There are few cars more well-known than the Jeep Wrangler. Its instantly recognizable design has morphed over the years, but it still maintains its quintessential Jeep look. The Wrangler is all-new for 2018 and the folks at Jeep gave it a styling update, new engines, and new features designed to cater to legions of Wrangler fans.
This isn’t the kind of car designers can go nuts with and change completely. The Jeep Wrangler can’t suddenly start looking like a whole new Jeep, so instead there are little tweaks that make it more modern without losing its signature style.
There’s still a seven-slot grille, but with new headlights on either side that bump into the outermost slots. The windows are larger for improved visibility. Jeep also gave it more traditional door handles, which is a welcome change. The old style was tricky, especially for kids, but the new door handles are easy for any one to operate. It’s a small change, but it’s one that makes a big improvement.
Jeep upgraded the interior so it’s more comfortable with more storage. There are several spots in the center console perfect for smartphones and the door pockets are longer, so you can stow more gear. If you plan on taking the doors off, it’s easier now thanks to lift-assist handles that make them a breeze to carry.
The interior is more comfortable, especially when it comes to ride quality. The Wrangler has always been an off-road champ, but on-road was a different story. Put it on the pavement and the last generation was no fun. The new Jeep Wrangler is quieter, smoother, and has sharper handling. The Wrangler is finally a car you don’t have to simply tolerate for your daily commute. Now you can enjoy the drive to work. Don’t panic. Its off-road prowess is still intact. Skid plates, tow hooks, and four-wheel drive will take you wherever you want to go without hesitation.
Anyone who drove the old soft top will be thrilled with what Jeep did to the new one. No more zippers to struggle with when it comes time to put that top back on. Instead, there are retainers that let you slide the side and rear windows off and on in seconds. If you were a fan of flipping down the windshield, but not the umpteen bolts it took release it, then you’ll be happy to hear it’s now only four bolts and you’re done.
The fourth generation of Uconnect comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easy smartphone connectivity and there’s the option for an 8.4-inch touchscreen. The Wrangler keeps you connected with two USB ports up front, two in the rear, and multiple 12-volt outlets. You might be venturing where there are no roads, but you can now easily stay connected while you’re out there.
A 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel with 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque is coming in 2019. Right now, you have your choice of a 3.6-liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque or a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder with 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. We’ve drive both and found these two engines responsive and smooth. The V6 doesn’t disappoint, but the turbocharged 4-cylinder is noticeably more aggressive. If you’re looking for a more powerful, responsive drive, then this is the engine for you. If you want a manual transmission, however, then your only choice is the V6, which offers a choice of an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual.
There’s a somewhat dizzying ten Wrangler trims from which to choose. The base, two-door Wrangler Sport starts at $23,995 while the top, four-door Rubicon Red starts at $42,945. It’s a lot to figure out when it comes time to go shopping, but that variety means there’s a version of the Jeep Wrangler that’s just right for you.
The all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler hits the mark on all fronts. It manages to take a timeless vehicle and update its styling just enough to keep it modern without losing its character. There are loads of small changes throughout that make it more appealing and easier to live with in everyday driving, and it has a range of engine choices to suit various needs. It’s the same Jeep Wrangler you always loved and at the same time it’s a whole new Jeep Wrangler to fall in love with all over again.