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2005 Cute Ute Buyer's Guide

2005 Jeep Wrangler Long Wheelbase Review

by Martha Hindes

2005 Jeep Wrangler Long Wheelbase
2005 Jeep Wrangler Long Wheelbase

Size has been a signature of the world's original sport utility vehicle. The little runt, born for rugged war duty more than a half-century ago, seemed size-constrained almost by the necessity of being able to squeeze through seemingly impossible places with no room to spare. (And a quality that since has proven itself during climbs of the most rugged terrain for true off-road enthusiasts.)

Breathe easier, Wrangler fans. Even the fabled uncharted territory crowd gets more stretch room with a longer, "Unlimited" version in grunt mode. Translated, that means the 10 added inches of wheelbase and 15 more inches of interior room of the recently added, extended wheelbase "Unlimited" version can come fitted for the most rugged off-road duty. A late arrival that barely squeaked under the dateline for 2004 models, the longer Wrangler Unlimited gets a beefed-up Rubicon version for '05, with the kind of "low range" 4X4 capability that lets it literally climb rocks.

On the creature-comfort side (depending on model): New available Premium Audio Group with seven-speaker sound, new security group including Sentry Key, AC and air bags. Wranglers now total six models, with the latest loaded stretch entry costing a whopping third more than the $18,000 base. Standard-length Wranglers haven't been overlooked, either. They get the same new six-speed manual (optional four-speed auto with the 4.0-liter Inline six). This isn't your refined flavor of Jeep (that's saved for its sibling Liberty SUV). But two added inches of legroom for those in the second row might coax a trail reluctant colleague to go along for the ride.