Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2008 – Dog Car For The Off-Roading Outdoorsmen

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I was filled with excitement as we strolled on over to the Chrysler Jeep dealership. I targeted the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2008 as one of the front runners for my perfect dog car. Many of you may not know, but beginning with the 2007 models Jeep added the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited which is a 4 door version of the venerable Jeep Wrangler. I’ve always loved the classic styling of the Jeep Wrangler, but the 2 door off-roading vehicle just seemed a tad bit too small for my liking. However, the four door just might be the perfect dog car.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2008I must say our salesperson at Chrysler Jeep was excellent and new every aspect of this car. There’s an optional hardtop (yep with the top down this baby is a convertible). All four doors are removable and the front windshield folds down (take a look at the picture at the bottom of the page for windshield down look). The interior carpet is removable with drainage holes on the bottom floors allow you to hose out the inside of the vehicle.

I happen to think that this one of the best looking SUV’s on the market. Of course that’s just personal opinion. A couple great things I did notice about this vehicle are:

  • The style of the Wrangler almost never changes. If you compare this car to the same car made 20 years ago the style is very similar. I’m not sure you can say that about any other car/SUV.
  • It’s the only convertible SUV (maybe on the market) on my test list.
  • The rugged interior and drainage holes really suit an outdoor lifestyle and in my situation dog friendly lifestyle.
  • Historically the Jeep Wrangler has a great resale value.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritt details on this SUV!

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2008 Specifications

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS
type4 Door mid-SUV
msrp$20,580
transmissionautomatic/manual
gas mileage16mpg/21mpg
horsepower202hp @5000RPM
standard engine3.8L V6
seating5 passengers

Does It Stack Up? Dog And Human Criteria Lists

Criteria for the dogs:

  • Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2008 Cargo SpaceSeats that fold flat or easily removable – hopefully fits a crate or two Once again I did not bring a tape measure or crate to test the backseat of the car. I did notice that the seats did not fold totally flat, but cargo space with the seats down appeared to be adequate (before purchasing I will re-evaluate and bring my crates for a full test of the back seat on this vehicle).
  • Plenty of usable cargo space relative to the size of the vehicle with wide, square backs, and little rear slope to make most of cargo area. If you take a look at the picture of this vehicle with the hardtop it almost defines the meaning of a square back. Needless to say there is a lot of cargo space in this vehicle for a mid-size SUV.
  • Dog friendly interior – Even the best dog can have accidents in the car. – I already knew this car was built for the outdoors, but before I took it for a test drive I noticed cloth carpets in all the pictures (I preferred the plastic floors you see in the Honda Element and Toyota FJ Cruiser). Fortunately the carpet interior is very easy to remove and there are drainage holes in the floor for hosing out the interior if needed. Our salesperson also mentioned that the Sahara model came with water resistant seats. We test drove the Unlimited X 4X4 with base model seats which also appeared to be very durable.
  • Door & window locks – Dogs are smart and some can open a car door. Door and window locks are an option on the Wrangler. I believe the hardcore Wrangler followers prefer the non-mechanical workings of manual windows and manual door locks.
  • All-wheel or four-wheel drive and high ground clearance – for camping or going to the mountains with your best friend (I’m talking about your dog of course). – You can opt for either the 4X2 or the 4X4

Criteria for the humans:Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2008 With HardTop

  • Price Range: Under 30K One of the better values out of the cars on my list. The base model 4X2 comes in just under 21K, but you can go all out and get the Rubicon which will run you over 30K. Again, like the FJ Cruiser I’d probably find middle ground opting for some, but not all the options.
  • Curb Appeal – Hopefully the car is not hard on the eyes. – Okay, so out of all the vehicles on my list I think this one has the most curb appeal. Not everyone will like it’s look, but I give it a 10!
  • Fuel Economy -Unfortunately SUV’s get worse gas mileage. – 16/21 mpg’s for the 4X2 and probably slightly worse for the 4X4. This is a couple mpg’s better than the FJ Cruiser, but still when looking at SUV’s unless it’s a hybrid gas mileage is going to suffer.
  • Reliability – If you’re car is not working what good is it? This is the sore spot for the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. While I’ve heard glowing reviews from friends who own jeep wranglers I’ve also come across several comments on the internet to the opposite. Unfortunately, Jeep does not have the best reputation for reliability. To make things worse I took a look at the consumer reports review of the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and it got below average reviews for reliability.
  • Retains Value – Cars are terrible investments, but we want it to retain some of it’s value. – I was pleasantly surprised in this category. The Jeep Wrangler ranks relatively high when it comes to resale often times appearing inside the top 10 of some lists. Check out the Vehix.com website.
  • Extras – Any miscellaneous extra goodies the car may have. – Removable doors, fold down front windshield, removable carpets, drainage holes in the floors, and a convertible.
  • Car in the City – Smooth ride? Does it have power? Handle Well? – This SUV is renowned for it’s off-road talents, but also has a reputation as a rough ride in the city. I came in with these expectations, but was again surprised by the way this vehicle handled in the city. I drove the automatic version of the car which felt a little under-powered, but I thought it was adequate. There was very little noise with the soft top up. While it didn’t feel as nice and smooth as some of the other SUV’s I felt like it was just smooth enough and just rugged enough for my liking. The soccer mom may not enjoy this car because of it’s less than luxurious ride and the outdoor enthusiast may think that Chrysler Jeep refined the car to much for their liking. However, as my dog car I thought it was just right.

