Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Jeep Wrangler Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Jeep Wrangler Overview

Body
Fear No Obstacle

The Jeep Wrangler possesses that rare automotive magic that allows it to appeal to men and women of all ages and economic makeup. That such a rudimentary design, now almost 15 years old, could have such a grip over the public is enough to make any automobile manufacturer green with envy. And though Jeep continues to show concept vehicles to replace the Wrangler, the public never seems to take to them, prefering the simplicity and durability of the current design.

Though the basic layout has been around for a while, Jeep has continued to make various improvements to the platform. Where older Wranglers once rode on a front leaf-spring suspension, today's vehicles employ a coil spring setup that greatly improves the Jeep's ride on paved road surfaces without compromising its off-road ability. Today's Wrangler offers more safety features too, like dual front airbags, three-point safety belts at all four corners and redesigned seatbacks with integrated head restraints that act to protect the driver and passenger's head in the event of an accident.

There are big changes under the hood as well where a new 2.4-liter engine replaces the old 2.5 that had been a part of Jeep lore almost as long as the Wrangler name itself. The Power Tech four-cylinder bumps horsepower up to 150 and is both quieter and more fuel-efficient than the engine it replaces. Available only in the base SE model, this small, light engine is still preferred by many off-road enthusiasts because it sits back close to the Wrangler's firewall, helping it attain better front-to-rear balance that is critical for serious four-wheeling excursions. You'll appreciate this engine's newfound low-end torque and additional power, especially when driving on the highway or when climbing steep elevations; both areas that used to dog previous four-cylinder Wranglers. The powerhouse 4.0-liter inline six remains the only other engine offered and is now standard in all models except the SE.

The Jeep model range includes the SE, X, Sport, Sahara and the all-new Rubicon. Models are available in both soft and hard tops, with the SE and X offering metal half doors with canvas lined plastic window inserts; Sport, Sahara and Rubicon all feature full steel doors with roll-down glass windows that are optional on the SE and X. The Wrangler's half doors are really little more than a way to keep wind and foul weather out of the cabin; we think if your Wrangler is going to serve as your daily driver, you'll be much happier with the convenience and added safety the full steel doors provide. If you have room to store the optional hardtop, you'll find that your Wrangler can offer you the best of both worlds, being a soft top in the summer and a hard top in the winter.

Unlike many of today's SUVs, the Wrangler makes no pretense of offering a car-like ride or interior environment. Driving a Wrangler is about as close to roughing it as you can get in a mechanized vehicle. There is plenty of wind noise and not much in the way of insulation to keep out the cold. Thankfully, the Wrangler does come with a civilized heater and upgraded audio systems that can overpower most of what nature can dish out. The new seats are comfortable, with soft foam bottom cushions and an additional 20 millimeters of seat travel. A new optional speaker package replaces the old soundbar with two small speaker pods complete with built in lighting. Options include air conditioning, Trac-lock limited slip rear differential, ABS, a 6-disc in-dash CD player and a number of wheel and tire packages.

For true off-road junkies—the types that save up all year to attend the weeklong Rubicon event—Jeep has appropriately named its newest Wrangler the Rubicon. This is the most extreme Wrangler you can buy in stock form and comes standard with front and rear Dana model 44 axles and a 4:1 low-range transfer case. A dash-mounted switch that allows the driver to lock the two axles and intermittently lock and unlock the front axle at will controls the Rubicon's mechanical underpinnings. The Rubicon's other features include additional skid plating, 31-inch tall tires wrapped around 16-inch alloy wheels and upgraded shocks and springs.

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