Review: 2018 Jeep Wrangler

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posted on January 2, 2018
2018jeepwrangler_lead.jpg

Jeep has just released the all-new 2018 Wrangler lineup with a comforting connection to the past and a practical emphasis on extreme performance. There was much at stake with Jeep’s launch. The company could have gone the more comfortable route, or headed up a boulder-strewn mountain. In reality, Jeep did both with a heaping pile of fun and practicality thrown into the mix.

With a long list of performance features to discuss, I’ll just cut to chase. You can now buy an entry level Wrangler that has been factory modified for extreme off-road performance.  A stock Wrangler comes with a newly configured suspension that embraces a BF Goodrich 33-inch tire and you can increase that tire size up to 35 inches. That’s with no modifications, right off the showroom floor.

Simply stated, the off-road performance is truly remarkable. With the exception of the Rubicon, these stock features will open up a world of backcountry access that hunters and shooters would have only experienced with major changes to the vehicle. The steering has tightened up with nearly a foot less in radius. The suspension is still firm enough to feel what’s below, yet comforting enough to make the drive through town.

Safety features include a complete roll cage that provides a safe cocoon even when the windshield is down. At final count, there are 75 active and passive safety features. These include blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, and a rear-view backup camera. Connectivity has taken a giant leap forward. USB ports are scattered throughout the interior with quick connections to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The fourth generation UConnection Technology sports notably quicker start up times and improved processing. A 7-inch screen is standard, and can be upgraded to an 8.4-inch screen.

The seats have a smart vertical adjustment strap. The leather finish is soft to the touch and durable. For a major clean up after the trail or a surprise a rainstorm, the carpets can be easily removed. Other changes include aluminum and composite mixes in key parts of the truck including the hood, doors, and the tailgates.

The visual exterior is a well thought out, paying homage to the days of old. The design sports improved fuel economy, wind resistance, and noise control. The new front grill can actually be called iconic in its visual statement. One of the joys across the line, includes the ability for almost every Wrangler model to strip naked outdoors—with a fold down windshield, removable doors, and a partially or a completely removable top. The fold down windshield allows for a special connection to the outdoors. Historically, the fold down windshield in World War II was to improve shipping and keep the glass from blowing out from the pressure blast of the rear mounted M2 Browning machine guns. Today you can just enjoy the view.

For 2018, there are two engine choices with the 3.6L Pentastar V-6 and the all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with efficient eTorque technology. Both engines have Engine Stop/Start—a shut down idle mode. Look for a much anticipated 6-cylinder diesel for 2019.

The two transmission offerings include new the eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. The extremely capable Command-Trac 4x4 system with the 2.72:1 crawl ratio standard on Sport and Sahara models will definitely impress. The Rock-Trac 4x4 system with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1 and Tru-Lok locking differentials are standard on Rubicon models making them factory boulder crawlers.

In a future world of self driving vehicles, the first thought I had driving the new Wrangler was just how connected I felt to the road and the trail. It’s not going out on a limb to say that which ever model you choose, the new Jeep Wrangler line is the most capable stock off-road vehicle on the market today.

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