Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Overland 2014 review

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Overland 2014 review

For those people who aren’t familiar with the origins of the Jeep brand, the Overland name dates back to the 1900s.

Overland front 34John Willys bought the brand from another company and created the Willys-Overland motor company in 1912, which then went onto create the first Jeep for the US military, known as the Willys MB in 1941.

Under the stewardship of Daimler-Chrysler, Jeep brought the Overland name back into the market in 2003 when it created a new luxury trim level for the Grand Cherokee, which sat above the Laredo and Limited specification grades. And still does.

Now locally Jeep has done the same for the two-door Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited, the luxury Overland model joins the Sport and Rubicon grades.

Overland NavJeep says the Overland package represents a saving of more than $7000 if all of the options were added to a Sport or Rubicon. The retail price for the Wrangler Unlimited Overland is $64,990, versus $62,990 for the trail ready Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon or $58,990 for the Wrangler Unlimited Sport. All three variants are powered by the 3.6-Litre Pentastar V6 engine with a five-speed automatic transmission. The engine delivers 209kW and 347Nm of torque, with 90% of the maximum torque available between 1,800 and 6,350 rpm. Fuel consumption for the combined cycle is 11.7L/100km.

A 2.8-Litre four-cylinder diesel engine is solely available for the Wrangler Unlimited Sport.

Overland aerialExternally the top-of the line Wrangler Unlimited Overland is distinguished by unique 18 inch alloy wheels (with a cute little Willy’s MB graphic etched onto the wheel face) and the plastic body flares (wheel arches) and removable roof panels are painted in the same colour as the body, rather than being left in matte black. Getting in and out of the vehicle is made easier by the standard fitting of tubular side steps and these are also very useful when removing the twin rooftop panels above the driver and front passenger seat. The rear roof panel and tailgate can also be removed and replaced with the Sunrider soft top should an owner want the full-convertible effect during the warmer months of the year.

Overland bootWhile some people might unkindly call it the fridge effect, I quite liked the overall monotone look of the vehicle, especially with the darker privacy tint on the rear doors, rear cabin glass, and the tailgate glass.

In this age of aerodynamics, its nice to have a vehicle that celebrates it’s boxy design cues, and doesn’t apologise for doing so. Unlike the equally boxy, (and iconic) Land Rover Defender, which will cease production in December 2015, theres still plenty of life left in the Wrangler Unlimited thanks to its more modern design in terms of engineering and engines, yet its still highly capable off road too.

Overland handleThe Overland specification for the Wrangler Unlimited includes automatic headlamps, fog lamps, a reversing camera, climate controlled air-conditioning, leather upholstery with seat heaters for the driver and passenger, as well as a chrome leather wrapped shift knob, and bright interior accents. Further equipment includes an Alpine audio system and media centre 731N navigation system with 16.5cm touch screen, GPS navigation, 40GB hard drive (4,250 song capacity), voice command with bluetooth, hands-free calling, and audio sync, plus six speakers and an audio jack.

So whats it like on and off road?

Overland rear 34On road it feels a bit truck-like in it’s ride, steering and handling, and this is no bad thing. The Wrangler Unlimited is not a hot hatch and shouldn’t be driven in such fashion.

There is more than enough get up and go from the Pentastar V6 to keep other with other motorists at the traffic light grand prix and on the motorway, but a heavy right foot will cost at the pump. Our best fuel consumption figure was just under 13L/100km and our worst was more than 15l/100km!

Parking the beast in tight spaces in a parking building is certainly made easier with the reversing camera, and it is also very useful when driving off-road, as it allows you to see obstacles from the cabin that normally a experienced off-roader would get out and have a look at before backing up.

Overland front onOne thing to be mindful of is the steering lock of the Wrangler, the turning circle is compromised by the all wheel drive system, so often we found ourselves executing the old fashioned three-point turn when exiting a car park. Backing into a space, rather than driving into a space is recommended.  Really hard-core off-roaders will opt for the less luxuriously appointed Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon as this comes from the factory trail ready with a Rock-Trac 4.0:1 low-gear ratio transfer case, Tru-Lok front and rear locking differentials, a front sway bar disconnect system, heavy-duty side and underbody rock rails, and steel plated off-road skid plates.

