LEGO Technic 42122 Jeep Wrangler: the ultimate 4×4 to fit your wallet [Review]

The most iconic offroader of all time has now joined the LEGO pantheon. The LEGO Technic 42122 Jeep Wrangler is the first time in decades LEGO has licensed the classic brand whose name is nearly synonymous with 4×4. (A few old very old sets bear the Jeep name, but are so rudimentary the resemblance is weak at best.) When I first heard about the new Jeep set, I assumed it would be the American counterpart to last year’s excellent Technic 42110 Land Rover Defender, a massive 2,500-piece set. However, the Jeep has more modest aims, coming in at just 665 pieces. It features functional steering, suspension, and a winch. It will be available starting January 1, 2021, for US $49.99 | CAN $69.99 | UK £44.99.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box and contents

The box shows the bumblebee-yellow Jeep on the front traversing a rocky stream in some high mountains, while the back shows off its various play features as well as an image of the real deal, a yellow 2021 Jeep Wrangler. It’s immediately obvious that the LEGO Jeep, like many real ones, carries some aftermarket mods not present on the stock example, like larger tires with more tread, the winch, and the roof rack.

Inside, the parts are divvied into five bags, with only two numbered steps. The five tires, substantial instruction manual, and sticker sheet are loose in the box. With the nearly 700 pieces divided into just two sections, you’ll be rooting through over 300 pieces at any given time, making this set with its age rating of 9+ actually a bit more challenging than many recent sets bearing the 18+ labeling.

The sticker sheet contains just a few cosmetic touches, such as the door handles, “Rubicon” lettering on the hood, and the seat decorations. Notably, the iconic 7-slot Jeep grille is not part of the sticker sheet.

This is because the seven elements that make up the grille are printed–the only uniquely printed elements in this set. At least you won’t have to worry about screwing up the alignment of the single most significant design aspect of your new offroader.

Digging into the parts reveals a couple of new elements. The tires are all-new, though we’ve spotted them in a few other 2021 sets, such as the upcoming 60287 City Tractor. The heavy-tread offroading tires fit on the standard 30X20 wide rim. The tread is directional, something I realized I didn’t pay attention to until after I’d photographed the set, so some of my tires are sure to cause some pretty bad alignment and wear issues down the road. Good thing my Jeep will spend most of its time in the garage, making it the perfect poster child for most 4x4s sold these days. You’ll get five of the tires, with one mounted as a spare on the back.

The other new part is a small 2×3 Technic panel. Like the tires, we’ve also spotted this piece in other 2021 sets such as the 42123 McLaren Senna GTR. This set includes three in yellow to help smooth the hood to grille transition.

The build

The Jeep Wrangler doesn’t have a moving engine or gearbox, so the base is quite simple for a Technic vehicle. The frame starts off immediately by adding the seats, along with the groundwork for two of the functions the Jeep does have, the steering controlled by a knob on the roof, and the suspension.

Like real Jeeps, both the front and rear wheels are mounted on solid axles. However, here the suspension is only sprung in the back, with two yellow springs giving a bit of bounce. The front axle moves freely, stopped only when it’s blocked by the frame.

With only two numbered sets of parts, the build progresses switfly through the booklet’s 190 steps. The grille is mounted near the end of bag 1, along with the plastic cowling that covers the engine area. The engine bay, though accessible through the opening hood, is hardly an interest point on the finished model. One could view it as a shortcut to lower the part count, or as a commentary on the trend of real vehicles having their engines increasingly obscured by plastic cowling in an attempt to hide away the mechanical bits from owners and would-be home mechanics.

A few more yellow Technic beams add the doors and a bit of the rear bodywork, and black ones make up the exposed rear bench seat. At this point, all that’s left is to add the hood, minimal roof, and wheels, so we’ll skip on to the finished model.

The finished model

OK, this looks like a pretty sweet offroader. It’s hefty and chunky and blazingly yellow, and those new tires look perfect for rock crawling on a backwoods trail.

The opening hood and doors make this feel like a fun model, even if opening them doesn’t reveal much in the way of detail.

The interior of the cabin is sparse, with a sticker across the dashboard for the instrument cluster, screen, and airvents. The only poseable element is the steering wheel, which can be adjusted up and down (and spun, though it doesn’t connect to anything).

