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Jeep Wrangler vs. Unlimited

1. Differences between Jeep Wrangler and Unlimited

Moving inside the two vehicles, you will notice quite a few similarities. The dashboard layout, seats, and seat belts are all basically identical in both vehicles. Obviously, because the Unlimited is a longer vehicle, there is additional space behind the rear seats. The main differences come when comparing the Wrangler Unlimited with the 2-door model. With the 2-door Wrangler, rear seat passengers need to gain access through the front doors and fold the front seat forward. This can be a bit of a hassle at times, but at least your passengers can have fun removing the Wrangler doors. The Wrangler Unlimited provides rear seat passengers with the ability to enter the vehicle and exit the vehicle as if it were a regular 4-door car. Also, the Unlimited model has a tailgate. With the regular 2-door Wrangler, you need to open the rear window and lift the rear glass, which can be quite heavy. This puts excess wear on the rear window hinges and can ultimately cause the hinges to break. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Jeep Wrangler has a classic design that is not exaggerated and a historically inspired front grille and round headlights, while the Wrangler Unlimited is a 4-door only design and features a more modern-looking square-like front grille and rectangular headlights. The Wrangler has removable doors and a fold-down windshield. However, the Unlimited Jeep has 4 normal doors with roll-up windows, actual full waterproofing, and a fixed windshield. The differences in exterior design between the two models are a result of the need to separate the two because the Wrangler Unlimited is its own model. This means that the two models, while similar in many ways, actually have different target markets and are not targeted at the same consumer.

1.1. Exterior design

The standard two-door Wrangler is known for being much less comfortable than the Unlimited, which is a large reason why sports utility vehicles, in general, do not make two-door models. To counteract this, Jeep offers its standard Jeep with optional half doors that are intended to offer open-air driving and most of the amenities of a sport utility vehicle. However, maintenance of the old-style Wrangler has proved to be insufficient. So, by comparing the 2021 models, there is not a notable difference in the doors between the two models. Despite this, the two models are distinguishable by the grille build of the Unlimited, which was changed in a 2007 model to emulate that of a normal car with the slanted windshield. This does not mean that the standard Wrangler lacks any features of style and durability because the frame and grille still maintain a classic appearance that is associated with older Jeeps, not to mention the continued use of a vertical windshield. All in all, although the two models have differing styles and features, Jeep has maintained the popular box-style body frame to build upon their tradition of making off-road vehicles.

The most obvious feature of the exterior design that differentiates between the Wrangler and the Unlimited is their size. The limitation of the standard Jeep to a two-door model meant that Jeep had to explore alternative options to capture the market of many people who preferred and needed more space. As opposed to a sports utility vehicle, the options for a two-door Jeep were slim. Thus, it resulted in the four-door Unlimited Jeep, which is considerably more suburban than the standard off-road vehicle. Conversely, the standard Wrangler comes in either a hardtop or soft top, allowing it to maintain a varied look of an off-road vehicle depending on the various tastes of different consumers. The Unlimited only comes in a hardtop, so apart from its distinguishable full-frame doors incorporating roll-up windows, its exterior features emulate more of that of a normal car than an SUV. It's not to say that the Unlimited Jeep is a lesser vehicle; it was built with the same structural chassis and body. It's just that the extra length and weight of an Unlimited Jeep mandate a different molding to maintain a freshened appearance. [8][9][10][11][12][13]

1.2. Interior features

Wranglers come with durable, easy-to-clean interiors that are great for getting dirty. They also come with drain plugs in the floor for easy cleanout. The regular Wrangler has either a vinyl or cloth top. The front section can be a hard top, premium soft top, or standard soft top. You can remove this top for an open-air ride. The regular Wrangler also features removable doors that enhance an open-air driving experience. Wrangler Unlimited models come with an easy-to-clean interior as well but are generally more luxurious than the regular Wrangler models. Unlimited models also have carpeted floors and upholstery, whereas the regular models have drain plugs and optional vinyl floors. The long-wheelbase Unlimiteds do not have a removable top or doors option at this time, although it is rumored to be a possible future upgrade.

1.3. Cargo space

Wrangler provides a cargo volume of 17.1 cubic feet with all seats up, and a maximum cargo volume of 56.5 cubic feet with rear seats folded. Meanwhile, the Wrangler Unlimited provides a cargo volume of 13 cubic feet with all seats up, and a maximum cargo area of 86.8 cubic feet. This is sufficient to add extra luggage and other cargo for a long adventurous trip. Additionally, the cargo area of Wrangler Unlimited is protected from the outdoor weather conditions, as the area is covered unlike Wrangler, which has an open load area. This provides more area to store cargo where security is not an issue.

