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. I have a 2008 jeep wrangler jk unlimited w/the rubicon package. I’v added several after marked products, smaller wheels,bigger tires,3 inch lift, steel bumpers,beefy brush guard, have several other add ons I plan in the future (jeep, just empty every pocket) I love my 4-door w/the port door area being the ride area for my 2 aussie dogs who can’t be left behind. The gas milage is not a factor for me, it’s the ride that matters. I love my jeep and the only way I’d trade it is if they came out with one that got 24 or more mpg. I will probably have this jeep till it will no longer run.

  2. @Lina, I totally agree with everything you said in your comment.

    Regarding the Honda Element. I agree with you that it’s an ugly car, but another thing that bugs me about it are the suicide doors. My last car had suicide doors and it was very difficult getting my dogs in and out of the back seat especially when I parked next to another car. I have the same issue with the Toyota FJ Cruiser.

    My ex had a husky and I do remember the clumps of fur falling off of her dog and into my car.

    Let us know what car you end up buying.

  3. @Colby I test drove the Wrangler and I’m definitely crossing that off my list. Though I love the exterior, the interior is just a little too Flintstones. It also lacks a lot of power and torque. I was hoping that with 202hp, it wouldn’t be too bad but I was mistaken. I was impressed with how quiet it ran though. As you know, since you live here, its been pouring and the wrangler was nice and quiet.

    I’ve been considering a lot of different cars. I agree with you completely about the Honda Element, the interior, dog accommodations, etc are amazing…I just can’t get past how ugly the exterior is! I’ve been looking at the Pilot, 4Runner, even the new GMC Terrain. Overall, I’m just as unsure and lost as you are. I’ve seen a LOT of Honda Fit dog owners where they put the back seats down and its a 2 seater car with the back fully dedicated to the furry family members. I think I’m more interested in getting a slightly larger vehicle which is why the Prius isn’t on my list. The Venza, along with other crossover/hatchback vehicles, would work…I’m just not a fan of the confused station-wagon look. Suv or Car, one or the other, but definitely not a station-wagon.

    I currently drive a Jetta GLI 6-speed manual turbo which i love. Its just slowly breaking down on me since VW’s aren’t the most reliable. Plus, the cloth Recaro bucket seats are so covered in my husky’s fur that I forget what color the interior is.

  4. @Lina, nope I still haven’t purchased a new car. I sold my Mazda RX-8. It was just too small for my dogs. I’ve been driving a 2000 Honda CRV.

    We like going to the Huntington dog beach too. My Lab, Stetson is not much of a water dog (he’s not a very good representative of his breed), but he does like playing in the sand. Linus my Aussie mix will venture out into the waves once in a while.

    Two years ago I really wanted to get the Wrangler Unlimited, but I’ve heard so many bad stories about the reliability and the low MPG makes me extremely hesitant to pull the trigger and buy that car.

    I was at the LA Auto Show a month ago and took a close look at the Pet-Friendly version of the Honda Element and the Toyota Venza which also has many pet friendly accessories. I’m still not thrilled about the gas mileage on these cars, but I am happy to see Toyota and Honda catering to us dog owners. I’ll probably try to get a couple posts on my thoughts about those two cars in the next couple weeks.

    Are you considering any other dog cars besides the Wrangler?

  5. I’m guessing you already purchased a car, and not sure if you even check this site…but thought i’d write anyway. Everything you wrote is exactly how i’ve been feeling for quite some time. I’ve always been a sports car, vroom vroom type of gal, but my pup comes first. She’s a 55lb husky. And living in orange county, i go to huntington dog beach pretty often. I’ve been wanting the wrangler for a while BUT i’ve been hesitant because of reviews of reliability. I don’t even mind the gas as much.

    So just curious…what did you end up getting and why?

  6. @Annie, you’re not going to believe this, but I still haven’t purchased a new car. I’m still driving the 2000 Honda CRV. Right now I’m understanding the difference between “Want” and “Need”. I want a new car, but I don’t really need one yet.

    I’m sorry to hear your Wrangler was stolen. Thanks for listing all the information about the new Jeep Unlimited problems. It helps make my decision not to buy a car yet much easier. Although I saw one on the rode the other day top down doors off…made me want to run to the Jeep dealership.

