2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Review: Ready For Battle

With an extra pair of doors, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited continues to offer legendary off-roading capability, but with the extra space to pack in even more gear. It's retro styling, comprehensive lineup, and array of off-roading technologies make it as appealing as ever; but the Jeep faces its toughest test following the arrival of the all-new Ford Bronco. It doesn't help that the Jeep feels rather utilitarian on the road and doesn't have the best reliability record. But in the face of accomplished competition, Jeep hasn't been idle. Adding a new Plug-In variant to the range (utilizing the 2.0-liter four-cylinder already familiar to the lineup paired with electric motors) gives you access to 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. Other options include the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 285 hp and 260 lb-ft or a mild-hybrid assisted version of this motor. The 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel with 260 hp and 442 lb-ft remains exclusive to four-door Wranglers.

The Wrangler also gains two special edition models; added off-road gear and some tweaks to the spec sheet are made for the new model year. It remains one of the best off-road vehicles on the planet. Whether these updates are enough to make it the first choice for adventurers is the question that needs to be asked.

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Wrangler Unlimited?

Jeep boldly introduced plug-in hybrid and V8-powered versions of the Wrangler, but the latter is reviewed separately. Most customers will still be looking at the core lineup which, for 2021, receives a couple of updates. Two new special editions - 80th Anniversary and Islander - join the lineup, with each getting unique finishes inside and out. Some special edition trims from last year have fallen away, such as the Black and Tan 4x4 and the North Edition. Off-Road Plus becomes standard on the Rubicon, allowing for throttle and transmission adjustments, while the Selec-Trac two-speed transfer case and 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio is optionally available on the Sport. On the Rubicon, the Rock-Trac 4x4 system is optional. The Wrangler now comes with an available TrailCam forward-facing camera for off-roading. With either the seven- or 8.4-inch touchscreens, Select Tire Fill Alert becomes standard. This feature is also included as part of the Technology Group. Finally, two extra USB charging ports are fitted.

Pros and Cons

  • Unmistakable design
  • One of the best off-roaders
  • Multiple trims and customization options
  • Cool removable doors and roof
  • Simple and fast infotainment system
  • PHEV models available
  • New Ford Bronco is a major threat
  • Plenty of road noise
  • Cargo space falls short of the best
  • Expensive upper trims
  • Few standard driver safety aids

Best Deals on Wrangler Unlimited

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Willys Sport
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$32,570
Willys
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$32,570
Sport
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$32,570
Sport Altitude
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$32,570
Sport S
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$32,570

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Exterior

The Wrangler's ageless shape remains a big part of this rugged SUV's appeal. From the rounded headlamps to the seven-slot grille and the chunky fenders, it looks ready to get its boots dirty. It looks markedly different from trim to trim, though, with the base Sport making do with black fender flares and 17-inch steel wheels, whereas more expensive trims have alloy wheels in a range of finishes and available LED reflector headlamps. On the 80th Anniversary Edition, the Wrangler has commemorative badging and a three-piece hardtop, while the Islander gets 17-inch wheels wrapped in 32-inch tires and a beach-themed exterior. The Rubicon comes with 33-inch all-terrain tires and a disconnecting front sway bar. Various roof options are available, including a three-piece hardtop and a Sunrider soft-top. Depending on the trim, the roof can be finished in black, white, or color-coded to the body.

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Dimensions

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is quite a bit bigger in size than its two-door counterpart, with a body that is longer by over 20 inches. The length is 188.4 inches and the wheelbase measures 118.4 inches. The remaining key dimensions include a width of 73.8 inches and a height of 73.6 inches. Depending on the trim, the maximum approach/breakover/departure angles work out to 43.9/22.6/37 inches, while the Jeep has a ground clearance of up to 10.8 inches on more off-road-focused, lifted variants. However, even less capable versions have a ground clearance of at least 9.7 inches.

Curb weight varies across the range, with base models weighing in at 4,167 pounds, while plug-in variants tip the scales at 5,100 lbs with all the added gadgetry on board.

