Jeep’s Classic is Back, And quite Possibly Better Than Ever!
Today in the Bob Richards Blog we take a look at the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler. As you no doubt know, the Wrangler is directly descended from the WW2 military vehicle the marque takes its name from today, giving the Wrangler line in particular quite the ancestor to live up to. We’re not going to compare the two directly as the technology involved in a 1940’s military vehicle and its civilian relative from the new millennium are a world apart, but what has been passed down through the Wrangler line from the ‘original’ jeep is a reputation for off-road competency. From that reputation, a modern Jeep driver develops confidence and trust in the vehicle under them when they’re off-road, and harbors the feeling that whatever terrain may stand in the way, a Wrangler will get you through it. For us at Bob Richards that’s what matters today, that’s what every Wrangler needs to offer its driver if it is to be worthy of the name, and thus far over the last 70-plus years, each of the 2018 Wrangler’s forebears has done exactly that. Now we put the latest addition to that decades-old test, to see if it can continue the streak…
The new Wrangler offers a choice of two engines – there’s the trusty 3.6-liter V6 developing 285hp and 360 lb.ft. of torque, or you can go with a turbocharged 2-liter inline 4-cylinder that makes 270hp and 295 lb.ft. of torque – and thanks to the smaller engine’s E-Torque system that allows the engine to cut off when you are coasting or stopped, what you lose in outright performance against the V6 you should gain back in fuel economy. A 3-liter turbocharged diesel motor producing 260hp and 442 lb.ft. of torque should also be coming in 2019 for use in four-door Wrangler models, while a plug-in hybrid is also slated to join the lineup sometime in 2020. These engines are hooked up to an 8-speed automatic transmission by default, but if you opt for the V6 you also get the option of installing a manual gearbox and stick-shift.
The Wrangler’s styling hasn’t changed much in seven decades, and indeed the family resemblance between the 2018 version and its illustrious ancestor is still very much apparent. Harder to spot are several small tweaks that have been made – in areas that don’t detract from the quintessential ‘Jeep’ look of course – to improve aerodynamic performance and fuel efficiency. The figures we’ve seen say the new Wrangler will get 18MPG city and 23MPG highway, which means the new vehicle offers 1 extra MPG in the city and 2 on the highway when compared with the outgoing model. When it comes to off-road driving the vital statistics are equally impressive – the 2018 Jeep Wrangler has an approach angle of 44 degrees, a departure angle of 37 degrees and a breakover angle of 28 degrees, while ground clearance is 11 inches. Moving on to the drivetrain settings and options, as you’d expect the customary offerings of 2WD for dry pavement, 4-high for slippery surfaces and 4-low for off-roading are there, but now there’s also permanent 4WD available which allows you to easily select and de-select low-range as and when you need to. What’s more, on Rubicon models the 4WD system is specifically designed to excel at rock crawling, and to that end, it boasts a crawl ratio of 84-1.
Of course, there are other differences, but the best way to tell a new 2018 Wrangler from 2017 is probably to look at the roof, as along with classic ‘goes-with-everything’ black, tan cloth is once again an option on certain soft-top models. There’s also the ‘Sky top’, which is essentially a giant powered cloth roof, that gives both front and rear passengers that top-down experience. Hard-top options include the Freedom top which returns for another year, while Jeep claims that the standard hard roof can be removed in less than 5 minutes with just a Torx wrench (supplied in the car’s toolkit) and an extra pair of hands. In fact, Jeep has sought to make reconfiguring your vehicle easier to do in general – the number of bolts in the windshield assembly has been cut to 4 to make it easier to fold down, and it now uses a flat pane of glass, meaning that it doesn’t curve upwards at the edges when in that folded down position. Elsewhere, information decals on the doors will tell you things like the tools and bit sizes needed to remove them, and zips have been removed from side windows and the rear light on soft-tops. Motoring website ‘The Fast Lane Car’ posted a video to their Youtube channel in which they timed the process, and managed to get the roof off and the windshield folded down in just over 5 minutes.
Many other small improvements are the fruits of lessons learned and feedback earned at events such as the annual Easter Jeep Safari, where the company gets together with people who drive on and off-road, and of course live with their Jeep day in and day out – in the process uncovering things that you just can’t learn in the confines of the factory. The return of factory-installed grab handles this year after customers reported missing their presence in the prior model is a great example of this system at work, as are the measures are taken to stop the hood flutter drivers reported at speed, and the repositioning and redesign of the hood latches – they’re now mounted further forward and include a channel specifically designed to hold a winch cable.
The interior is also a marked improvement over previous Wrangler generations – retaining the durability and a certain level of utilitarianism required by the conditions in which Wranglers are designed to work, but the big news is that in 2018, the sacrifices that Wrangler owners had to make in the past to have that go-anywhere capability are no more. Now you can roam wherever you may like and still have all the entertainment, apps, connectivity and tools of a sedan, as for the first time Chrysler’s ‘UConnect’ system comes as standard across the Wrangler range with three different screen and software combinations being available. AM/FM and Sirius XM Satellite Radio are also included alongside Aux capability and Bluetooth. The final thing we’d like to mention is another great piece of foresight on Jeep’s part – as an option, they will provide you with 4 auxiliary switches that allow you to connect your aftermarket parts such as light bars, winches and more to a spot and a button that already exists in the center console. In our opinion they should be applauded for showing such understanding of what their drivers and fans want and going the extra mile to provide – but they’ve also built a phenomenal vehicle here, one well worthy of the Wrangler name, and the Bob Richards Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram team can’t wait to tell the CSRA’s Jeep drivers all about it from our dealership at 1666 Jefferson Davis Highway in Graniteville, SC, or online at www.bobrichardscdjr.com!