Jeep Wrangler review: An iconic off-roader that’s stayed true to its roots 

Love them or hate them — and you should love them, says Rosie Paterson — the Jeep Wrangler can handle anything you throw at it and then some.

It is a truth universally acknowledged by 99% of the world’s female population that if you want to get a date in the diary to meet up with a group of friends, you must do so many, many, many months in advance. 

Four to be precise. 

Because four is the number of months in advance that four school girlfriends and I had to schedule in a short weekend away together. And even then, we’d had to accept that the sixth member was not going to make it. (She was training for the London marathon, so we magnanimously forgave her.)

We chose the date in January and booked the house in February and suddenly the feted April date was looming — because even when you plan things well in advance they have a habit of coming around just as quickly as if you’d planned it a half day beforehand — and we collectively realised that we didn’t actually know how we were going to get there. 

A few years ago, on a similarly much longed for and planned far in advance girls trip, we’d journeyed up to the Peak District in a yolk-yellow, three door Jeep Wrangler. Despite my initial reservations over the colour I became rather attached to it in a short space of time. And so, I jumped to attention when the chance to borrow a 2023 Jeep Wrangler Overland materialised.

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This time round the colour of the car was what Jeep calls Earl Grey. Or, to me, who doesn’t drink tea, a pale blue-grey, the colour of winter’s sea mist. I can, however, see why they thought Earl Grey was a tad catchier. 

President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower in his jeep in Normandy, 1944

The Wrangler’s roots lie in the Second World War with the production of a mass-produced (more than 600,000 were built to a single, standardised design) four wheel drive, military vehicle — formally called the US Army Truck, informally known as Willys Jeep.  

And Willys Jeep was an incredibly capable and light, off-road utility vehicle, described by President Eisenhower as ‘one of three decisive weapons’ at the Americans’ disposal. It eased reliance on horses and other draft animals, as well as motorbikes and sidecars, and was routinely modified by soldiers in the field to meet the myriad problems thrown at them at any given moment.

Today’s iteration has plenty in common with its predecessor. For a start, it’s light, much lighter than a vehicle of its considerable bulk looks like it should be. Around 2,000kg, or 4,450lb, depending on modifications. To put that into perspective, a Land Rover Defender without all the bells and whistles will still weigh in at 2,300kg. 

A Jeep Wrangler can tow 3,500kg — and keep an erratic terrier in check

Not that this has compromised the car’s abilities. In fact, a Wrangler and Defender can both tow 3,500kg, or 8,200lb. More importantly, it’s easy to steer and manoeuvre and, for a boxy vehicle — which admittedly does little for the aerodynamics — it’s not depressingly fuel inefficient, doing 28-31 miles-per-gallon. (There are other standout models in the wider Jeep family, including the Renegade (32mpg) and Grand Cherokee plug-in hybrid (56mpg-e.)

For the moment, though, let’s place fuel to one side because this is a practical, purpose-built car, designed with adventure in mind, not the school run. Take, for example, its water fording capabilities: with sealed electrical connections and moisture-resistant body openings you can drive the car through puddles, streams, creeks and more, in up to 33.5in of water. Or its ground clearance: available with up to 12.9in space, the car makes easy work of logs and rocks. Just be prepared to have to haul yourself, inelegantly, up and into the driver’s seat. 

A Somerset field, a Devon beach, a Hampshire wood (admittedly, this one wasn’t entirely deliberate, we were lost, on a dog walk). All child’s play for the Earl Grey Wrangler. 

Decades on from their pivotal role in the War, Jeep vehicles are still designed to be modified and tinkered with. There’s a rugged, handmade quality to them — ladder frame chassis with the body bolted on top — which reminds me of the all-consuming lego kits I used to play with, alongside my brother, as a child. 

Swap out the hard top roof for an airy, summertime soft top; replace the seat covers with neoprene fabric to protect against moisture and mud; stick an LED light bar to the top of the windscreen for a premium night-time, off-roading experience. 

Take the roof off entirely — as we did, scrabbling up the sides to undo chunky bolts holding each panel in place — fold down the windscreen or take the doors off. 

In a world full of sleek and boring 4x4s that prioritise style over substance, the Jeep Wrangler stands out as an unstoppable bit of kit that’s not afraid to have fun — and the car world is a better place because of it.

The 2023 Jeep Wrangler is available from £51,125. For more information on it and the 2024 Jeep Wrangler, available now (June 2024) visit