  • Length 188.4 in
  • Wheelbase 118.4 in
  • Height 73.6 in
  • Max Width 73.8 in
  • Front Width 62.9 in
  • Rear Width 62.9 in

Exterior Colors

  • Hellayella Clearcoat
  • Firecracker Red Clearcoat
  • Sarge Green Clearcoat
  • Snazzberry Pearlcoat
  • Nacho Clearcoat
  • Chief Clearcoat, Build Out: 12/03/2020
  • Hydro Blue Pearlcoat
  • Billet Silver Metallic Clearcoat
  • Black Clearcoat
  • Granite Crystal Metallic Clearcoat
  • Sting-Gray Clearcoat
  • Bright White Clearcoat

Wrangler Unlimited Performance

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Engine and Transmission

Regardless of the engine you choose, four-wheel drive comes as standard on every Wrangler Unlimited. Most Wranglers come standard with the familiar 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated Pentastar V6 engine, which produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. By upgrading to the eight-speed automatic transmission, you'll need to specify the V6 with Jeep's eTorque mild-hybrid system, which helps with executing smoother shifts and improved operation of the stop/start system. Other trims get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, paired exclusively with an eight-speed automatic. 4xe models switch to a plug-in hybrid setup, using the turbo-four and electric motors for total outputs of 375 hp and 470 lb-ft. Finally, the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, which manages 260 hp and a strong 442 lb-ft - this engine is also paired with an eight-speed auto.

The Wrangler is a decent performer, with a V6-engined automatic model able to go from 0-60 mpg in just under seven seconds based on independent tests. New 4xe variants can manage the benchmark sprint to 60 mph in six seconds. Although we are happy to see that Jeep continues to offer a manual gearbox, it's not the slickest transmission around so we'd recommend going for the smooth, quick-shifting automatic instead. While the V6 gas engine is powerful and makes a nice sound, both the turbo-four and the EcoDiesel provide effortless progress lower down with their generous torque outputs. The EcoDiesel sounds quite industrial but makes up for it with excellent passing power.

More average is the Wrangler's towing capacity, which maxes out at 3,500 pounds. This does, however, match what the new Bronco can tow.

  • Engines
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.0L Turbo Diesel, 3.6L Twincharged, 3.6L V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Manual, 8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    4X4

Handling and Driving Impressions

The body-on-frame construction is a Jeep Wrangler hallmark and endows the SUV with superb off-road capability but exposes some flaws in day-to-day driving, which may disappoint anyone used to more pinned-down crossovers. While the ride is reasonably composed, there is an underlying firmness and, when coupled with a susceptibility to crosswinds and plenty of road noise - especially in versions not equipped with the hardtop - it can prove tiring. That being said, the current Wrangler is quieter than previous generations, and, of course, near-silent in electric mode on the 4xe. Mid-corner bumps can throw off the chassis, while the handling via the electro-hydraulic power steering lacks the finesse found in more car-like crossovers. Then again, the powerful engines and smooth automatic gearbox do contribute towards reasonably unruffled progress.

Off-road, the Wrangler shines and remains one of the most accomplished SUVs for sale. It's ridiculously easy to plow through muddy trails and up steep inclines, and this applies even to less hardcore versions of the Wrangler and the PHEV. Excellent approach/departure angles and plenty of ground clearance help the Wrangler effortlessly deal with rough terrain. For the more serious adventure junkies, the Rubicon's heavy-duty front/rear axles, 4:1 low-range gear ratios, and 33-inch tires make it even more capable.

Wrangler Unlimited Gas Mileage

The diesel isn't just the torquiest Wrangler, it's the most economical of the gas-fed variants, as well. According to the EPA, this model can achieve 22/29/25 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. Fuel efficiency is affected by trim, though, as the Rubicon with the same engine slips to figures of 21/26/23 mpg. With the 2.0-liter turbo-four, the Wrangler Unlimited will manage gas mileage of 21/24/22 mpg. The V6 is heaviest on gas, returning 19/24/21 mpg in automatic guise and 17/23/19 mpg with the manual gearbox.