Yahoo! Autos

Advantages – The Things I Like

The things I like about this vehicle are:

  • Great looks.
  • Low Price – Just under 21K.
  • Durable Interior.
  • Removable Carpets with drainage holes.
  • Removable doors and fold down front windshield.

Disadvantages – The Things I Don’t Like

Some things I didn’t like in test drive and read on the internet:

  • Jeep’s reputation of less than stellar reliability with their cars.
  • Fuel Economy at 16/21 MPG’s not as bad as the FJ Cruiser, but not good either.
  • Seats don’t fold totally flat.
  • Ho-Hum control panel.
  • City driving is a little rough.

Conclusions

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2008 Windshield DownThis is a great vehicle and only two things stop me from immediately declaring it the winner. First, is the awful gas mileage. At 16/21 Miles Per Gallon I’ll be gassing this baby up on a regular basis. And second, the below average reliability rating Jeep and specifically the 2007 Wrangler received from Consumer Reports.

I am just a regular consumer just like everyone else and don’t get to thoroughly test drive these vehicles. I review information already on the internet and couple that with my own test drive and opinions. Hopefully this review helps you make your decision, but I’d highly recommend you do additional research on some of the other great auto review websites like Edmunds, Yahoo Autos, or DogCars.com and take this car for a test drive of your own.

Two cars down and many more to go. I have the review of the Toyota FJ Cruiser 2008 already posted. I hope you enjoyed this article and please feel free to post any comments about this vehicle in the comment section below.

If you liked this article check out my first article on the Perfect Dog Car.

What do you think about the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 2008? Do you own this vehicle?

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31 Comments

  1. Every time I see a Wrangler Unlimited with the top down and the doors off I instantly become jealous. Here in California the summers beg you to remove the top and doors.

    10.3 ltr/100km is really good. If I did my calculation correctly that’s almost 23mpg…which is 3-4mpg higher than I’ve seen on the sticker…hmmm…I might have to head over to the Jeep dealership soon.

    Thanks for the great review! You’re really tempting me!

  2. I have a rubicon 2008, purchased last november 2007. I’m a big guy, at 6,5 feet, I got a wife, 3 kids and a dog. I just love the way I can take the top down, take the doors off and go off-reading with the whole bunch.

    I get about 10.3 ltr/100km, which, all things consider is pretty good for something this size and since I mostly do long commute and little in town use, my rubicon rugedness in street “pot holes” don’t affect me all that much. Maybe that’s why I just LOVE my jeep. i’ll admit that when u get into bad street, the ride is a little rough but it’s a jeep, not a minivan

    Oh, and did I mention I can take the top and the doors off?

    We get a lot of flash spring water floods around here, I love the way I can slowly ride through 2 feet and half of water with no concern whatsoever and not even hae to worry about water seeping in.

    I live in the country, I love the way I can just plow through 3 feet thick by 3 feet high snow at 05h00am because I don’t have the time to snowblow the mountain of snow that some annoying freak snow plowed in my driveway

    I love the way I can access just about anything to repair myself (cause when you seriously off-road, you WILL have learn to be a monkey wrench and don’t you just hate when you have to dismantle half the vehicle to get at what you want to repair).

    Oh, and did I mention I can take the top down and the doors off?

    I’m 40 year old and i’m lazy so I love that I can disconnect my sway bar or lock my front/back lockers at the push of a button.

    I TRULY love my jeep when I see 90% of the other stock off-roader swing, cuss and otherwise push the limit of their SUV often to the breaking point to go place where I just slowly climb with ease.

    The ONLY thing I regret is that I bought mine before all the latest price reduction due to gas increase. 6 months would have made a few hundred $$$ difference. I still would have bought my jeep anyway.

    Oh, and did I mention I can take the top down and the doors off?

  3. @Talia, Thanks for the great reviews of the 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and the 2006 FJ Cruiser. The biggest issue I have with the FJ Cruiser is probably the rear doors. My last car had suicide doors and really didn’t care for them.

    One complaint I’ve heard about the Wrangler Unlimited was the fact that the rear seats didn’t recline (sometimes not very comfortable on longer trips). Have the rear seats been a problem for you at all?

    Also, can you fit two large crates in the back with the seats folded down? The crate I have is actually medium/large for my labs who are approximately 70 pounds each.

    The only thing really holding me back on purchasing the Wrangler Unlimited is the price of gas and the future price of gas.

    Once again thanks for the great reviews!

