Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Dragon.
Subtle is not normally the first word that springs to mind when describing the Jeep Wrangler.
Adding a giant dragon decal and plenty of gold highlights doesn’t help the big Jeep fly under the radar. This is a vehicle that really commands attention and thus may not be everybody’s cup of tea.
The Wrangler range is priced from $32,500 and there are both two and four door variants available, along with a choice of 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel and 3.6 litre V6 petrol engines. Both engines can be bolted to either a six-speed manual or five-speed auto transmission.
The Jeep Wrangler Dragon is four-door only and is offered with the V6 and auto gearbox and prices start at $47,000.
On the road the V6 engine does a more than reasonable job of moving it along. With 209kW and 347Nm you get a good mix of acceleration and low-down grunt to tackle the hills.
The five-speed auto helps bring the power on smoothly. Fuel economy is only reasonable though, I averaged just over 13L/100kms in city driving, while the official combined fuel consumption figure is 11.7L/100kms.
Beyond that the Wrangler provides a reasonably comfortable ride, though it doesn’t really like corners too much, also quite vague steering finds the big Jeep wandering around its lane a fair bit and needing almost constant correction.
Inside the cabin there is no mistaking that this is a Dragon-themed vehicle – there are dragons on the instruments, the grab handle, on the leather seats, just about everywhere!
Getting into the cabin of the Wrangler though isn’t as easy as most other SUV’s. With a high sill panel, low roof thanks to the structural ‘role cage’ and quite narrow access, getting in and out (especially in the back) is a bit of an assignment.
In fact while climbing into the back the body mounted door latch came in contact with my back and side, ouch!
Legroom is only OK in the back and nothing to write home about in the rear either.
Highlights inside the cabin though include nicely designed gauges, comfortable seats, generously sized glove-box and simple air-conditioning controls.
The infotainment screen is relatively easy to use and features satellite navigation but not a reversing camera and no matter what I tried the Bluetooth system had no interest in synching with my phone.
Visibility from the driver’s seat could only be described as average, chunky A pillars do tend to block a fair bit of front and side visibility and large wing-mirrors don’t help, though they do a good job of letting you see to the rear sides.
The rear cargo area is well-sized though and the spilt rear tail-gate is a good design. Of course you can remove the roof from the Wrangler and you get a canvas roof to carry with you while you are topless and this is mounted in the rear.
The Wrangler doesn’t have an ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up – the Jeep Wrangler Dragon is rugged and simple and for those who love the model it would be an attractive offering.
For the rest of us though there are mountains of more practical, efficient, comfortable and easy to live with SUV offerings on the market!
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 3.6 litre V6 developing 209kW and 347Nm
Transmission: Five-speed auto
Safety: Not tested
Origin: United States
Price: From $47,000