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The first Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was clearly a low-budget effort, based on work done for the Egyptian military; but sales were impressive enough to bring about a much more complete 2007-2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. The new, longer Jeep had more cargo space than the Hummer H3, Toyota FJ Cruiser, or Nissan Xterra (46 cubic feet), with a comfortable 37 inches of rear legroom.
To make up for off-road goodness defeated by the extra length, Jeep brought out improved axles, transfer cases, and lockers, and a disconnecting front sway bar; the frame was twice as stiff as the original Unlimited’s frame. The stability control system was tuned for off-roading, and included roll mitigation for the top-heavy vehicle; buyers could also opt for seat-mounted airbags. There was a rear wheel drive version at launch, but this was later dropped.
Buyers liked what they saw; from 2007 to 2010, the company sold 392,464 Jeep Wranglers within the US, along with 62,580 outside North America, 35,412 in Canada, and 8,529 in Mexico. The four-door version turned out to be more popular than the standby two-door, and helped to strain the capacity of the Wrangler plant in Toledo, Ohio.
Jeep marketers proclaimed that the 2007 Wrangler Unlimited was the first “traditional Jeep” to have room for five adult passengers, calling it the only four-door convertible on the market. The wheelbase was 20.6 inches longer than the standard 2007 Wrangler’s 95.4 inches — nearly 20% larger. That meant they could have three positions, add to hip, leg, and shoulder room, and nearly triple the rear cargo space.
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and standard Wrangler shared a same five-link solid-axle suspension configuration, removable full-framed or half doors, exposed hinges, fold-down windshield, and removable and convertible tops. At launch, there were three models (X, Sahara, and Rubicon), with a dazzling number of top, door, and windshield combinations, in nine colors and with 16-inch, 17-inch, and 18-inch wheels sold.
All four doors on the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited were conventional front-hinged types, with inside and outside handles, and windows that traveled all the way down. The rear doors had exposed forged hinges, and opened to 90°; rear seat passengers had 37.2 inches of legroom. For carrying cargo, owners could fold the rear seats flat (they had a 60/40 split in case one or two people had to stay in back), for 83 cubic feet of total storage volume — versus 46.4 when the seats were up. There was also a lockable underfloor storage area.
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited shared the two-door’s dashboard, center stack, and high-back front bucket seats. There was also more space up front than in the 2006: 5.1 inches more shoulder room and 4.6 inches more hip room.
The new “Freedom Top”™ was a hardtop with three removable panels for open-air driving. The front passenger panels could be stored inside the vehicle. The company claimed the entire top could come off in under 30 seconds, though that would require practice and skill. The “Sunrider” soft top was standard; it had a “sun roof” feature as well as the full top-down option (the “sun roof” let owners fold the top back completely over the first- and second-row occupants, creating a 55x60-inch sun roof opening).
Off-road clearances were not quite as good as the two-door, but were aided by short front and rear overhangs, and were still best in class:
The optional disconnecting front stabilizer bar increased wheel travel by 28%. 4x4 Wrangler Unlimiteds had an “enhanced” Dana 30 front axle and a Dana 44 rear axle, each with larger pinion shafts, pinion bearings, and axle joints than the 2006s. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon used heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles, which also featured larger pinion shafts, pinion bearings, and axle joints.
The transfer case on Unlimited X and Sahara was the second-generation Command-Trac® New Venture NV241 setup: a part-time, two-speed unit with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. An optional Trac-Lok® limited-slip rear differential provided extra torque and grip during low-traction situations. Rubicons had the “Rock-Trac” version of the NV241 (NV241OR), with a 4.0:1 low gear ratio; they also had electric front- and rear-axle lockers, the disconnecting sway bar, and 32-inch B.F. Goodrich Off-road tires.
All the 4x4s had skid plates protecting the fuel tank, transfer case, and (where applicable) the automatic transmission oil pan; rear-wheel-drive versions had a single skid plate to protect the fuel tank.
The 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited’s ride and handling were improved by its longer wheelbase, stiffer frame, 50% stiffer body, and new steering and suspension geometry; in addition, new sound-deadening techniques reduced cabin noise by more than 20%.
Body lean was reduced by using retuned upper and lower control arms with full-width forged-steel track bars; the improved body and suspension allowed engineers to reduce suspension spring rates, for a softer on-road ride.
