Four Door Jeep Wrangler
I am currently in the process of purchasing a sport utility vehicle. It ssems that the 1997 Jeep Wrangler Sahara is getting the most consideration. I would appreciate any feedback, good, bad or otherwise from owners of the 1997 Jeep Wrangler.
What are your thoughts about on and off road performance, gas mileage and axle selection? Please relpy via email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts. My aim is to publish your comments, please state that I have your permission. Thanks.
Feedback to Quest For Jeepness
Unless you are planning on some serious off-roadin' you can stick with the stock Axel. As for the Sahara...You'd better order it now since it takes about 5 months to get (unless you can find one you like on a lot). I have the 1997 Wrangler Sport model w/ the 4.0 HO engine. I bought mine off the lot because of the wait. I was lucky to find one I like. I have had it for a couple of weeks now and have several feelings about it. When it rains, the top leaks a little. It's not a lot but it's enough that I noticed it after a full day of rain. But that's to be expected on Jeeps with soft tops. During a regular rain I get no leak only on a real rainy day. Depending on where you live, definitloy consider getting both tops. I am in New York and will buy a Hard Top as soon as I can get one (backordered forever). It's definitly nicer in the Winter time. I love the ride of my new Jeep. It's a firm ride and I like being higher than everyone on the road. As for gas milage....it's not too good but what do you expert from a jeep? Any particular reason for going with a Sahara over the Sport? I'd be happy to answer any questions I can.Tim
I bought one and regret it. Why you ask? I never drove it or even looked at it. I ordered one and was told by a dealer in Portsmith NH that it would take 4 to 6 weeks for it to arrive. It took 4 MONTHS and they never tried to offer me a deal on others that had came in. I cancelled my order after the third promised delivery date had passed. That was three months after I had ordered it. They have not given me my $500 dollar deposit back. Please learn from my experience and buy one sitting on the lot from another dealer. If you do decide to order one, get every detail in writting( price, maximum waitig time, etc) Bill from MA
I recently purchased a TJ-Sport, and like you, it was my first vehicle of this type. In all honesty, I bought it because I liked the looks, ruggedness, and image of a Jeep. I also planned to do some off-roading, but not the heavy-duty stuff. So far, I'm really happy with it. I've got 2500 miles on it, and no signs of any problems.
Now that I've got the Jeep, I've been getting more and more interested in the off-road aspects of Jeep ownership. Given that I eventually plan to take the Jeep off-road, which will require some mods to the Jeep if I get into it at all, there are some things that I did right, and not-so-right with the purchase of my Sport. Here are some of the things I'd do and not-do if I could do it all over again:
- Buy the smallest tires available. I'm going to end up upgrading to bigger ones anyway. - Buy the Dana 44 rear end. The Dana 44 is a stronger axle than the standard Dana 35C, which can be handy off-road. - Don't buy a limited slip differential. For moderate off-road use, the limited slip diff from the factory is probably not good enough and to add a locker into a diff with limited slip can be expensive. - Get the 4.0 liter engine (standard with the Sahara I'm sure).
That's my 2 cents worth. Please keep in mind that I don't have any off-road experience. I'm just passing along some of the info that I've read in the Newsgroups and in magazines. In a nutshell, I guess I'm suggesting that you think through the degree of off-roading that you plan to do, and what modifications you will likely make to the Jeep. This will help you avoid investing money in options from the factory that you may end up tossing out later anyway.Good luck. Hope you enjoy your Jeep. Rob Tracy
Regarding your inquiry about 97 Jeep Wranglers, we have a 97 Sahara 5-speed manual with the 4.0 engine, plus factory air. This is our second one, having had one several years ago that performed very well. Here are some observations outside the "does it run good" category:
(1) The Wrangler underwent some major redesigning for the 97 model year. The result is a MUCH better ride and much improved control at the steering wheel. The steering is still sensitive (perhaps still a bit TOO sensitive for an inexperienced driver), but also very responsive. The vehicle simply "feels" more stable than our previous one, particularly at super-highway speeds.
(2) The convertible top is MUCH simpler to take down and put back up (than was the case with our previous jeep).
(3) The 4.0 liter engine is strong. It tows our 18 foot tournament pro Bass Tracker aluminum boat with NO trouble and is very sure- footed (obviously) at the landings. Gas milage, on the other hand, is just "OK".
(4) If you run two-way radio communications, you'll find this car a "real bear" in figuring out where to install an antenna. We fi- nally installed a low profile light bar just to accept the mount.
(5) The heater and air conditioning in this 97 model are both ex- cellent . . . which was NOT the case with our previous model.