Naturally, the PHEV offers better fuel economy, with a claimed 21-mile range on electric power alone, and 49 MPGe. According to the manufacturer, 4xe models have a total range of around 370 miles (with a 17.2-gallon tank) and can be recharged to full in as little as two hours on a Level 2 charger. Gas models have a 21.5-gallon gas tank, so the standard Wrangler's most efficient model with the EcoDiesel equipped should manage around 537 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    21.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 17/23 mpg
* 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Islander 4WD

Wrangler Unlimited Interior

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Seating and Interior Space

Unlike the two-door Jeep Wrangler, the Wrangler Unlimited can seat three passengers at the back, raising the maximum seating capacity to five. However, shoulder room isn't the best, so three broad-shouldered individuals at the back will feel cramped. The legroom is acceptable rather than expansive. Fortunately, the option to remove the roof frees up unlimited headroom. Likewise, removable doors make getting inside easier, although the Wrangler's high stance does mean that the grab handles are essential. In front are seats that are a bit more comfortable than the firmer rear bench. Cheaper variants come with cloth upholstery, but all models have a six-way adjustable driver's seat with two-way lumbar support. Upper trims have leather-upholstered seats. Interior colors vary by trim, with the High Altitude featuring caramel stitching and the Islander getting blue detailing.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.2 in
  • Front Head Room 42.6 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.3 in
  • Rear Head Room 41.7 in

Wrangler Unlimited Trunk and Cargo Space

The Wrangler Unlimited doesn't have the most space for passengers compared with other SUVs in its class and the same is true for the cargo capacity. With the rear seat in its upright position, there is 31.7 cubic feet of space at the back. With this seat folded, that number balloons to 72.4 cubes, although it's slightly less at 67.4 cubes for plug-in hybrid models. Still, this is more than enough space for daily duties, but the four-door Ford Bronco Soft top offers up to 38.3 cubes behind the second row and 83 cubes when the back seats are folded.

Storage space for smaller items could also be better. The Jeep has a lockable glovebox, but the dashboard is quite close to the front passenger so it isn't easy to access it when there is a passenger occupying the front seat. A full-floor console houses cupholders for front and rear occupants, but instead of substantial door pockets, the Wrangler just gets some netted compartments that aren't quite as useful. The center console storage compartment is deep but not very broad.

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Wrangler Unlimited Infotainment and Features

Features

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited SUV is all about its hardy mechanicals and clever off-roading tech, so it isn't particularly well equipped with the comforts some may expect at the price. The base Sport, for example, has archaic specs like manual windows and door locks, a rarity on any modern car. It does come with air conditioning, a 12-volt power outlet, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, and a tilt/telescoping steering column. A rearview camera, tire-pressure monitoring, trailer-sway control, and hill-start assist are included as well.

Upper trims come with dual-zone automatic climate control, a universal garage door opener, automatic headlamps, power-heated mirrors, and an automatic-dimming rearview mirror. Even the expensive upper trims don't come with heated front seats or a heated steering wheel, both of which are optional. There are loads of other options that can raise the final price you'll pay for a Wrangler Unlimited; these include a one-touch power top, an off-road camera, adaptive cruise control, and remote start.

Infotainment

On cheaper models, the Uconnect 3 infotainment system is rather basic as it only comes with a small five-inch display. The system is easy to use, though, and additionally comes with an audio input jack, a remote USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, and a media hub with two USB ports. An eight-speaker sound system is standard. Moving up to the higher trims will introduce the more comprehensive Uconnect 4 system with a seven-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio.

