1999 Jeep Wrangler Review
The king of off-road vehicles.
We drove our Wrangler Sport through the Arizona mountains north of Phoenix. Spring runoff had carved deep gullies in the muddy trail as we slogged past Buckhorn Canyon toward Fort Misery. The primitive road wasn't even on our map of Arizona, and for good reason. A car simply would not have made it up the muddy, rutted hill climbs. A big four-wheel drive sport-utility might have gotten through, but not as easily as the Wrangler.
Yet, when we left the trail and turned onto Interstate 17, heading south toward Phoenix, we were grateful for its smooth, comfortable ride quality. That's the essence of the newest generation Wrangler. It provides the ultimate in off-road capability without punishing its occupants on the long road back to civilization. It's the right choice for perilous off-road treks like California's Rubicon Trail. But it's also fun for cruising around the neighborhood. And it makes a statement about your lifestyle--or at least what you'd like your lifestyle to be.
The new Wrangler isn't a luxury car, but isn't the penalty box it used to be. Paved roads seem much smoother. Corners are handled with more dignity. It feels stable at 80 mph. And wet pavement is not to be feared. At the same time, the Wrangler's off-road capability is superior to that of even the legendary Jeep CJ. It's an impressive balancing act.
Wrangler's engineers achieved this balance by replacing Jeep's 50-year-old leaf-spring suspension with a coil-spring suspension. They mounted it onto a rigid new chassis that provides a stable platform for the suspension to do its job. Coil springs provide better handling on and off road and enormous suspension travel. Wrangler's Quadra-Coil suspension boasts an additional seven inches of articulation over the old leaf spring suspension.
Greater approach and departure angles mean the Wrangler can cross trenches and clamber over rocks and fallen trees that would trap the old Jeep. Few vehicles can match the Wrangler's rock-climbing ability. At the same time, it does not feel like a utility truck when winding down a curvy road.
Still, the Wrangler is no sports car. Its handling is competent, but the basic design is essentially truck, with a high center of gravity. Hurrying this or any sport-utility vehicle around tight corners is not a good plan.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 1999 Jeep Wrangler, click here: 1999 Jeep Wrangler.