(7) The car can also be a "bear" for sportsmen (sportswomen) when trying to figure out where to put everything. For instance, we flyfish a lot, and hauling flyrods (assembled) from put-in place to put-in place is a challenge because of the short body length. HOWEVER, the little car is SOOO conducive to customizing and there is a proverbial WEALTH of after-market attachments and "gizmos" specially constructed for the Wranger to answer about every con- ceivable need. We even found a an external flyrod carrier that provides the perfect answer to our problem and San Angelo Gun Racks (out in California somewhere) makes excellent multi-gun mounts for this model.
All in all, the 97 Wrangler is VASTLY improved over earlier models, performs beautifully, but has drawbacks when compared to larger 4x4s. It IS a Jeep, however, and the darned things are just FUN to drive!!
Best regards......................................RWG in Central N.C. mailto:email@example.com
I've owned my '97 Wrangler for nearly a year, with more than 13,000 miles on it, and so far I've really enjoyed it. I have the 4 cylinder engine -- sometimes I wish I had the extra power of the 6, but most of the time the four gives enough power. As far as on and off road performance goes, it's excellent at both: the redesigned suspension gives a nice smooth ride on the road, while the increased axle articulation improves the off-road performance greatly as well.
I've written/assembled a list of frequently asked questions about the '97 Wrangler -- it's on my Web site at http://www.visi.com/~tam/tjfaq.html. It has all sorts of advice and collected wisdom about the Wrangler, including what kind of options you should get and what people's experiences with the vehicle have been. You can also check out the newsgroup rec.autos.makers.jeep+willys for more discussion.
(By the way, it's okay with me if you want to publish my comments.) -- Todd Murray - firstname.lastname@example.org://www.visi.com/~tam/ Slightly deranged mountain biker, snow skater, and proud owner of a 1997 Jeep Wrangler (TJ).
I have wanted a Wrangler for about six years now and decided to spend the money in Aug. 1996. I finally decided that it was time to get what I wanted, a Wrangler...
What also made the choice easier was the all new design. I am very impressed with the interior. The console update is both ergonomic and reversible for Jeep in other countries (smart thinking). I really like the departure from the box shape to a smoother edge. The retro lights make it all come together.
I now have 7400 miles on mine and love it! There are some drawbacks, gas mileage, road noise, and wheather elements with the top off, but I would do it again... One thing that really disappointed me was the way I was treated at the dealership; the salesman was pond scum, didn't know much about the TJ and I almost left that dealership.
Come swing by for more info and other TJ owner links/reviews... http://www.themall.net/~jondolan/97jeep.htm
I wanted a convertable. But I needed a 4X4 to deal with Northeast PA winters... the answer was a Jeep Wrangler (I got the Hard Top for winter and the Soft Top for summer). I never saw myself as a "Jeep guy" but now I am hooked. I've had my Sahara for one week as of today (4/19). In the three days I had off this week I put on 700 miles. Of that probably 30% was on trails 70% was on country roads (around here some of the trails are better than some of the roads).
I got the 30" tires and the Trac-Lok. Both seem to have created the perfect package for moderate off roading. I'm proud to say that some of trail veterans around here are amazed at the trails I've hit with my new Jeep! Unless you are only using your Jeep as an off-road toy this stock package seems fine for combination use.
There seems to be good value in the Sahara package. I would have gone for a Red Sport Model but by the time I added all of the options it made more sense to go Sahara. While the Red is really sporty the Green/Spice Sahara is a classy look that has grown on me. From what I've heard people are waiting about six weeks for delivery. While there are horror stories about 4 month waits; there are also dream stories about 30 days. I was looking at six weeks but the dealer found one that was close to mine (I gave up anti lock brakes, (which I had mixed feelings about), and I got a rim upgrade (that I didn't really want but they've grown on me) in a week and a half. I paid $800 over dealer invoice plus an extra $200 for him to trade with another dealer and have it picked up. I probably could have squeezed a couple more bucks out of the dealer or gone to a bigger dealer for a better deal but living in a small semi-rural town I like to keep my money local.
I admit 700 miles leaves me several thousand miles short of being an expert but you asked for my two cents... and now you have it.
