My review after a recent rental:
Having recently sold my 2015 Ford F-250 Powerstroke Platinum 4x4, I needed some off-road wheels to partake of our annual father/son varmint hunting trip. For many years, we have headed out from Houston to northern Wyoming to spend time together over varmint rifles and wide-open spaces.
A quick search of my Hertz rental app found a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4 door hardtop for $322 per week with unlimited miles. I considered the size and if it would hold our gear, then booked the reservation and picked it up on 06/19/2019 returning it on 06/28/2019. It had 4,500 miles on the odometer and we put an additional 3,186.1 miles on it during the time we had it.
It was a black 2019 Sahara and was amply outfitted including automatic transmission, sans the GPS option which is Hertz (and every other car rental company’s) way of lifting a few more dollars from a renter’s wallet. No worries, pocket Garmin to the rescue along with my Google Pixel 3 XL.
We loaded up and headed out early on the morning of the 20th 05:30 on with waypoints in Fort Worth, Amarillo, Raton, Trinidad, to finally stop in Fort Collins, CO for the night arriving at about 22:15. Struck out the next morning for Sheridan and arrived around 14:00 and grabbed a bite, then was off to check out the hunting site to find it in good order with a moving carpet of varmints.
It drove well and the headlights were more than adequate to illuminate the backroads, but the LED lighting system would have been a nice upgrade—particularly for the back-up lights which were woefully inadequate. In fact, if I buy one and cannot find the LED option, the back-up lights would be the very first upgrade. Acceleration was more than sufficient and after a few miles, I engaged the cruise control and settled in for the long drive with the XM radio playing in the background.
I assumed the engine of choice was the 3.6L V6, but did not bother to lift the hood prior to setting out. My first stop to refuel was outside Fort Worth and with such few miles on it, I waffled on checking the fluids, but then did. I was incredibly surprised to find a 2.0T engine housed within the bay. The oil levels were spot on, but the windshield washer fluid was low and going lower courtesy of the zillions of winged (or should I say de-winged) insects adoring the front of the vehicle and the entire surface of the windshield.
I topped off with 87 octane (in fact, I only ran 87 or 85 octane the entire trip and the engine never once complained about it) and continued our journey. The winds were very strong the entire trip and the Jeep had to be slightly “herded” when strong crosswinds would hit. Not unexpected with a higher vehicle, (my Powerstroke was affected too), so this was not given a second thought.
The 8-speed transmission never hunted for gears or hesitated, in fact, it was one of the best transmissions (except for the 9 speed in my AMG GLC43 Coupe) that I have driven in many years. The engine did not sound strained or whiny and though many will complain about it, the start/stop system was equivalent to that in my Mercedes cars and was not an issue for me. The 4x4 shifter was incredibly stiff to the point I thought it would break, but allowing the Jeep to roll slightly helped with the shifting. Subsequent shifts required far less exertion so I will write it off as a new transfer case.
We easily bested the hills and ravines of northern Wyoming and forded through at least 20” of water. At no time did it feel unstable or wanting for power nor did it allow dust to enter the cabin. The latter I find as a testament to the sealing that is more than ample on all of the openings. I cannot speak to the same for a soft top, but assume it would be similar. The rear tailgate did not have the hinge reinforcement option, but it did not feel “flimsy” when opened.
Overall, I am very impressed with the 2.0T engine and should I elect to buy a Jeep, it will definitely get the nod over the V6 option, but it will be the Rubicon so that I have the Dana 44 axles front and rear and the 4.10 ratio in both. The power and torque of the mighty mouse is on par with the V6, but fuel economy is where the 4 banger shines. Our overall average for the trip was 23.6 MPG and this was with 87 octane (or 85 octane in Colorado and Wyoming), highway speeds between 75 and 80, and 40+ miles of 4x4 Low mixed in (we averaged 62MPH for the trip).
Long term, it is my guess the V6 option will go the way of the dodo bird in favor of a more powerful version of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This seems to be the case across most every manufacturer’s powertrain line, though time will tell if it becomes the norm. In any case, the 2.0T will serve you well in the power and economy arena and those who are hesitant to own one should not be. Rent one and put several hundred miles on it and see for yourself.
• Fuel economy
• Plenty of torque in 4x4 to climb hills and ravines
• Smooth power
• Comfortable seats and ride—we drove from Denver to Houston via Kansas and never felt tired or stiff
• Decent space in the rear
• Jeep 4x4 durability
• Accuracy of fuel gauge. I missed an opportunity to fill up before entering the Kansas turnpike and had to search for a station. We went down to 7 miles before empty and thus I can testify it “works”!
• Poorly illuminated back-up lights (seriously to the point of being dangerous)
• Buffeting; when certain highway surfaces and speed are in sync buffeting occurs in the cabin to point of being a serious annoyance. This is even with a hard top and though not a show stopper, it did “wear” on me on such a long trip. Fortunately, it only occurred on Kansas highways, but I assume it could happen anywhere.
• Windshield durability. We had no less than 3 stars/cracks happen on the trip and the strikes were incredibly soft. While I understand that rock wins over glass, the windshield in the Jeep is not forgiving in the slightest. I am not sure if the angle is a contributor, but it did not fare well.
• Window switch location. Obviously, not a deal breaker and I totally understand the rationale, but it did take some conscious thought to remember the location.
• Glove compartment size. Owner’s manual, toolkit to remove the top and that is pretty much it. The center console does not provide much relief either and thus likely the reason for the option to have overhead storage in the headliner.