2018 Jeep Wrangler Now Can Be an Every Day Driver
All New 2018 Jeep Wrangler
One of the major challenges for Jeep in the major re-design of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler – the 4th Gen Wrangler – was how to maintain its ultimate off-road capability while making it easier to live with day-to-day. Jeep says “we are maintaining and enhancing tradition.” And they are. Previous Wranglers were capable off-road, but abusive on-road. Generally, a Wrangler owner would only keep it for two or three years and then move into a vehicle that was softer, and more compliant. It was a one-time vehicle. Probably it was one of those things where the happiest days were when you bought it and then when you got rid of it. The market for nearly-new Wranglers is robust among avid off-roaders.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler has a simple model lineup. There are 2-door and 4-door bodystyles. The 2-door is available in Sport and Rubicon models and represents 25% to 33% of the bodystyle mix. The 4-door Wrangler Unlimited immediately outsold the 2-door and has two-thirds to three-quarters of the bodystyle mix. The 4-door is available in Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon models.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is new from the ground up and, while keeping the character of its predecessors, fixes the issues the may have prevented someone from keeping theirs for a long time. The new Wrangler is a vehicle you can drive day-to-day in comfort for years. The design is unmistakably Wrangler, and at-a-glance, many folks will not be able to tell the difference. It looks tough and capable. Still hard-core. Sure the grille is laid back a bit and so is the windshield. This improves its brick-like aerodynamics by a few percentage points (9% improvement). The belt-line is lower providing much larger side windows that provide better visibility.
In a head nod to off-roaders, the doors of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler can be removed. The windshield can fold down. The roof can open or come off depending on which roof you have. There is a wide selection of tops – two hardtops, the “Sky One-Touch” power top, and a soft top are available. The Wrangler can be completely closed or completely open depending on climate, terrain and how dusty you want to get.
The doors, hood, fenders and windshield frame are aluminum to save weight. The swing gate is magnesium. All in the quest for lighter weight and more responsive handling.
Improving driving comfort was a central objective for the Wrangler engineering team. There have to be trade-offs between on-road riding comfort and off-road capability. Jeep has done an outstanding job with the 2018 Jeep Wrangler in achieving those objectives. Unlike its predecessors, the new Wrangler has a supple ride with good wheel travel. This is not what owners of previous generation Wranglers experienced. The ride is so good, you would expect off-road capability to be sacrificed, but it is not.
Powertrain and 4×4 Choices
There are two powertrains available at launch. The base engine is the tried-and-true 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 285-horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The V6 provides plenty of grunt that Wrangler owners are accustomed to. The new premium engine is a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder mild hybrid with eTorque technology. The 4-cylinder has 270-horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The personality between the two is dramatically different. The V6 is solid and purposeful. The 4-cylinder turbo feels like it has more finesse. It is very responsive and revs willingly. Also, it is very quiet. Made in Italy and derived from the Alfa Romeo 4-cylinder found in the Guilia and Stelvio, the 4-cylinder is a very happy engine that will provide satisfying driving in all conditions. The 4-cylinder turbo will be a $1,000 option over the V6. Driving off-road, both were extremely capable.
Two transmissions are available on the V6 – an 8-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual. The 4-cylinder is automatic only. A diesel will be added to the lineup in 2019 and a plug-in hybrid in 2020.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler has a fully boxed frame that is lighter weight than its predecessor. There are several 4×4 choices. Command Trac is on the lower line Sport and mid-line Sahara models. The most capable Wrangler is the Rubicon that gets the Rock Trac 4×4 system. Rubicon also includes an electronic locking differential and front sway bar disconnect. At the press event in the Tucson, Arizona desert the off-road portion of the drive used Rubicon model Wranglers, but Jeep engineers said that a Sahara could also transverse the course with little problem. One defining characteristic of the Rubicon is the front fender height. To accommodate larger tires that many Wrangler owners fit to their vehicles, the front fenders are mounted two inches higher than the Sport or Sahara models.
Comfort and Convenience Technology
Gone are the days when a hard-core off-roader was a Spartan machine with few amenities. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler provides all the creature comforts and conveniences a buyer of modern vehicles have come to expect. Of course there is a center screen featuring FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system. Depending on model and equipment, the screen size is 5.0, 7.0 or 8.4 inches. The instrument cluster is available with a 7-inch TFT display that has over 100 ways to personalize it for the driver. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. The rear camera with dynamic grid lines is standard. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection is available. One thing missing that would have been a benefit to off-roaders is a 360 degree camera. In tight off-road situations without a spotter a 360-degree camera can help the vehicle maneuver between obstacles. Maybe as a running change.
Wrangler pricing ranges from $26,995 for a 2-door Sport ($3,000 higher than the base 2017 model) to $40,495 for a 4-door Rubicon. The center of mass will be the 4-door Sahara model that lists for $37,345. There is a $1,195 destination charge. So the new Wrangler is not cheap by any means, and Jeep expects to sell 250,000 worldwide each year, but given the significant upgrades to the product these prices seem reasonable. Of course, a fully optioned Rubicon can probably hit $50,000 or more that some proud buyer will be happy to pay to drive this ultimate off-roader.
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