Jeep Wrangler is known for its off-road capabilities and rugged exterior design. Its rugged design makes it capable of traversing extreme off-road conditions. In contrast, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited sacrifices some of the rugged design for extra cargo space. This is achieved by expanding the cargo area despite the fact that cargo space in Wrangler Unlimited is still limited when compared to other SUV vehicles.

1.4. Off-road capabilities

Equipping the Unlimited up to the Rubicon level has always been a fascinating question. The Rubicon trail is the ultimate test of the Jeep, and the Rubicon level of the Wrangler has proven itself there time and time again. The ambiance and prestige of taking the Unlimited through the Rubicon trail at the Rubicon level is nice, but it is not very practical. Due to the longer wheelbase of the Unlimited, it may come across several situations on the Rubicon trail where it could get stuck at a spot which the regular Wrangler would pass easily. But this is a sort of mixed opinion. I have seen people taking stock Tahoes through the Rubicon trail and making it somehow. So, it all depends on the skill of the driver, but considering the same skill set, the Wrangler stands a better chance on the Rubicon trail than the Unlimited. The Rubicon trail is one of the toughest trails. It depends on the kind of off-roading you usually do. If you are a beginner or a casual off-roader who does not venture on very tough trails, then the Unlimited is a very good choice due to its comfort and cargo storage space.

The bases of both are the same, but in terms of wheelbase, the Wrangler has a wheelbase of 96.8" while the Unlimited has a wheelbase of 103.4". The Unlimited has a slight edge over the Wrangler due to its longer wheelbase. The longer wheelbase helps improve off-roading capability by allowing for a more controlled fashion when getting out of an obstacle. Articulation is way better on both the Wrangler and Unlimited due to the solid front and rear axles and, of course, it has 4WD. The Unlimited can feel a bit heavy on very tight off-roading trails due to its long wheelbase, and this may result in some undercarriage damage.

1.5. Price range

On the other hand, a 2010 4-door Jeep Unlimited has an MSRP of about $24,390 - $34,770, with a used 2006 4-door usually costing about the same as a mid-2000s Wrangler or a bit more. So definitely, people with any budget can afford a used Jeep Wrangler, yet if the option of a Wrangler or an Unlimited arises, people in the budget of a new Wrangler may be inclined to get an older Unlimited instead.

First of all, a Wrangler or Unlimited will cost more than most cars of a similar size, SUV or otherwise. This is in part due to Jeeps being quality vehicles with good resale value. A more direct comparison of prices goes as follows. A new 2010 2-door Jeep Wrangler has an MSRP of about $21,165 - $32,115 and a used one from the mid-2000s usually costs anywhere from $12,000 - $18,000 depending on the condition and mileage of the vehicle.

Price is always an important factor to any product that a customer may be considering to buy. Like any car, the price of a Jeep Wrangler or Unlimited can vary widely depending on the year, mileage, and condition of the vehicle. However, one comparative statement that has some truth is that generally, Jeeps get more expensive as they get older. For the purpose of this comparison, new and newish used Jeeps will be examined.

2. Pros and cons of Jeep Wrangler

Advantages of Jeep Wrangler over other vehicles of its class: • Short wheelbase: The short 93.4" wheelbase keeps the Wrangler very capable off-road. The primary advantage of a short wheelbase is maneuverability. It is able to tackle very tight and technical trails, experience less body damage when passing through certain obstacles, and achieve steeper departure and approach angles. • Availability of six-speed manual transmission: The six-speed manual is the ultimate in control of your vehicle. It is especially useful when off-roading and is not available with many vehicles in its class. • Front and rear solid axles: The axle is a primary component of a vehicle's suspension. A solid axle is considered the best for off-roading as it is very durable and rugged. It improves the vehicle's off-road capability, requiring fewer modifications to the other components. The solid axles on the Wrangler are a huge advantage over the independent front suspension (IFS) of other vehicles in its class, providing better traction over the varied terrain that off-road trails offer. • Removable top and doors: The ability to take off the top and/or doors is a fun feature of the Wrangler that brings Jeep back to its roots. There are very few vehicles available with this feature today. It is especially enjoyed when off-roading, making the surroundings more accessible and enjoyable. The first time you take off the top and doors and take your Jeep down a trail, you'll wonder why you didn't buy a Wrangler sooner.