I generally concur that the ideal TJ (not necessarily the best for everyone) is the 4.0 Sport with the DANA-44 and Trak-Lok if you ever intend to take it off-road for any kind of sport or hobby, not just 4-wheeling. I do however have an opinion a little different than others on your Quest for Jeepness post as follows:
1. Rob Tracy is somewhat mis-informed about the Trak-Lok limited slip that comes on the DANA-44. It performs exceedingly well even in extreme off-road conditions and I use and recommend it for any type of off-roading, extreme or otherwise. It is not as strong as other solid lockers but it will function quite well during the warranty period. When it needs to be replaced, there are various newer sophisticated lockers that will be available to you at that time, if you need them. I ran into a situation in CO last summer that forced me to turn back 25 miles-because I had no locking rear wheels of any type (don't have that Jeep anymore). 2. I would not recommend the Sahara unless you are sure you will never (never!) do any off-roading to get to a prime out of the way fish hole, hunting trail or beautiful view. The fenders are painted to match the color of the Sahara (not universal black) and they will get badly scratched by the side brush,rocks and trees. The lower plastic panels running along the body are also subject to off-road damage. The interior and seating is too pretty to mess up also. I generally consider the Sahara to be an equal, and nice looking Jeep, but these small little things will get real ugly on such a nice package -if and when you do off-road! 3. I had the dealer do a computer search for what I wanted and drove 300 miles to pick it up. It took 4 days of searching but I got it.
Welcome and good luck, Georg Kaufmann email@example.com
Just wanted to send you a quick note. You have received some very good feedback. I myself have a '95 Wrangler. It is basically stock with a lift kit and 33" Tires. I have made it thru the Rubicon (open diffs) with no problems.
One of the best places for you to visit is: http://www.off-road.com/
You will find just about everything you could want or find out answers to your questions. Also at the site is a place to join the Jeep List.
With a Jeep you can get to alot of nice spots where others can't.
Happy Trails, Mark Pratt member of Gettin' Off 4WDC & CA4WDC --
Hi, I wish I could tell you how I like my TJ but I have been waiting for delivery for a while. I was told to expect it in four to six weeks. The six week date was on May 27. It is now June 25 and still no Jeep!! The last word I heard was shipping on the 20th and delivery in 3 or 4 days which should have been yesterday! I will have to give them a call tonight. Any way I ordered a Sport soft top, full doors [so I have real side windows] Dann44 rear[ only avalible with the trac lok], 30" tire package, and A/C. dark blue with spice top. Can't wait till it gets here! Hope you enjoy yours when you get it!
4.0 w/ Auto. Gas mileage sucks (14-15 mpg range). Get the Dana44 rear end. Worthwhile for resale value alone (unless you want to limit the potential buyers to "idiots only"). 3.73 gears available on '98s (a good thing). I don't believe you can do better than a TJ. Get the 30" tire pkg. Comes w/ 8" alum wheels which means when you go to bigger tires later, anything up to a 12.50 wide radial will fit the existing wheels. I've owned an '82 CJ7 and a '94 YJ. They weren't even close to what this vehicle is. I've also owned 3 Broncos and an F 150, all modified to one degree or another. Lift kits, 35" tires, etc. All I plan to do to my TJ is some 31" BFG M-T T/As. That's all it needs...
Dave Williams firstname.lastname@example.org '97 TJ Sport, Dana44, 30"(for now...) Home Page: http://indiana.net/~ctrlra/
I purchased mine March '96 (born Feb '96). The first in the Oklahoma City area. It is a SE model (4-cyl). It has the power steering package and full carpeting and rear seat. No radio, no air, nada. Just a Jeep. The first thing to go were the stock wheels and tires. Too wimpy. Next came out the rear seat. Extra weight, didn't need it anyways. Also out came all rear seat brackets and rear seat belts (drove me completely nuts with the top down and flapping in the wind). Next to come out will be all the carpeting. Too difficult to clean. The wheels were replaced with five American Racing Gamblers (size 15x7), with 3- 3/8 inch backspacing, New tires are Super Swamper 31x10.5x15 TSL's, which included a spare which does clear the rear center brake light. Once the carpeting comes out I'll have the entire inside Rhino lined. Should make cleaning easier. I've found the 4-cyl to be excellant out in the dirt when I four wheel, and adequate for high speed high way driving (if I'm headed northward and I've got a south wind, something common here in Oklahoma, I can get up to 75-80 mph). Overall, I love my TJ. When I first bought it I never figured to really be a hard core wheeler. But since then things have changed. Most of my driving is out in the dirt (it's not a daily driver, only 5100 miles which included a trip to northern New Mexico), so I don't really need the larger engine. Eventually I'll install a ARB Locker in the rear end for even better traction. Took my 15 year old nephew out today (July 5) and impressed the hell out of him. Climbed slick rock "trails" (some with steps of up to 24") and travered some deep mud trails (up to the body to the TJ). None of this is bravado on my part. It's just that basically stock (the only exception was the change in wheels and tires), this machine can nearly go anywhere. Of course this may be more hardcore wheeling than you've planned. But you just never know. So lots of luck with your TJ.
Dwayne Weyrich 4PAW4 (my liscense plate)
The Sahara model has painted fenders and plastic side trim which will get scuffed up if you take the Jeep off road. Also the interior is prettier, and you may not like having it get wet or dirty. I don't even let the dog in mine very often...