The winch on the front bumper is simple but effective. Real winch technology hasn’t changed much in the last century, and neither has LEGO’s approach, though the Jeep is relegated to using the simpler style without a locking mechanism (unlike the larger Landrover’s winch).

The suspension has a good deal of travel, letting the Jeep effortlessly crawl over even large rocks in its path. The lack of springs on the front axle is noticeable, but not as much of a detriment as I would have expected.

The Wrangler can easily be bounced from side to side.

The solid axles and the unique spring setup means the Jeep always stays perfectly level front to back, as the axles themselves do not move up and down; the Jeep simply pivots around the central joint. In all, it’s a very good effect to not only imitate the real Jeep’s solid axles but also provide fun suspension with relatively few elements.

The steering is controlled via a knob at the back of the roof, and while it works well, you’d better hope your old mining trails have very shallow curves, because the turning radius on this would make a semitruck seem nimble. Despite the model coming in at just 9.5 inches bumper to bumper, the turning radius is about 25 inches. Get ready for a 12-point turn if your road is blocked!

From a visual perspective, this model pretty much nails the most important aspect of any Jeep model: the grille. The round headlights, 7-slot grille, and rounded bottom corners immediately sell this as a Jeep.

However, the rest of the model seems to rely on that grille to do the heavy lifting. The cabin is too low, giving the vehicle a squat, wide look that results in it feeling more like a two-door Hummer H2 than a Jeep Wrangler. The aftermarket bumpers, fenders and ultra-high stance, although common mods on real Jeeps, add to the Hummer-like effect.

Conclusion and recommendation

The Jeep Wrangler isn’t quite the top-tier model I was hoping for, though it’s not trying to be. The Technic Jeep Wrangler is an entry-level model for builders who are new to Technic to try their hand at recreating an iconic piece of American machinery. Nearly every year since the Technic theme began, LEGO has released generic 4×4 off-roaders, many of which have been fun models and fine designs. But none of them stir up interest in the way a Jeep does. For that reason alone, adding the Jeep branding is a big success, because what 4×4 vehicle could be more exciting than a proper Jeep? The model is also sure to bring in some new builders, as Jeep fans are nearly as diehard as LEGO fans, and it’s always a good thing to draw in new fans to the hobby.

The Jeep Wrangler is not without flaws, though. The design is good enough in its Jeep-ness to convey the brand it represents, but it never rises to perfection. Swap out that grille and this model could pass for one of those good-but-generic 4x4s of previous years. The play features are all solid, though I can’t help but feel the lack of a moving piston engine under the hood, something that’s long been the hallmark of Technic models. If you’re already well acquainted with LEGO Technic models, you won’t find anything new here beyond the Jeep branding.

Ultimately, this is a solid, fun set, but unless you’re a huge Jeep fan who can’t wait to get your hands on LEGO’s first Technic Jeep, you should wait to buy it on a bit of a discount (or perhaps when there’s a particularly interesting gift-with-purchase and double VIP points, if buying directly from LEGO).

The LEGO Technic 42122 Jeep Wrangler contains 665 pieces and will be available Jan 1, 2021, from the LEGO Shop Online for US $49.99 | CAN $69.99 | UK £, and other retailers. It may also be available from third-party sellers on eBay.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

5 comments on “LEGO Technic 42122 Jeep Wrangler: the ultimate 4×4 to fit your wallet [Review]

  1. Tony Wesztergom

    I wish it came in Bikini Pearl, the color of my Jeep. I think that yellow is called Hella Yella though.

  2. Manuel Olmedo

    Great set, but I’m disappointed in the piece count. There are a lot of mocs of wranglers in the afol community, but all lacking official lego wheels or Jeep details, a fender, a new part for the suspension, etc.. I was not expecting a set like the Bugatti, but at least like the Landrover set.

  3. Robert M.

    I imagine it’s just a matter of time until somebody builds this as the Transformers Combaticon, Swindle. Would there be enough clearance to accommodate the transformation joints?

  4. Alex

    This is not really a 4×4 and not even a fake motor. And I don’t understand why the new panels only have axle holes…0

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