2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4x4

May 5, 2009
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 is a mouthful of a moniker for a vehicle that prides itself on keeping things simple.
2009 Jeep Wrangler
Chevrolet Equinox LT2
72.4 in.
69.3 in.
73.9 in.
71.4 in.
184.4 in.
188 in.
116 in.
112.5 in.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 is a mouthful of a moniker for a vehicle that prides itself on keeping things simple. The Wrangler competes with other midsize SUVs like the Ford Explorer and Chevy Equinox, but it’s the only one that is truly a convertible 4WD vehicle.

The 2009 Wrangler is a carryover from 2008, and Jeep has done its best to retain the vehicle’s heritage of rugged, off-road fun and utility while adding amenities and safety features. The most obvious departures from the classic Wrangler are four-door, five-person seating and full metal doors.

We were not able to take our tester off-road, but every aspect of the vehicle is geared for that, even the, well, gearing. A six-speed manual transmission translates to a lot of low-speed power in first and second gears. The first-gear ratio, 4.46, is over 25% higher than those of the Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango.

The engine delivers 237 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. A 3.21 axle ratio drives the Dana 44 rear axle. Adding the towing package bumps the ratio up to 3.73. For 2008, the axle got a stiffer, stronger housing, and larger gears.

The vehicle’s 10-in. ground clearance makes powering over obstacles easy, and skid plates protect the transmission and fuel tank. Live-axle, coilspring, gas-shock suspensions at the front and rear let occupants feel the terrain without being rattled to death.

Users can shift between high-range 4WD and rear-wheel drive at up to 55 mph. Shifting into low-range 4WD engages a set of amplifier gears for a 2.72 transfer-case ratio. Setting the differential to neutral electronically disconnects the driveshafts and lets users tow the Jeep.

Rounding out the Wrangler’s off-roading capabilities are four disc brakes. Our tester came with 18-in.-diameter, 7.5-in.-wide aluminum wheels, plus a full-size spare. Four-wheel ABS and traction control are standard. Users can open the 55 × 60-in. sunroof in the Wrangler’s signature softtop or take the top off completely. Our tester’s dual-top package included a three-piece fiberglass hardtop which can be removed by two people.

The sequential multipoint fuel injection and a sixth gear help boost the 2008/2009 model’s fuel efficiency to an EPA-estimate 19-mpg highway and 15-mpg city.

Our model came with a navigation system, Sirius satellite and AM/FM radio, an in-dash CD player, and a USB port. An onboard hard drive permits file navigation via the large central touchscreen.

Power windows and locks are standard, but seat, steering wheel, and mirror adjustment are manual.

A flat-folding rear seat with a 60/40 split gives drivers up to 82 ft3 of cargo space. With the rear seats up, cargo room drops to 46.4 ft3.

The Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4’s base price is $28,320. Our tester’s dual-top package ($1,585) and infotainment system ($1,275 ) bumped the price up to $32,200 after destination charges.

Jessica Shapiro

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