Some say that the iconic Jeep Wrangler, built in Toledo, Ohio, is the ultimate off-road vehicle. The Wrangler is also the king of special editions, including the Willys Wheeler we are reviewing here. But at $6,100 more than the price of a base Jeep Wrangler Sport, is the Willys Wheeler worth the upgrade? Read on to find out.
(Full Disclosure: Jeep dropped off the Wrangler with a full tank of gasoline for a week. I couldn’t find the Torx set that was to help take the roof off that should’ve been included with the car, but a trip to Lowe’s solved that problem. I didn’t care if it was 50° outside, I drove with the roof off. As you do.)
2015 Jeep Wrangler Exterior
All Jeep Wranglers look the same. Yes, I’m sure a die hard Jeep loyalist can tell the difference between the 2015 and 2010 version, and so on, but to the casual observer there isn’t much difference. That is both good and bad. On the plus side, your investment doesn’t look like it ages as quickly, since it’s just like every other one on the road. The downside is nobody can tell it’s new because it looks just like every other one on the road!
The Freedom Top and I shared a love / hate relationship over the week. I love that the three piece design makes it easy to deploy a “Targa mode” without having to take the entire roof off. It just takes a couple of minutes and you’re good to go.
Though, I wish the top pieces fit together more confidently. The seal feels tight; that’s not the problem. It’s just difficult to tell if you have it in the exact right position or not. The last thing I want is the roof panels to fly off the top while driving down the road!
The rest of the roof comes off easy enough, as long as you have the proper tools and at least one other person to help you. I’m sure that over time, taking the roof off becomes second nature to owners, but that first time is a bit jittery. I wish there was some sort of integrated handle on the side to make it easier to lift off. It’s not like it wouldn’t hurt aerodynamics any more than they already are.
Putting the top back on, as long as you have two people, is easy. Little nubs slot in so you know you have it on right.
The rest of the Jeep Wrangler is regular Jeep fare. The Willys Wheeler package, visually, adds stickers on the hood, and the rear, along with the black wheels and black lower trim pieces.
Overall I like the looks, but there is a lot of black going on. I don’t mind looking at it in person, especially with the Billet Silver Metallic paint, but in pictures all the black makes it difficult to notice contrast.
2015 Jeep Wrangler Interior
The interior is functional, and spacious enough for two people in the front. If you want rear-seat room, get the Unlimited version with four doors.
Our review unit came with the base stereo mated to a Pioneer water-resistant nine-speaker stereo. Thankfully, the head unit had Bluetooth and satellite radio, though pairing the phone is a longer process than making a phone call to the International Space Station.
The cloth interior feels like it’ll hold up to abuse well, and the all-weather floor mats are very nice quality. But if you’re looking for the latest in FCA interior design, you’re going to have to wait for the 2018 model.
2015 Jeep Wrangler Performance
Powering the Willys Wheeler is the 3.6L Pentastar V6 that FCA uses in practically everything. In the Wrangler, it makes 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s a great engine, and it’s a great engine in the Wrangler.
But it’s mated to a 5-speed automatic. You can get the Wrangler in a manual transmission in six gears, but the 5-speed feels old, and it doesn’t help for fuel economy.
The Willys Wheeler package adds a Trac-Loc rear differential, 3.73 front and rear axle ratios, performance suspension, and BSW off-road tires. Priced individually, it’s just as expensive to get a Jeep Wrangler Sport with as many as these features as you can, but you still end up without the Trac-Loc.
2015 Jeep Wrangler Fuel Economy
Let’s just say it’s not good and go from there? During our week of testing, we saw around 18 miles per gallon. If you try really, really, really hard, you can get it above 20 and maybe into the 23 range. But you’d have to be Superman to keep it there.
The antiquated automatic transmission combined with a horrible aerodynamic shape contribute to the poor fuel economy. I can’t wait for an 8-speed automatic and (hopefully) the EcoDiesel in the 2018 version.
2015 Jeep Wrangler Final Verdict
I highly doubt many Jeep Wrangler buyers look at reviews before buying. They know that they want a Jeep, and that’s that. Jeep is a hot brand right now, and the Wrangler is a popular vehicle. At a price of $34,425 optioned out, it’s a pretty good deal for what you get and the capability you have.
Jeep says 75% of Wrangler buyers off-road their vehicles. If you’re in the 25% who don’t, a Jeep Renegade or Cherokee (especially in off-road Trailhawk trim) might be a better purchase. But you’re not reading this if you want a Wrangler. You’re already at the dealership buying one. If that’s the case, you really are getting a great vehicle.
- Iconic Jeep looks.
- Extremely off-road capable.
- Jeep community.
- 5-speed automatic transmission.
- Lackluster fuel economy.
- Poor crash test rating from IIHS.