4xe models, the 80th Anniversary Edition Wrangler Unlimited, and High Altitude models all boast a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen display as part of the upgraded Uconnect 4C NAV system, along with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, navigation, HD Radio, and additional SiriusXM services like Travel Link and Traffic Plus. The sound system here is also switched out for a premium Alpine unit. This top-end infotainment setup can be optioned on at an additional cost, although it's not available to all trims.

Wrangler Unlimited Problems and Reliability

The Jeep Wrangler doesn't have an unblemished reliability record. Recalls affecting 2021 and 2020 models were issued, with only a potentially overheating clutch pressure plate affecting the latest year model. Other problems include a faulty rearview camera image display and a lower control arm that could separate from the axle. Of the complaints logged on the NHTSA's website, the vast majority related to issues with the steering system. The 2019 model was even worse, with five recalls including an alarming issue where the steering wheel could detach from the steering column.

Bearing all of this in mind, we would have welcomed a more comprehensive warranty. As it stands, the 2021 Wrangler Unlimited gets a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Roadside assistance is covered for the first five years or up to a mileage limitation of 60,000 miles. On the plus side, complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for the first three years/36,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    3 Years \ Unlimited Miles

Wrangler Unlimited Safety

There's no comprehensive safety review for the Wrangler Unlimited from the NHTSA, with safety ratings only given for frontal crash and rollover tests. The four-door Wrangler scored four out of five, and three out of five in these evaluations, respectively. Over at the IIHS, the 2021 Wrangler was given four top scores of Good, and one of Marginal for the small overlap front driver-side test.

In prior Jeep Wrangler Unlimited reviews, we've noted the lack of standard safety gear and that hasn't changed in 2021. For instance, you'll have to pay extra for blind-spot monitoring, cross-path detection, forward collision warning, rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control. All models come fitted with a rearview camera, tire-pressure monitoring, electronic roll mitigation, hill-start assist, and electronic stability control. Only four airbags - dual front and front side - are equipped.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited a good car?

It's difficult to talk about the Jeep Wrangler without mentioning the not-so-subtle elephant in the room that is the Ford Bronco. Both cater to almost exactly the same kind of buyer and, while the Bronco has a slightly higher starting price, it is a brand new product whereas the Jeep has begun to show its age in some aspects. For instance, it is severely lacking in terms of standard safety tech and the interior will feel too basic for some customers for daily use. That said, the Wrangler Unlimited is still a massively capable off-road SUV. Its ability to make the driver feel like a hero over harsh terrain remains astonishing, and while some will find its back-to-basics nature out of touch with the latest SUVs, others will love it for exactly the same reason. The Jeep's variety of power plants all offer enough power for the task at hand and the broad lineup now has something to suit everyone, even the eco-conscious. Although the Bronco will undoubtedly steal sales from it, the Wrangler still has lots of heart and ability.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited?

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited begins at $32,400 for the no-frills Sport. It's followed by the Willys Sport at $34,400, the Sport S at $35,600, the Islander at $37,295, the Sport Altitude at $37,595, the RHD at $38,925, and the Sahara with a starting price of $39,250. The Willys version costs $38,395, and the Freedom costs just a tad more, at $38,795.

One of the new additions for the 2021 model year is the 80th Anniversary variant with an MSRP of $38,595. The highly capable Rubicon costs $42,800, while the Sahara Altitude is priced at $42,845. Finally, the High Altitude tops the range at $48,655. The PHEV variants start with the Sahara 4xe at $49,805, followed by the Rubicon 4xe at a price of $53,505. The High Altitude in 4xe spec costs $55,380. All these prices represent the trims in their least expensive guise, without any options, and excluding a destination charge of $1,495. Pricing also excludes tax, licensing, and registration costs.

Various engine upgrades are available for the gas-fed models. For instance, the base Sport can be upgraded from the regular V6 to the V6 with eTorque for $1,750, but this requires going for the eight-speed automatic as well which adds another $1,500. The EcoDiesel engine requires a more substantial outlay of $4,500, plus the $1,500 for the auto gearbox. Upgrading from the standard V6 to the 2.0-liter turbo-four only requires $1,500 for the auto gearbox, as this engine isn't compatible with the manual. A fully loaded High Altitude with the EcoDiesel engine and all the extras will cost nearly $62,000 including the destination charge.