The X used low-pressure twin-tube shock absorbers tuned to match softer coil rates. The Sahara and Rubicon used high-pressure monotube shocks, with Low Speed Tunable (LST) valve technology. All had stability control with three modes— normal, partial, and off.
The 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited’s revised recirculating-ball steering had a robust cross-car steering linkage system, providing the stiffest possible steering linkage in a solid-axle vehicle. A decreased scrub radius reduced steering wheel inputs, such as bump steer from uneven road surfaces.
Jeepers decried one major change to the Wrangler: the loss of the last of the AMC engines, the late, great 4.0 liter straight-six. This motor was good for low-end torque and durability, and many in the Jeep community immediately disliked its replacement, “sight unseen” — the Chrysler 3.8 liter V6, as used in minivans, pushing out 202 horsepower and 237 pound feet of torque. On the lighter side, the engine was rated at greater horsepower and torque than its predecessor, yet delivered better fuel economy. It was hooked up to a six-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic.
Our on-road experience was positive: we had power to spare, and coming off a loaner Hummer H3 (which had the same gas mileage), that was a relief. The (pre-Alpha) Hummer couldn’t make it up long hills without drifting below the speed limit, even with a manual transmission shifted to get peak torque. This was, we believe, the only time you could ever get a 3.8 with a manual transmission, which greatly added to the feel of the vehicle.
The towing capacity was rated at 3,500 pounds; an optional towing package included a 4.10 axle ratio, class III trailer hitch, and two front tow hooks. In many markets outside North America, buyers could get a VM four-cylinder diesel engine, with a five-speed manual transmission.
Aside from color changes, the main alterations for 2009 were switching right-hand-drive postal-unit models from two doors to four doors; making hill-start assist standard across the board; and including trailer sway control with the Trailer Tow Group. There may also have been a larger sun visor, another bin for the full center console, new storage nets, and a center dome lamp with switched directional lighting.
The 2010 Jeep Wranger gained standard tow hooks, fog lamps, full-length center console, front floor mats, and premium cloth trim with front seatback map pockets. The Sahara and Rubicon could be ordered with leather-faced trim. Metallic Green, Orange Pearl, Detonator Yellow were replaced by Surf Blue Pearl, Dark Charcoal Pearl, and Natural Green Pearl. Buyers could opt for Islander or Mountain appearance packages.
The 2011 Wranglers gained an “all new interior” with many option and package changes. Non-Rubicon Wrangler 4x4s went to a corporate 8.25” axle in back.
Several Jeep concept vehicles – the 1997 Jeep Dakar, 2004 Jeep Rescue and 2005 Jeep Gladiator – had explored added space and utility. The goal was to be upright and rugged, and imposing without being intimidating. The interior drew from the exterior, with gray and khaki colors and new grain patterns delivering a “technical appearance with geometric themes.”
Tweeter speakers were on top of the instrument panel, facing opposing occupants, for optimal left- and right-channel clarity. An optional 368-watt Alpine stereo with navigation was on top of the center stack for better visibility. Radios used an auxiliary jack for portable MP3 compatibility. The navigation system allowed for virtual breadcrumb trails so drivers could retrace their route.
In addition to stability control and other items mentioned earlier, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited had multi-stage airbags, brake assist (when panic braking was detected, the system helped engage the brakes, seat belt pretensioners to avoid injury in a crash, a weight-sensing passenger seat to deactivate the airbag as needed, and optional seat-mounted side airbags.
The 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was sold in more than 100 countries throughout the world, in both left- and right-hand-drive models.
Synchronized in all forward gears and reverse, multi-rail shift system with top-mounted shift lever and hydraulic actuation clutch. All but Rubicon used a standard 3.21:1 axle ratio with an optional 4.10; Rubicon had a standard 4.10 axle ratio. The overall top gear was 2.69 standard, 3.44 optional/Rubicon.
Electronically controlled converter clutch transmission with variable line pressure (details)
Weight is given for manual transmission versions; add 25 pounds for the automatic.
Related Jeep Wrangler pages
Inside the Wrangler
Variants and related...
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL: suspension • aluminum vs steel • open or fixed roof • pickup
body engineering • weight, strength, and safety • transmissions • engines
Chrysler 1904-2018 •
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