Pros and cons of Jeep Wrangler...

2.1. Advantages of Jeep Wrangler

Jeeps have always been known for being tough vehicles. The Wrangler is by far the best when it comes to off-roading. Stock for stock, a Wrangler can handle terrain that most cars would get stuck on. Its 4-wheel drive capabilities are great in snow and other weather conditions. The Wrangler is also built with a sturdy frame that can handle a rollover. The interior of a Wrangler is designed to be easily cleaned. The seats are made of a water-resistant material that can be hosed down if they get dirty. The carpet is not perfectly fitted to the floor, so it is easy to remove and shake out if it gets dirty. This can give you peace of mind, especially if you have kids that like to make a mess. Wranglers are also great for towing and have a high towing capacity. Wranglers are known to last through multiple generations. This being said, whenever the Jeep gets old, it can become a project car. There are many things you can do to make a Wrangler customized to your liking. With high reliability and its lasting durability, the Jeep can be passed down to your children as their first vehicle. Wranglers also have a huge following, so if you ever have problems, there is always someone that can lend a helping hand.

Resale value of a Wrangler is much higher compared to other cars. The price of a used Wrangler is also not far off from a new one. This being said, if you ever decide to sell the car, you can retain most of your money if the car was well maintained. The cost to own a Wrangler is also lower because its repairs are mostly cheap and easy to fix, the gas mileage is pretty bearable, and it is not that hard to find affordable parts. The cost for insurance is low as well. This all relates to having more money in your pocket to spend on other things.

The Jeep Wrangler has been a popular car among the Jeep community. It has been dominant compared to its competitors when it comes to the pros. In this case, the advantages for the Jeep are the pros.

2.2. Disadvantages of Jeep Wrangler

And the last con will be that in such a short price, one can get many more feature-rich luxurious vehicles, but again that won’t be a Jeep then.

Jeep Wrangler provides riding thrills and off-roading experience that no other vehicle can match up with, but this particular attribute is a bit negative for a daily driver. It's not that every Wrangler user is taking his vehicle daily off-road, so for such rides, the vehicle behaves a bit noisy and bumpy.

Another significant con for Jeep Wrangler will be its fuel economy. Just imagine the current status when the world is so much worried about the depleting fuel resources. Having such giants on the roads will surely attract attention of the government to tax them more on fuel. This is already happening in many countries. The new 3.8L V6 is not considered efficient when compared to the other V6 in the same class vehicles.

Storage space in the Jeep Wrangler is not enough. Although with rear seats folded and rear space attached with rear, the cargo space has increased significantly. This space again becomes a compromise to have an open ride with no top on as it’s used for keeping the windows and doors, etc. So a buyer has to buy a small garage shed to dump all the extras or a second vehicle to keep all these accessories.

With soft tops installed in the Jeep Wrangler, they are very prone to theft. It is not that someone will try to steal from your vehicle every time, but the ease with which the top can be torn and items can be stolen from inside becomes annoying. The soft top has to be zipped or unzipped progressively from one end to the other. This again is a hassle sometimes during bad weather. The hard tops are too expensive and not easy to install by oneself. The internet is filled with such complaints. The hard top would have been a good option if it was accepted in the price range for all and easier to install.

Unfolding the pros of Jeep Wrangler, aforementioned was details on all the acknowledged strengths of Jeep Wrangler, absolute distinguisher for the owner and a competent onlooker. Here are some cons of the vehicle that have been observed.

3. Pros and cons of Jeep Unlimited

The Unlimited still looks like a Jeep, with better ground clearance and approach and departure angles than before, at 8.8 to 10 inches, 41.8 and 37.2 degrees, respectively. All this comes with easier access to the back seat and cargo area, with four real doors and a lower lift-over height for the rear cargo area. A fold and tumble feature allows easy entrance to the rear seat area, even if the exit is best suited for a younger person to do the tumbling. This is a huge advantage over a Wrangler, and a family will appreciate these conveniences.

The Jeep Unlimited also has more space for cargo and passengers. The Wrangler Unlimited's 20.6-inch-longer body brings a surprisingly spacious two-person rear seat. Hip and shoulder room are good, but the bench seat is better suited for two. Foot space is cramped for middle occupants and limited under the front seats. Cargo space is expansive, with a 31.5-cubic-foot cargo area behind the rear seat and 70.6 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. That's nearly 2.5 times as much cargo space as a two-door Wrangler.