The Unlimited Overland uses different system to the Rubicon which is called Command-Trac. It also has shift-on-the-fly transfer case to engage high or low range all-wheel-drive, but for the majority of our test run, we left the vehicle in rear-drive mode.

Overland sideWe were mindful that while the Overland is still a very capable off-road machine, it is not as well equipped for bush bashing as the Renegade, so we didn’t go looking for some testing bush tracks. Instead for the photo shoot shoot we decided to head to the beach as many owners will do and selected low range four-wheel-drive to crawl along a rocky shoreline at low tide.

This is easily done by selecting neutral position on the automatic gear shift, and then pulling the transfer lever down from high range two-wheel-drive, through high range four-wheel-drive, and then down into low range.  Doing this also disengages the traction-control system, which is deemed unnecessary for low-range off-road conditions, as sometimes wheel slip is needed to create traction and momentum to get the vehicle out of slippery situations.

Our very short off-load excursion at Faulkner Bay didn’t even scratch the surface of the Wrangler Unlimited’s capability because we didn’t want to scratch Fiat-Chrysler’s brand new press car!

For those folks who want a vehicle to suit an active lifestyle, tow a boat, take the kids camping, or simply make a statement, the Wrangler Unlimited Overland ticks all these boxes, and further more it does so with the comport and amenities of a luxury SUV.

Price $64,990

Pros

  • Iconic off-road capability
  • Modern responsive engine
  • Great style
  • Footwells can be hosed out

Cons

  • Challenging turning circle
  • Average fuel consumption

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.6L 24V VVT V6 petrol
  • Power: 209kW @ 6350rpm
  • Torque: 347 Nm @ 4300rpm
  • Combined fuel consumption: 11.9L/100km
  • C02 emissions: 276g/km
  • Zero to 100km/h: 8.9 secs
  • Maximum speed: 180 km/h
  • Kerb weight: 2053kg
  • Service interval: 12,000km

 Standard Features

  • • Advanced multi-stage driver and front-passenger and front- passenger seat-mounted side air bags
  • • 4-wheel disc with anti-lock brake system (ABS) with off-road calibration
  • • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Brake Assist, traction control,
  • Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM) and Brake Locking Differentials (BLD)
  • • Sentry Key® anti-theft engine immobiliser
  • Air-conditioning
  • Media Centre 130 CD/DVD/MP3 radio(REL) with Audio Jack
  • 6-speakers
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring (TPM) warning lamp
  • Headlamp levelling system, manual
  • Next Generation heavy-duty Dana axles
  • Command-Trac four-wheel drive system
  • Quadra-Coil; front 5-link solid axle and rear 5-link solid axle with heavy- duty with monotube gas-charged shock absorbers
  • Transfer case and fuel tank skid plates

 Dimensions

  • Wheelbase: 2947mm
  • Overall length: 4751mm
  • Overall height: 1840mm
  • Overall width: 1877mm
  • Seating capacity: 5
  • Head room front/rear: 1075mm/1025mm
  • Leg room front /rear: 1039mm/921mm
  • Shoulder room front/rear: 1415mm/1448mm
  • Hip room front/rear: 1393mm/1390mm
  • Cargo volume (L): 498L behind seat /935L seat folded
  • Overhang front/rear: 804mm/1000mm
  • Track front/rear: 1572/1572mm
  • Ground clearance front/rear: 228/220mm
  • Approach angle: 35°
  • Breakover angle: 18°
  • Departure angle: 28°

 

 

 

 

Words and photos:

 

 

« | »

Let us know what you think

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Road Tests

Silver Sponsors

Car and SUV Team

Richard-Edwards-2016Richard Edwards

Managing editor

linkedinphotoDarren Cottingham

Motoring writer

robertbarry-headRobert Barry

Chief reporter

Ian-Ferguson-6Ian Ferguson

Advertising Consultant

debDeborah Baxter

Operations Manager

RSS Latest News from Autotalk

RSS Latest News from Dieseltalk

Read previous post:
Ftype 3:4
Jaguar F-Type convertible 2014 review

It has been a long time coming but the new Jaguar F-Type convertible is absolutely the spiritual successor to the...

Close