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ROAD & TRAVEL First Impressions: 2007 Jeep Unlimited Wrangler Sahara

2007 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Nixes First Impression Gripes

by Jessica Howell

There is no graceful way to climb up and into a Jeep Wrangler. The angles are awkward, the height is high and the interior is anything but plush and comfortable. This, I realized, as I hiked myself up and behind the vehicle’s steering wheel around five o'clock on a Friday afternoon, incidentally dressed in a rather restricting skirt.

My first thought: This is not my type of vehicle. Yes, I look for function and practicality in a vehicle – and the Wrangler Sahara embodies both of these traits; but what it lacked, in my opinion, was the necessary ease associated with handling daily errands and long weekend drives. Wrangler’s rugged capabilities weren’t priority on my checklist of car must-haves.

And then, on my long weekend drive to Bay City, Michigan, rain began to patter against the Wrangler’s windshield as I was cruising the expressway at 70 mph. After a few minutes, it fell harder, then harder yet, until the wipers were whipping to and fro at max speed. The windshield, which moments earlier seemed irritatingly close to my face and extremely vertical, was now a godsend, offering a close and clear view of lane markers, despite inclement weather.

The height of the muscular truck, which had before seemed cumbersome and distinctly guy-oriented, was now an attribute that I was thankful for – perched high enough above neighboring drivers to see what lay before me on the expressway.

As I drove, I counted the redeeming qualities of the Red Rock painted Wrangler Sahara, nipping my initial perceptions of the vehicle in the bud, one by one.

It was maneuverable, offering the height and function of a truck, without the dragging weight of a bed in back. It was roomy, offering four doors, five seats and plenty of cargo space with a clean interior too - no nonsense gadgets or unnecessary frills. It was safe, offering multi-stage front air bags, optional seat-mounted side air bags, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability, Electronic Roll Mitigation, ABS and side-impact door beams.

And one characteristic that nobody can deny – the new Wrangler carries on the classic sport attitude traditionally associated with Jeep. In it, one can’t help allowing a bit of the fun-loving, off-road attitude of Wrangler to rub off on them - especially if it's warm enough to ride minus the Freedom Top (Jeep's 3-piece modular hard top).

I had conformed. I may not be heading off to the next Camp Jeep or slapping on a “If you can read this, flip me over” bumper sticker, but I had grown a soft spot for the Wrangler Sahara that made my would-have-been taunting drive one of ease.

Switching on the high beams and considering the stability of the slightly frozen farm ground surrounding us, I turned to my passenger, who raised an eyebrow to my mischievous grin.

“Interested in a little off-roading?” I asked.

ROAD & TRAVEL's Test Vehicle Stats

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4
Mid-Size SUV
Engine size:

3.8L V5 SMPI Engine


4-speed automatic

Fuel Economy:

16/19 mpg (city/highway)


*Including Red Rock Crystal Paint charge ($225), Customer Preferred Package 24G ($1,585) and Destination Charge ($660).