The 2018 Jeep Wrangler

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler skips over the on-road part of the driving test, and heads straight for the hills.
The Jeep Wrangler has endured on the road and on the trail, decades after it was conceived as a military all-purpose vehicle. It’s spawned its own cult, It’s nice to drive on public roads, but get some dirt in its squirmy tire treads, and the Jeep comes into its own.

Sold in Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon editions, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler is as aerodynamic as a barn door, the Wrangler silhouette is shorthand for off-roading. It’s still recognizable as the same World War II-vintage shape, though it’s become faintly progressive with LED lighting and other minor details. The core still is intact, from the fold-down windshield to exterior hinges for the removable doors. The convertible SUV has a modern and useful interior by Jeep standards.

Every Wrangler has a 285-horsepower V-6 with lots of low-end torque. It shuffles it through a 5-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual, and accelerates crisply into interstate traffic. Off-road, it’s an entirely different story. There’s nothing quite competitive with the Wrangler, from its skid-plated underbody to its extreme approach and departure angles, its choice of axle ratios, its wide palette of tires and top designs, all of which compile into an unparalleled off-road ride. Electronic controls crop up where they make sense, in the form of hill-start assist and sway-bar disconnect. It’s an extraordinary vehicle for those extraordinary circumstances. No wonder it has its own cult.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler highlights its heritage, while it carves out a modern, usable interior.
Civilians look at the Jeep Wrangler from last century, and from today, and see little change. At the same time, Jeep enthusiasts can catalogue the migration from squared headlights to round ones, year by year. In between these camps, the Wrangler’s shape defies age.

Rife with military heritage, the 2018 Wrangler doesn’t look like anything else on the road. It’s an unmistakable outline with flat panels, boxed fenders, and a traditional seven-slot grille. Function still rules the way the Wrangler looks, from its external door hinges to its removable doors to its fold-down windshield.

That doesn’t mean fun gets boxed in, though. Easter eggs abound in the latest design. There’s a Willys silhouette painted into the wheel pockets, one etched into the windshield’s edge mask, and Jeep icons show up in the lighting.

Over the years, it’s the interior of the Wrangler that’s changed most, and that’s mostly a good thing. The drab, hard-plastic dashboard and trim of a few years ago are now history, elbow rests and other areas have soft-touch padding, and there’s interior courtesy lighting underneath the instrument panel and in the cupholder areas. The look and feel is still brief, upright, and businesslike. The instrument panels and door panels are nicely contoured, and details are outfitted with bezels or given a machined look.

 

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler

A 3.6-liter V-6 powers every Jeep Wrangler. It’s a point of modernity a vehicle conceived in the early 20th century. In the Wranger it churns out 285 horsepower and 260-pound-feet of torque, with all the low-end torque required by hardcore off-roaders, with plenty of stretch for higher-speed operation on pavement. Jeep quotes 0-60 mph times for two-door Wranglers at 7.7 seconds when equipped with an automatic transmission, and it delivers that in fairly fuss-free manner.

The engine’s coupled to a 5-speed automatic, an older design that’s a legacy from the days of DaimlerChrysler. Firm shifts at higher speeds go more smoothly under lighter acceleration and lower speeds. The 6-speed manual vibrates through its shift lever, has long throws, and long pedal travel–and it’s long on the kind of traditional appeal the Wrangler’s built upon.

The gear ratios are very tall regardless of whether you choose the automatic or the manual; for instance, a base automatic Wrangler only has to shift once during a 0 to 60 mph run with the 3.21:1 ratio. A low 4.10:1 ratio is available in the Rubicon off-road model.

It’s solid and capable where it counts to the people who love and drive them between trees, on skylines, from ridge to ridge.
The Wrangler has lots of ground clearance, terrific low-range prowess over all kinds of surfaces, and a rugged underbody with protective skid plates. Manual versions can be started in gear when 4-Low is selected, useful for climbing hills. There’s even a dash of modern technology with its four-wheel-drive system: an electric disconnect for the sway bar grants the Wrangler lots of wheel travel and articulation without turning it into an off-road mess.

At the Rubicon level, the Wrangler has all the critical numbers: 44.3 degrees of approach angle, 25.4 degrees breakover, and 40.4 degrees of departure angle. In the Wrangler’s particular universe, those are the performance numbers that really matter.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler

The 2018 Wrangler comes in two body styles, with two or four doors. Both have two rows of seats, but the 20.6-inch-longer Wrangler Unlimited has more usable rear seats, as well as more cargo space.

The front seats have fairly thick bolsters and are surrounded by enough space. Unlimiteds have much better space, and those back seats have enough support stitched in for off- and on-road comfort, The rear seat can be folded down or removed entirely.

Acceptable cargo space in two-door Wranglers grows to generous space in the Unlimited. Two-doors have 56.5 cubic feet of space when the rear seat is folded down. The Unlimited has 31.5 cubic feet behind the back seat, or 71.6 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

The Wrangler’s removable tops are one of the key reasons it’s still so popular. The Freedom Top gives a fairly durable roofless ride with less fuss than the soft top, which requires patience to remove or put back in place.

The cabin has its charms, like side doors with pull-strap closers, and some soft-touch trim on the dash. It still can be hosed out after an off-road adventure.

Modern amenities are mostly off the menu but the Jeep Wrangler covers all its off-road bases.
The Jeep Wrangler comes in Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon trims. In each, its features and options are focused intently on delivering off-road performance, while modern creature comforts take a back seat.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler

Every Jeep Wrangler comes with a folding soft top, floor mats, cloth seats, a fold-away rear bench seat, removable front doors, an 8-speaker sound system with satellite radio and a USB port. The Unlimited also gets standard air conditioning. On the off-road front, even these Sport models gets skid plates, tow hooks front and rear, hill-start assist, and a part-time four-wheel-drive system, Command-Trac.

Sport S Wranglers get 17-inch wheels and on the two-door, air conditioning. Jeep gives the Wrangler Sahara standard power windows, locks, and mirrors; satellite radio; 18-inch wheels; remote keyless entry; automatic headlights; and side steps.

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon comes with disconnecting front sway bars, a heavy-duty front axle, a 4.10:1 rear axle ratio, the Rock-Trac four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing, rock rails, locking front and rear differentials, and 17-inch alloy wheels with 32-inch off-road tires.

Options are where the Wrangler dives off in a thousand interesting directions, Everyday option packages bundle power features, leather front seats, 9-speaker Alpine audio, LED headlights, remote start, heated front seats, and chrome and black trim.

Jeep also sells upgraded audio with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, navigation, and hard-drive music storage. There’s a 552-watt Alpine audio system on the options list, automatic climate control, and Bluetooth with streaming audio, too.

On the off-road angle, Jeep will fit half doors, lower axle ratios, BF Goodrich KO2 tires, and a limited-slip rear differential. Opt for the trailer tow group and the Wrangler gets a Class II hitch receiver and a 4-pin adapter, with the choice of a 3.73 or 4.10 axle ratio.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler

The standard soft top can be swapped out for the Sunrider soft top–it has a sunroof panel that flips back–or the Freedom Top with its three-piece hard-panel construction.

A trio of special editions continue for the new model year, but with its exterior add-ons, top selection, paint and trim, the Wrangler in your head is pretty easy to make into the Wrangler in your possession.

 

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