One of the major advantages of the Jeep Unlimited is its towing capacity. It can tow up to 3500 pounds, which is at least 1000 pounds more than the standard Wrangler 2-door or 4-door, which is limited to 2000 pounds. The heavier duty Unlimited models come in at around 5000 pounds, which is a bit much for the lighter Wrangler.

3.1. Advantages of Jeep Unlimited

Step in and out of a stock Unlimited is also easier due to the slightly lower height. This can be an advantage if shorter people or children will be riding in the vehicle. Most Unlimiteds have side steps as well for easier entry and exit. These are optional on a TJ but will not fit properly due to the difference in wheelbase.

There are a few reasons why the stock Unlimited's longer wheelbase is an advantage. If you plan to drive your vehicle on a daily basis or you enjoy long highway trips, the extra wheelbase will provide a more comfortable highway ride. Also, a longer wheelbase can be an advantage off-road. The breakover angle of an Unlimited is only slightly worse than a TJ due to the longer rear overhang. Keep in mind that the breakover angle only becomes an issue when driving over obstacles which are higher than the clearance of your axles. The added stability of the longer wheelbase can be helpful in preventing a vehicle from tipping over on uneven terrain. Not to mention that in general, the added space is good for families and people who pack lots of gear.

The obvious advantage of an Unlimited over a standard Wrangler is cargo space. With the rear seat in use, there is slightly more than double the cargo room. This is due to the fact that most of the "extra" room in the back of an Unlimited is in added length behind the rear seat. When the rear seat is removed, the cargo space increase becomes more substantial.

3.2. Disadvantages of Jeep Unlimited

The gas mileage is not much different than the two-door Wranglers, but Unlimiteds have the "think Jeep, not gas" stigma. The four-door Wrangler has a larger surface area and more empty space inside than a two-door Wrangler. This means that the air conditioner and heater have to work hard to fill the entire cabin. The larger and heavier four-door Unlimited also puts more strain on the engine. The Unlimited has bigger tires and more ground clearance, making them harder to get in and out of. This is amplified for shorter people or children. Unlimiteds are often accessed by making a running jump into the driver's seat or getting a "boost" from the driver by stepping on the parking brake or tire. This can put unnecessary wear and tear on the interior and can be tough on the people doing the jumping. Unlimiteds do have more space and headroom inside, so this can be more comfortable for some people but harder for others.

Unlimiteds have slightly more body roll than the two-door Wranglers due to having a higher center of gravity. This can be fixed by getting new coil springs and shocks to lift the Jeep and make it higher off the ground.

The next biggest downfall of the Unlimiteds is the rear overhang. The longer wheelbase moves the rear tires further back, causing them to get hung up on obstacles that a two-door Wrangler would pass with ease. This also increases the departure angle. Departure angles are important when driving down steep hills, and higher departure angles are preferred as the Jeep will not bottom out as easily. Unlimiteds have a higher chance of hitting their rear bumper/tire on the ground when going down steep obstacles as a result of the higher angle. This can cause cosmetic damage and can hinder the Jeep from coming down safely. This problem can be fixed with aftermarket rear bumpers that stick out less and are more sturdy.

There aren't many negative aspects of the four-door Unlimited as they are designed to be versatile. The biggest disadvantage is the larger turning radius on the Unlimited. This is expected because of the longer wheelbase, but it still hinders maneuverability. The wider turning radius, paired with the longer wheelbase, also makes the Unlimited harder to fit in the tight trails and woods that the two-door Wranglers can fit through with ease.

4. Which one is right for you?

Families and those planning on using their Jeeps for general transportation often lean towards the Wrangler Unlimited due to its increased passenger and cargo space. The 4-door Wrangler is a more practical daily driver with characteristics very similar to a small SUV. There is no doubt that the 4-door provides a smoother and more comfortable ride on-road and its long wheelbase, low-end torque and increased weight make it a great towing vehicle. Anyone planning extensive overland travel will appreciate the increased range at around 350 miles per tank of diesel or gasoline. The additional ~22 gallon fuel capacity for the 4-door is gained by using the extra space in the rear of the vehicle in place of the 2-door's factory fuel tank location. Although it's still quite capable off-road, those purchasing a 4-door Wrangler should keep in mind that its longer wheelbase and low-hanging plastic side steps make it more likely to get hung up on obstacles.

