By Mike Torpey on 2021-06-20 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Jeep Wrangler 2.0
THE world may be awash with 4x4 models, but it is as well to remember where they came from in the first place.
It's exactly 80 years since the Willys MB, commonly known as the Willys Jeep, became the main transport vehicle of the US military. It was also the world's first mass-produced 4x4.
Of course constant innovation has seen the Jeep legend evolve - with comfort, connectivity and handling now as much a part of the package as off-road ability.
And while Jeep models now come in different shapes and sizes, the one that can instantly be recognised as of classic design is the Wrangler.
Now into its fourth generation, this is a hardcore mean machine that makes jagged boulders feel like pebbles yet can convey its passengers in leather-clad luxury with the latest technology to boot.
That's not all, because in this year of anniversary celebrations Jeep finds itself presented with a great opportunity to win over more fans.
Its only real - and long-standing - rival, the Land Rover Defender, has moved into a new, more lifestyle, category.
So the closest anything gets to the Wrangler is Suzuki's very capable little Jimny model, and that can't cope with the terrain the Jeep gobbles up for breakfast.
The Wrangler line-up consists of Overland, Rubicon and Sahara models with long or short wheelbase, auto transmission and petrol or diesel engines, though an electric variant is imminent.
Our version was the two-door, 2.0-litre Overland petrol, a real head-turner with its seven-slot front grille, Sting-Gray Clear Coat paint, black Mckinley leather bucket seats and 18-inch machine faced aluminium wheels.
It also featured useful touches like ambient LED interior lighting, deep tint sunscreen glass, lit front cupholders, blind spot protection and a rear park assist set-up.
You also get a rear folding seat in two-door models and this car has a removable three-panel hard roof called the Freedom Top.
As for hardware, two four-wheel drive systems are available - Command-Trac on the Sahara and Overland trim and Rock-Trac for the Rubicon - and operate in four driving modes engaged depending on the prevailing conditions.
There's little the Wrangler can't deal with and we were fortunate enough to have access to some farm tracks and forestry, in parts still waterlogged from a persistent early spring deluge.
These conditions are child's play to the Jeep, barely even bringing its abilities into play.
Back on the road the Wrangler underlined that it's not just a vehicle for the rough stuff - proving smooth, solid and lively to drive.
That said, it's thirsty, returning only 26.5 miles per gallon - actually slightly better than the official Combined figure - there's precious little space in the boot and there's no room for the driver's left foot, an upshot of Americans configuring cars for left-hand drive.
Jeep Wrangler 2.0 Overland
Mechanical:272ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
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