Since my Junior year in high school I have driven a 1999 Jeep Wrangler as my one and only car. From 8+ hour road trips, daily commutes of at least 18 miles, and just driving around the city, I’ve done it all in my Wrangler.
Are Jeep Wranglers good daily drivers? Yes, the Wrangler is a great daily driver. Jeep Wranglers reliably get you where you need to go and can provide a fun time while you’re doing it. The modern Wrangler offers the necessary amenities and fuel-efficient technology to the daily commuter while proving capable of getting you anywhere.
Even though I have found my Jeep Wrangler extremely enjoyable and reliable, there are always downsides to a vehicle like a Wrangler for a daily driver. Its safe to say, for reasons discussed below, that Wranglers are an acquired taste.
The Downsides to Daily Driving a Wrangler
To be forward, this article will be mostly my personal experience. As I have daily driven an older Jeep Wrangler for over ten years, I find myself qualified to offer a factual opinion and solid explanation to the pros and cons of doing so.
To not appear biased I’ll start with the negatives. First of which is road noise. If you are looking for quiet ride where you can tune out the world and just glide on your way to work, Wrangler is not going to give that to you.
I have always had a soft top, which has led to countless trips of feeling more like driving a sail boat as the wind blows over, around, and into the soft top. This makes it one, hard to steer but also impossible to listen to the radio at a low volume or talk without yelling.
Since I live in West and North Texas, wind is in no shortage and it has become part of daily life to just deal with it.
On top of dealing with wind, the ride in a Wrangler doesn’t offer any solace on your commute. In a Wrangler you will feel everything in the road. You expect this of course, and newer Wranglers are better than old ones here, but it’s something you don’t quite believe till you drive it.
You never realize how other cars make seamless effort of a poorly paved road till you hop in a Wrangler and take the same route.
While your driving down this road, don’t expect your friends to understand as there is no room for them in the car. It’s not a huge deal, but space is an issue. Because of where I work, many people car pool. In order to join you usually at some point have to be the one driving.
Let me tell you now, no one will have a happy look on their face when you pull up in a two door Wrangler ready to begin the 30 mile trek to work. Granted four door Jeeps are better but they still aren’t great.
Even out side of work, unless you have the roof off and people can just hop over the sides to head to the beach, not many people enjoy climbing into the back of a Jeep Wrangler (two door of course).
Last on my list of complaints is fuel economy. Jeep enthusiasts have a saying that it is all about “smiles per gallon” not miles per gallon. And thats something you just have to accept.
You are essentially driving a box and in some cases a box with cloth sail for a roof. If you decide to drive a Wrangler, its best you just prepare yourself that you won’t get great gas mileage and there really isn’t much you can do about it.
On top of that, if you find yourself in a pre 2000 year Wrangler, like myself, just throw the idea of saving gas with cruise control, because you won’t have it.
I won’t get into Wrangler safety here. However, if thats something you are concerned about I encourage you to check out my article Are Jeeps Wranglers Good Family Cars? and get the low down on safety there.
In all honestly, these are the few complaints I can find when driving a Wrangler as a daily car. Although they have made a ton of forward progress in this area, Jeep did not design the Wrangler for primary highway use.
The Upsides to Daily Driving a Wrangler
With the right attitude, daily driving a Wrangler can be a great experience. After taking into consideration the things mentioned above and coming to peace with them, your Wrangler can offer you a lot.
I always feel safe in my Wrangler. Despite their not so great safety ratings, when I climb into my Jeep in the morning, I feel like I am getting into a well built machine I can trust won’t just fall apart on the road.
I have confidence in the rain, snow, mud and whatever else I may encounter. When I pass or get passed on the highway, I don’t feel like I a tiny car that could get thrown off the road from a draft off the other vehicle.
The Wrangler gives you confidence that you can get where you are going every time.
Despite having 185,000 miles, I know that if I have done my part, when I get the car, my Wrangler will crank and start no problem. Never once have I been worried about getting stranded due to an unreliable car.
Another benefit to driving a Wrangler daily (or at least two door versions) is that you are small without looking small. You don’t need tons of room to get in and out of traffic but you also don’t look like a smart car just weaving around everywhere.
When there is a tight fit or small parking space, there is a good chance you can fit in it without any complications.
And as corny as it sounds, there is just something about driving a Wrangler that makes it all worth it. You feel part of a family as you get waves from complete strangers. You walk out and see your car in the lot after work and actually look forward to driving.
When it comes down to it, I believe any car can be a good daily driver if you enjoy the ride itself. From an economy point of view, no the Wrangler doesn’t mathematically make the best choice. But I know I’ve loved my experience and always will.
How to Improve Your Wrangler Daily Commute
There are a few things to over come the issues laid out in the first section of this article.
To start with, one way to cut down on road noise is to place some pillows in key spots. I know its not fashionably desirable but it does work.
In a soft top, put some small pillows above the sound bar and against the plastic in the back windows. This will dampen the road noise and keep the top from blowing the wind.
On a hard top you can place some adhesive carpet material to the top panels to help out.
Next thing I would suggest is to invest some quality speaker upgrades. With some good two or three speakers and tweeters for voice enhancement, your ride to work can be worlds better. Because lets face it, the stock sound options just aren’t cutting it.
Lastly, to help with fuel economy, you can consider a tune to your Wranglers engine. This won’t do much and really may not be worth the money. However, it is one of the few options that might make a difference.
Beyond that, don’t fall into all the hypes of gas saving mods, just be easy on the gas pedal and you’ll see a great improvement. The difference in driving 65 vs 75 mph makes a world of difference in fuel economy.
Is there a four cylinder Jeep Wrangler? Yes, older models of the Jeep Wrangler have the option of a four cylinder engine. While newer models are standard with a 6 cylinder, you can expect a 4 cylinder diesel around 2020.
Are hard top roofs quieter than soft top? Yes, a hard top roof tends to be a more sound dampening option than a soft top. Because a soft top is a canvas cloth, it is more susceptible to the effects of wind on the road.
Are Jeep Wranglers fast? Without doing entire engine swap, Wranglers have never been known for their speed. If you are looking for a Jeep with more speed capabilities, consider a Jeep Grand Cherokee.