It’s been throughly updated with this current generation, has tons of character and can get places few other cars can.
It does have quite a few downsides however. Its unsophisticated on-road, rather expensive and not particularly safe. If you don’t venture out of town very often and engage in the hardcore off-roading, we’d suggest another SUV. Most will suit you better than the Wrangler. A Suzuki Jimny might also be up your alley if you want to do some bush-bashing. But if you’ve already set your mind on the Jeep Wrangler, we’re not here to rain on your parade. Just keep its on-road behaviour in mind and revel in driving Jeep’s authentic American icon.