Experienced by Adrian McQueen
Automotive Rhythms drove up to Summit Point Motorsport Park in West Virginia this past week where weather conditions were less than ideal for commuter driving but perfect for the off-road course. At my disposal were multiple 2016 Jeep Wrangler models (Limited and Unlimited) in two-door and four-door versions. The rough and ready trail rider is also available with soft and hard tops as well as a package that includes both. This is helpful for many Wrangler enthusiasts that switch back and forth as the seasons change such as our very own Leon Brittain who is owner to a 2014 Wrangler.
At first approach the body and styling of the Jeep utility hasn’t changed much. Of course the key features are pointed out including the classic round headlamps, seven-slot grille, trapezoid wheel flares, removable doors, exposed hinges, a fold-down windshield, and innovative removable tops and half doors. Also, let’s not forget the large rear windows engineered for greater visibility. A particularly appealing upgrade is the body-color hardtop option as part of the Premium Appearance Package for the Wrangler Rubicon and Sahara models.
The Jeep Wrangler’s interior is restyled and has received continuous upgrades each year, providing a top-of-the-line feel with automatic temperature controls, heated premium leather seats, power mirrors, and steering wheel controls for vehicle systems. Raising the bar in the technology lane, the Wrangler features a USB port which connects to the media center, 12-volt accessory outlets, and a 115-volt AC outlet to power select three-pronged home electronics. Ideal for road trips or just heading in for a business meeting these are features that will surely come in handy. Also, the more intuitive technology has been upgraded such as Uconnect multi-media including voice recognition, Bluetooth streaming audio, navigation, and SiriusXM Radio. With buttons on the front and rear of the steering wheel the driver can control a number of features that also keeps their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
When it was time to get dirty on the trails like pigs in a pen the Wrangler, as usual, exceeded all expectations. Whether we were climbing vigorous hills, trekking through deep waters, or forging through muddy trenches, the Wrangler handled it with aplomb. With 4-Low engaged I made it through the Summit Point handling course unscathed.
Chrysler’s latest Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 paired with either a 5-speed automatic transmission or the 6-speed manual performed tremendously well as I evaluated both models. The V6 and automatic combination are both smooth and powerful together. The Wrangler now kicks out 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque while delivering legendary 4WD experiences. In addition, the electronic sway bar disconnect surely comes in handy when you find yourself in awkward trail riding situations. The Wranglers are packed with a bevy of safety and security features such as the standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Roll Mitigation, Trailer-sway Control, Hill-start Assist, and Brake Traction Control.
For the limitless and diverse group of Jeep aficionados the lineup includes the base Sport, the finer Sahara, and the ultimate Rubicon models. Moreover, Jeep has no shortage of special editions like the Freedom Edition, Willys Wheeler Edition, and the hardcore Rubicon Hard Rock Edition. Also be on the lookout for the Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition. This is available on the Wrangler or the Wrangler Unlimited. The Black Bear Pass route is a popular Jeep Jamboree trail in Telluride, Colorado from Red Mountain Pass to Telluride. It’s less than 10 miles long, but high altitudes (from 11,018 to 12,840 feet), extremely narrow stretches, and a series of precipitous switchbacks descending to Telluride make it a hold-your-breath proposition. The Black Bear Edition is available in nine colors: Billet Silver, Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal, Hydro Blue, Hypergreen, Rhino, and Tank.
Starting from $30,000 for a Jeep Wrangler Sport, expect a price range up to $45,000+ for a Rubicon. Built in the Toledo Supplier Park in Toledo, Ohio, the 2016 Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited have received vital changes over the past few model years to speed them up to the amenities that many other SUVs offer. However, their utility prowess is second to none. Happy trail riding!