2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
— A bright blue sky is the only thing visible through the
windshield. All I can hear is the screech of metal on stone as the
vehicle’s frame scrapes over boulders on a 60-degree slope in the
going exactly as it should in the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.
Wrangler is simultaneously the most capable off-road and quietest,
most comfortable on-road vehicle in a 75-year lineage that traces
directly to the original 1941 U.S. Army jeep.
on-road manners are great, and the things it does off-road are
mindboggling," analyst Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends said.
Wrangler goes on sale in the first quarter of 2018. Prices start at
$26,995 for a two-door and $30,495 for the four-door. The top
Rubicon model, the most capable off-roader in the Wrangler family,
goes for $36,995 for two-doors and $40,495 with four.
design is immediately recognizable. The new model offers hard and
soft-top that are easier to remove, and a new folding canvas power
hardtop on Sahara models of the four-door. The doors are removable
and the windshield folds flat onto the hood. The new design makes it
easier to accomplish both those tasks, making it likely more Jeep
owners will enjoy fully open driving.
inches, the four-door is 21.6 inches longer than the two-door. The
four-door’s wheelbase is 118.4 inches long, the two-door 96.8.
Both models are longer than the outgoing model, but more
maneuverable, with a smaller turning radius thanks to a wider track
and new electro-hydraulic steering gear. That’s a key stat for
off-roaders who navigate tight trails and rock fields.
engine is an updated version of Fiat Chrysler’s 285-hp 3.6L V6,
which produces 260 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission
is standard equipment, an eight-speed manual optional with the V6.
engine upgrade will surprise Jeep traditionalists on several fronts.
It’s a 2.0L four cylinder with a turbocharger and a mild hybrid
features could rankle hard-core Wrangler fans, who consider
themselves the guardians of Jeep’s heritage and core values. The
engine was developed alongside the Wrangler in FCA’s Auburn Hills
tech center, but it’s part of a global engine family that also
powers the Alfa Romeo Giulia sport sedan and Stelvio SUV.
270 hp, but more importantly, 295 lb-ft of torque, more than the V6,
and a much lower rpm – 3,000 versus 4,800 for the V6 – a
combination that should be welcome off-road, where torque is a
delivered plenty of power on road and off, accelerating confidently
in traffic and rolling through the desert with ease.
system consists of a 48-volt electric motor attached to the
crankshaft to reduce vibration in FCA’s notoriously rough
stop-start system, which shuts the engine off to save fuel at
traffic lights and when idling.
eight-speed automatic is the only transmission available with the
four-cylinder. FCA will build that engine in Termoli, Italy, and
Trenton, Michigan, about midway between FCA’s tech center north of
Detroit and the Wrangler assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio.
A 3.0L diesel
V6 will join the lineup in 2019.
is more civilized and comfortable than any Wrangler before it. The
tops of the doors are padded so you can lean on them, and the
armrests are long enough you can actually rest an arm on them. The
latest version of FCA’s excellent Uconnect infotainment system,
with 5-, 7- and 8.4-inch touchscreens.
How modern is
the interior? The 2018 Wrangler has five USB ports – as many as it
can hold passengers. Sure, one is just for charging, but based on
the Wrangler, USB count will be the next competitive battleground,
as the number of cup holders was for years.
The rear seat
and cargo area are both bigger than before.
roads, the 2018 Wrangler is far smoother and quieter than its
predecessor, thanks to an all-new structure uses high-strength steel
for a lighter, stronger frame. The two-door is 140 pounds lighter
than the predecessor. The four-door shed 200. Aluminum body panels,
including the hold and removable doors, contribute to the reduction.
is a revelation, more precise and steady than previous Wranglers,
but still tough enough for the most challenging off-road situations.
After about 30
miles on surface roads, I drove a Wrangler over a course strewn with
boulders, deep ruts, loose rock, steep grades and tight turns. It
met every challenge with ease.
It’s a new
standard for Jeep, the brand that has set the standard for off-road
vehicles since it was born 1941.
WRANGLER AT A GLANCE
3.6L V6 and 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl.
Power: V6: 285
hp @ 6,400 rpm, 260 @ 4,800 lb-ft of torque; 4-cyl.: 270 hp @ 5,250
rpm, 295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000x rpm
8-speed automatic or six-speed manual
economy rating: V6 – 18 mpg city/23 highway/20 combined. 4-cyl.,