  4. I just bought a 2008 Wrangler Unlimited, manual transmission. I previously owned a 1998 Wrangler SE. I love Jeeps. I bought the Unlimited for the cargo space and four door, but it still drives the same as a 2 door, in my opinion, and I love that aspect. I was afraid that it would feel unlike a standard Jeep, but it remains truely a trail rated vehicle. What I don’t like is that it stalls in the first gear is not given enough throttle; the stick shift vibrates at times to the point it seems as if it will jump out of gear; the soft top collects puddles in strong rain storms. I am a girly girl, and the exterior style and interior coziness fits my personality well. Oh, and I love that the back seats fold down nearly flat, leaving the cargo area very roomy for my dog’s crate, groceries and other stuff.

    My husband owns a 2006 Toyotal FJ Cruiser. He loves it. It’s manual transmission and fulltime all wheel drive. He’s got the full package (all options). We’ve driven to Wisconsin and North Carolina for family vacation and the FJ has stood up to all inclimate weather. We’ve driven on the beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina and never got stuck in the sand, but we did pass a few Jeep that did. The FJ has a very roomy cargo area and a roof rack that really comes in handy during our trips. The shifting is easy. The ride is somewhat quiet, but there is noticable wind noise. But we love trucks in my family, so we aren’t bothered by a little wind noise. The seats are comfortable. The dash is attractive. Because of the its large size and limited rear view, the blind spot is larger than some other SUV’s and we often must turn our heads to make sure coast is clear for changing lanes. Our dog loves the pop-out read window. What we don’t like about the FJ is the cheap paint job. The paint chips very easily and is already wearing down after only 2 years. The windshield is cheap. The slightest thing that hits it chips away the surface. I don’t like the back seats, they are not for tall people. Also, because of how the doors open, backseat passengers are trapped as the back doors cannot be opened unless the front doors are opened first. In short, someone has to let the backseat passengers out.

  5. @Chris, I think my dogs would absolutely love the Wrangler Unlimited too.

    However, the way gas prices keep creeping up makes me very hesitant. The gas price by my house here in Irvine, CA is now $4.29 a gallon for regular unleaded!

    If I drive this car the way it’s meant to be driven…off road, through the snow, camping trips,…etc. then there’s really no reason why I should have any reservations. I plan on getting the 4×4 if I get this vehicle.

    I think I’m trying to talk myself into this car. It really is on the top of my list. If only jeep would include it in their $2.99 a gallon gas promotion. Of course the Wrangler Unlimited is not included presumably because they’re not having any problem selling this truck.

    Please let me know if you have anymore comments on the Wrangler Unlimited. Maybe I’ll go test drive it again this weekend!

  6. Hey, all I gotta say is if it’s going to make you as happy as it makes me, It’s worth buying. Cut back on some other frivilous expenses, (save about 25 dollars a week) and you won’t notice the extra cost in gas)

    By the way, My dog LOVES this truck. just make sure you don’t bring him/her in with the doors off 🙂

  7. @Chris, I’m so glad you left a comment. I really like the Wrangler Unlimited and the only thing holding me back from buying is the low gas mileage it gets and the high cost of gas. I haven’t test drove any new cars in a while, but plan on looking again.

    The last few weeks I’ve been looking less at the SUV’s and more at smaller cars like the Scion xB, Toyota Prius, and Mini Clubman.

    Again, I’m really glad you left such a positive comment about the Wrangler Unlimited. This is definitely the car I want and would be very easy for transporting my dogs.

  8. oh and by the way… Life time power train warranty… I haven’t had one problem over the course of 1 year, but if I ever do, it’s covered.

  9. I own the Unlimited x verion, with only the soft top, but with the upgraded suspension and wheel package. Overall cost was 25k. I couldn’t be any happier with this vehicle. With gas at 3.70 a gallon, my cost to fill the 22 gallon tank is roughly 68 dollars. (but look at it this way, the truck is only 25K, ure saving alot in overall cost) However the extra few dollars per tank are well worth it. This is one of the only 4 door convertibles on the planet. (and it is easy to take the roof off, and put it back on) Not only is it fun to drive, and great off-road. But it is just cool. I have an ear to ear grin every time I get behind the wheel, and the soft top provides surprisingly good isulation during the winter. This truck is definately made for those who are outdoors oriented. I can’t say enough good about this truck. My only complaints after a year of ownership are as follows. 1. The price of gas. 2. If you take out the rear windows with the soft top, and don’t put them back in properly, they can bow out while driving and allow in air. (but hey, but them in right, and ure fine) 3. When the car is washed, the doors tend to retain a little water. So after you have fully dried it, you always find drip marks the next day. That is it. This is my favorite vehilce I have ever owned, hands down the most fun truck to drive.

  10. I came across this little snipped at the Kelley Blue Book website:

    “Back in town, the more livable Wrangler still isn’t as buttoned down as SUVs like the Nissan Xterra or Toyota FJ Cruiser.”

    These are the first three cars I reviewed and would agree with this statement that the Wrangler was least at home on the pavement.

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