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited price can be dramatically inflated with a range of optional upgrades. On the base Sport, the Trailer-Tow and Heavy-Duty Electric Group costs $795 and adds a seven- and four-pin wiring harness, a class II hitch receiver, and a 700-amp battery. Perforated black leather Mopar seats at $1,750 and an anti-spin rear axle differential at $595 are some individual options. Higher up in the range, there is even more customization on offer. For instance, the Sahara can be upgraded with the Advanced Safety Group ($795) with forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and more. The 8.4-inch Radio and Premium Audio Group ($1,895) includes a bigger 8.4-inch touchscreen and an Alpine premium sound system.

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Models

See All 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Trims and Specs

🚗What New Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Model Should I Buy?

With a price range spanning from $33k to north of $56k, three engine choices, multiple trim levels, and varying degrees of off-road capability, whatever new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited you choose depends both on your specific needs and budget. And, while the idea behind a plug-in hybrid Jeep is certainly commendable, it's far less useful in reality, with only a 21-mile all-electric range and limited low-down torque.

While the traditional Rubicon is a pricier proposition, it's the best Jeep Wrangler Unlimited for demanding off-road excursions. If your off-roading needs aren't that extreme, the well-equipped 80th Anniversary model with the top infotainment system in the lineup will save you some cash over the Rubicon while remaining capable and adding a level of exclusivity to the mix. As we mentioned last year, the EcoDiesel engine and the Sky One-Touch roof are two of the most desirable upgrades, but they do increase the price quite significantly.

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Comparisons

Jeep Wrangler Jeep
Toyota 4Runner Toyota
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited285 hp17/23 mpg$32,570
Jeep Wrangler 285 hp17/25 mpg$29,070
Toyota 4Runner 270 hp16/19 mpg$36,765

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited vs Jeep Wrangler

The smaller, two-door Jeep Wrangler maintains the rugged off-road abilities of the Unlimited but is better suited to single people or perhaps couples without the need to carry extra passengers or cargo. With a starting price of $28,900, the two-door Wrangler undercuts the equivalent Wrangler Unlimited by $3,500. For this saving, the two-door Wrangler can only seat four occupants (three at the back is a big ask) and has just 12.9 cubic feet of trunk space behind the back seats, falling far short of the Unlimited's 31.7 cubes. There are other significant advantages in the Unlimited's favor. While the two-door also offers the V6 and turbo-four engine options, only the Unlimited has access to the excellent EcoDiesel. The shorter wheelbase of the Wrangler also has a negative effect on its driving dynamics. Most of the upper trims, such as the Sahara and Sahara Altitude, are only compatible with the Unlimited. Despite its higher price, the Wrangler Unlimited is our choice.

See Jeep Wrangler Review

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited vs Toyota 4Runner

The enduring Toyota 4Runner, just like the Wrangler Unlimited, is a rugged off-road SUV that makes no apologies for the fact that it isn't the most comfortable or agile tool for navigating cramped city streets. The 4Runner begins at $36,765, so it's a bit pricier than the cheapest versions of the Wrangler. For 2021, Toyota has made a few changes to the tough TRD Pro model which gets revised 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks. Although the Wrangler is quicker, the 4Runner's V6 allows it to tow 5,000 pounds, which is 1,500 lbs up on the Jeep's figure. However, the Wrangler Unlimited has superior approach/departure angles and over an inch of added ground clearance, so it has the edge when the going gets tough. Parents will be happier with the Toyota, which is much better equipped with standard safety technologies that are only optional on the Jeep. We'd go with the 4Runner if a combination of daily commutes and occasional weekend adventures is the brief, but the Wrangler Unlimited if off-roading is a priority.

See Toyota 4Runner Review

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Popular Comparisons

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