I don't intend to really go off road, but I am going to add the larger tires and wheels. The Jeep looks naked with stock tires and wheels. I also like the tubular bumpers, but haven't found any Stainless Steel versions. I don't want chrome.
My 97 is a Black Sahara with Black hard top. I waited exactly 1 hour to get it... At first I though the green/tan interior clashed, but I've gotten used to it.
It rode real quiet for the first 200 miles or so, now it's just a Jeep.
If I wouldn't have been so impatient, and had Chrysler made more attractive vinyl seats, I would have gotten a Sport model. The seats in my previous 91 model were smooth vinyl with a leather like texture. I didn't care if they got wet or if the dog sat on them. But Chrysler gave the 97 a weave texture, and I didn't like it at all. I am MUCH more careful with the 97 Sahara... That sort of spoils all the fun!
I've had my new Jeep for three months now and still enjoy every minute of owning it. It's my sixth Jeep and by far the best. (The others were all CJ's) My 6 cylinder Sport has the 30 inch tire/aluminum wheel package with 3.55 dana 44 tracklock rear axle. It also has AC, convenience group, and a few other goodies that I ordered with it or added. anyone that wants an excellent on AND off road vehical should get one set up this way. Jim Dennison email@example.com
I purchased my Jeep February 28, 1998. I chose the Sahara model with hard top, 30" tire package, Air, ABS, Trac-Loc, cruise control, and 5-speed. I am rather happy with my purchase, so far I haven't had any problems. I seem to get about 18-19mpg on the highway and around 15-16mpg in town. Not too bad, but I didn't expect much.
I previously owned a four-door Ford Explorer so the transition to a Jeep was quite dramatic. I had always admired Wranglers and wanted to own one before I became too old to still have the urge. I am a 23-year-old college student. I immediately purchased a soft top for my Jeep as well and had it installed and put the hard top back on. Since I have stored the hardtop for the summer and spring.
The soft top fits under the hardtop a bit awkward and the hard top tends to scuff up your soft top when on at the same time. The road noise with the hardtop on is fairly reasonable, but there is a lot of wind noise on windy days and on the interstate @ 70-80mph. Since taking the hardtop off, the soft top is not quite as noisy as I thought it would be (I did not have high expectations though). Unless it is very windy, the wind noise is rather reasonable @ 60mph. The noise increases a lot after 65mph. Raising and lowering the soft top is not too bad, but again I had low expectations. After I repeat the procedure more I can tell it will probably take 5min minimum. If travelling with the top down you are troubled by where to store the back soft windows. I am considering buying a large separated pouch from Mopar specifically for this purpose. You don't want to get caught in the rain on the road!
The ride on the Wrangler is very acceptable unless the roads are fairly bad. On very rough roads your patience can be tested. As long as there aren't many rough spots in a row you are fine. If you are worried about passenger comfort, don't. The rear seat is surprisingly wide, although the leg room is not great, it's tolerable. I sometimes get sore from the seats on long trips, but it's no big deal.
I was concerned about purchasing half-doors because I didn't think the full doors would look good with the top off; however, the full doors look surprisingly good with the top down thanks to the plastic mold around them that are to aid in the new soft top system. No reason to spend $500-750 on a pair of half doors.
I really enjoy buzzing around town in my Wrangler even though it is a manual. I would highly recommend to anyone purchasing a Wrangler to get a stick unless they absolutely feel they want an automatic. The automatic system in the Wrangler is an archaic 3-speed.
The heater works very well except I don't like how the floor vents point almost direcly to the side. If they pointed forward a little more I think the car would heat more quickly. Also, I wish there were a setting for floor and dash vents at the same time. As far as I can tell the A/C works well also (only used it twice). Also wish the opening to the mammoth lockable center console was larger so you could put bigger things inside and lock them. The fog lamps put off an incredible amount of light also.
So far I have enjoyed my Wrangler and put 2600 miles on it in a month and a half. I would recommend to anyone considering buying a Wrangler to make sure and get a 6-cylinder. If it's fairly hot in the summer and fairly cold in the winter where you live get A/C as well as a hard top. Even if you have the top down in the summer and it's real hot and humid you can pump the A/C on yourself when you are at those long stoplights. If you are even a little indecisive get a stick. Also, I really enjoy having the cruise control on the new Wranglers. The only thing that seems awkward to me is having the set function on the left of the steering wheel with the on/off, but there's really no where else to put it.
Please feel free to paraphrase or edit my e-mail in any way. I just want to help people make an educated decision. You have my permission to use anything I have written.
Becker 900 Charleston Lincoln, NE 68508 firstname.lastname@example.org