The 2015 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler is popular special edition which brings some of the top-end Rubicon model’s off-road capabilities with pricing closer to the Sport trim grade on which it’s built.

Our recent drive in San Antonio, Texas took us wheeling in the back country to get a good feel for its upgraded hardware which includes gloss black versions of the very same alloy wheels found on the Rubicon with larger BFG KM Mud Terrain tires.

A Dana 44 rear axle gets a Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential and 3.73 gears which made rock climbing a bit more of a breeze. The four-wheel drive system is the tried and true Jeep Command-Trac part-time with a manual two-speed transfer case and a 2.72:1 low-range.

Unique design touches for the Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler include a gloss black grille and badges, gloss black front and rear bumper trim, as well as some keenly retro decals on the hood and rear gate.

The Willys Wheeler also gets rock rails and the Trail Rated Kit that includes a D-Ring, tow strap and gloves in a Jeep-branded bag. Standard for 2015 is also a new eight-speaker audio system with improved sound bar, and Connectivity Group with satelliter radio.

Jeep even includes this year a new standard Torx Tool Kit for to removing the doors and roof so you don’t need to bring your own tools.

Powering the Willys Wheeler of course is the now venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Our tester came with the five-speed automatic but a six-speed manual is also available.

The engine has been reasonably well accepted among Jeep enthusiasts for its power and efficiency. It features an oil sump which ensures oil delivery even at extreme angles and the alternator is mounted high to maintain water fording abilities.

The suspension itself was soft enough to absorb most of the rocks, ruts and irregularities in our moderate test course. It has an uprated suspension from the Sport model but doesn’t have the full on package found in the Rubicon.

That said, it presented a fun to drive and well capable alternative if you’re looking for a more affordable place than the top-line Rubicon. The 2015 Wrangler Willys Wheeler starts at $26,895, about four-grand more than a Sport, but five less than a Rubicon.

The Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition is available on both the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited and can be had with any number of options in doors and tops. You can also get the Willys Wheeler W which has a few additional standard convenience features.

There’s no news out of Jeep yet whether the Willys Wheeler Edition will continue for 2016, so get while the getting is good.