    I’ve been eyeballing the new prius and other gas efficient cars and I will probably end up being more practical and going with something like a Prius. I’d like to get car that gets good gas mileage and one that can fit two large crates in the back (with seats folded down).

    Anyhow, I’ll probably start posting dog car reviews again when I start looking for a car and will definitely add a post when I purchase a new car.

    Let me know how your car shopping goes.

  7. What car did you end up buying. I’m in the same predicament. I had a wrangler for 10 years that was stolen this summer and LOVE everything about the look and feel of the unlimiteds however I am concerned about

    worse gas mileage in its class

    poor reliability reports of the the newer jeeps compared to the better engines in the older modes

    Jeep’s problems since coming out of bankrupcy where they have decreased production and I have heard parts being on back-order

    and FBI investigating fires in unlimited transmission which may lead to recalling 200,000 wranglers of 2007 and 2008 wranglers (the 2009s have the same transmission but they are investigating 07s and 08s b/c there have not been any problems with 09 yet

    My back up choice would be the new 2010 prius which I think is much better looking than the older model inside and out and I love the 50 miles per gallon but it is rather ho hum and boring compared to the jeep unlimited.

    Two totally differents cars entirely.

    Let me know what your thoughts are and if you’ve decided what to purchase.

    Thanks,
    Annie

  8. @Yvon, unfortunately for me I’d be doing more city driving rather than highway. So, I’d be getting pretty sad gas mileage. Thanks for posting your mileage numbers…it definitely helps with my decision making…although as you can tell I’m very indecisive on my dog car purchase.

    Yes, the doors off, top down, and even windshield down are very appealing with spring and summer right around the corner (and living in Southern California).

    I’ll make sure to update everyone when I finally do make a decision.

  9. Still getting great mileage. About 10.5 liter/100 km. Of course, the fact that I do almost exclusively highway helps a lot. Once i’m in town, Urhg! 15 liters/100 km. That’s ugly.

    Still…. I just love beeing able to take door and top down… This year, I might even take the windshield down. Now THAT would be something.

  10. Just stumbled across this blog and I wanted to add my two cents worth. I went looking for the perfect dog vehicle and it seems I looked at the same vehicles you did. I have 1 year old Newfoundland and a 10 year old Belgian Tervuren. With the back seats up I can fit my Newfies crate sideways in the cargo area. (I have a crate that has a side door and an end door.) If I fold the back seats down I can get both the Newfies and the Tervs crates in the back but the Terv then has to enter through the side back door. With my Newfie being a drooler the seats and the YES fabric are great for the stain resistance and ease of cleaning. The carpeting seems to clean just as easy but does seem to hold onto the hair a little bit. Since this is posted 6 months after your last response I am assuming you have purchased your new vehicle. When I had my Newfie neutered he was unable to stand for long after the surgery so we just left him in his crate and lifted into the back of the Jeep. I know that it wouldn’t been possible in the Honda Element or FJ cruiser because the extra large crate wouldn’t have fit. I have owned my Jeep for 14 months now and I haven’t had a single mechanical problem with it yet. There is a lifetime warranty on the drivetime train which is a good thing. My dogs love it when they get to ride with the top down. My wife and son love it when the top is down so it is like the perfect middle age car for the person that wants a convertible but find that a sports car is not pracitcal for a family that likes to travel with its dogs.

    1. @Greg, Sorry for the late response here. Unfortunately, I haven’t purchased a new car yet. A couple things have been stopping me from buying a new car. First, I’m still concerned about the price of gas. The Wrangler doesn’t get the best mileage and even though gas prices are lower now watching the price rise above $4 a gallon made me rethink getting an SUV. The second issue I’m having is the state of the economy and the stability of my job. I feel pretty secure with my job, but I’m just being cautious.

      I appreciate your comments and everything you’ve mentioned is exactly what I want in a dog car. That’s great that you haven’t had any mechanical problem that was one of my concerns after reading the consumer report. I’ll probably be back at the auto dealerships at the end of this month and right now the Wrangler is still one of the front runners.

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