When considering the Wrangler, utility tops the list as a deciding factor for many people. The 2-door Wrangler has a longer wheelbase and therefore is more limited in terms of approach and departure angles when compared to the Unlimited. This does not make the 2-door Wrangler incapable off-road, it is just something to consider for those planning on tackling more extreme trails. However, for every other type of driving the shorter wheelbase offers the advantage of increased maneuverability in tight spaces. This combined with the fact that the 2-door is lighter and has stiffer spring rates means it's a fun and capable vehicle for spirited street driving. People interested in the Wrangler may also be drawn to the fact that it's a return to the classic Jeep style due to its similarities to the CJ. This should be a consideration for anyone nostalgic to own a Wrangler that's closer to what they learned to drive in and often translates to good resale values for used 2-door Wranglers.

There are several considerations to think about when deciding between the Wrangler and the Unlimited. Some are practical and specific to each person's situation, some have to do with lifestyle, and some of the decisions are based on the number of options and configurations available for each class of vehicles.

4.1. Considerations for choosing Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is a compact 4WD that is good on the trails as it is on the road. It is a really good buy because of the classic look and the 4.0L straight 6 engine which has won awards. The Wrangler is a well-rounded vehicle that is made to fit a wide variety of drivers. It has a removable soft top or hard top, or no top at all. All of the tops are quick and easy to remove. It has removable doors which are also very quick and easy, and it has roll-up windows. This is what makes a Wrangler, a Wrangler. The Wrangler fits people who live in the city, as well as the country. It can be used as a daily driver and still be taken off-road on the weekends. Because the Wrangler is smaller, it is very good for off-roading on narrow trails. The short wheelbase allows it to climb hills and go around sharp turns with ease. Because it is lighter and smaller, it is better on gas than a Jeep Unlimited. Finally, the Wrangler is cheaper. This is good for someone who wants a new vehicle but does not want to go broke buying it. And this is good for someone who wants to buy a new vehicle with intentions of customizing it. Since it is cheaper, it is less to lose if it gets damaged while on the trails. And the money saved can be used later for customized parts.

4.2. Considerations for choosing Jeep Unlimited

Because the Unlimited still shares many body-on-frame characteristics from its leaf sprung TJ predecessor, the frame has been designed to twist to some extent, resulting in sucked door seals and creaking body panels. Compared to the Wrangler, the Unlimiteds have performed poorly in 4x4 side-tilt tests due to the longer wheelbase. Failure to sit correctly on an RTI ramp and the simple fact that the Unlimited tops the chart for vehicle rollover rates are clear indicators that the original short-wheelbase Wrangler is more adept in off-road situations. Jeep's Command-Trac shift-on-the-fly 4x4 transfer case is more than adequate for most off-road enthusiasts and is an improvement from the NP231 found in earlier TJs. However, there are some with newer JK generations that favor the newer and more complicated Rock-Trac Rubicon transfer case featuring a 4:1 low range gear reduction for heavy off-road use.

A big draw of the Wrangler Unlimited model is the fact they share all the off-road capability and features of the standard short-wheelbase Wrangler. However, modifications to the JK Wrangler in order to make it fit 4 doors had an effect on vehicle rigidity, and this has been reflected in changes to the Unlimited in terms of 4x4 capability. Mitsubishi builds the NS and EW bodies by engineering in rigidity and strength and assessing weak points, and then reinforcing them using braces and guards. At Jeep, their 4x4 history has been evolving with longitudinal uni-frame construction, and this was first seen in 1984 with the introduction of the first Cherokee to replace the SJ Wagoneer. The uni-frame design basically consists of a boxed frame with a floor plan resting overtop, and it follows the frame's contours to maintain strength and rigidity through the center of the vehicle, benefitting from a lower center of gravity than traditional body-on-frame designs.

With only two possible typical powertrains and two different transmissions, a Wrangler Unlimited is available with three possible Jeep 4WD systems, which can make your decision easier based on exactly what kind of use you intend for the Unlimited. For casual around-town driving, the Selec-Trac system might be the best option, as it provides full-time capability with the ability to place the transfer case in 2WD for dry-pavement conditions.


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Jeep Wrangler vs. Unlimited

The Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited are both capable off-road vehicles, but the Unlimited model offers additional interior space with its four-door design, making it a great choice for families or those needing extra room. Both models maintain the iconic Jeep look and impressive off-road capabilities.