It also works well off-road, where its torque helps the Wrangler excel at climbing over rocks and through mud. When we drove it in the snow in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Wrangler didn't skip a beat. It would take a lot more to discourage a vehicle with this level of capability than a little snow. But we know there is a better engine out there, one that has more gusto and provides better fuel economy. A question, though: If the 3.6-liter Pentastar becomes the JK's engine, would the Wrangler be the first application of that engine with a manual transmission? We can't imagine Jeep would discontinue the stick, so if the upgrade happens, it would make sense for trans options to be a six-speed manual and a five-speed auto.

Aside from the new top, the other major difference is the JK's new interior. Our testers had a tasteful black and tan color scheme in the cabin, the two-door with cloth seats, the four-door with leather. That the most rugged member of the Jeep family now has such available features as leather with seat heaters in front, heated power side-view mirrors, steering wheel audio controls, and U-Connect with Bluetooth audio may seem like heresy. But even the most diehard Jeep owner is going to get cold in the dead of winter; besides, with seat heaters, you can roll through town with the top down, doors off, and windshield folded down during a snowstorm and look like the manliest person on earth. And even with the new electronics, the doors are still removable.

Other changes: The door panels and center console use softer-touch materials, the dash and gauges were redesigned, and there is more storage room inside. Those with an eagle eye might notice that the side and rear windows are larger by as much as 20 percent, which significantly helps visibility.

The Wrangler, in essence, is the same as it ever was -- with awesome off-road capability and good looks that work on rocks, on the road, or in the sand, it is one of the coolest convertibles money can buy. Jeep managed to make the Wrangler more user-friendly, more comfortable, and more luxurious, without taking away any of the things that make this model legendary.

2011 Jeep Wrangler
Base price range $23,575-$34,275
Vehicle layout Front engine, 4WD, 4-5-pass, 2-4-door convertible SUV
Engine 3.8L/202-hp/237-lb-ft OHV 12-valve V-6
Transmissions 6-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Curb weight 3850-4500 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 95.4-116.0 in
Length x width x height 152.8-173.4 x 73.7-73.9 x 70.8-70.9 in
0-60 mph 9.5-10.2 sec (MT est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 15/19 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.17 lb/mile
On sale in U.S. Currently