The Re-Birth Of A Legend: The All-New 2018 Jeep Wrangler

When Jeep announced they would be redesigning and replacing their top selling Jeep Wrangler JK platform that has been around for the past ten years, we knew it would be a tough task to build a worthy replacement for it. Since its release in 2007, the Wrangler JK and JKU (Unlimited) have sold like hot cakes, with over two million units being sold worldwide. With such a huge following behind them, especially in the off-road world, we knew it would be hard to beat when Jeep announced they would be build a new generation of Wrangler for 2018 on a new “JL” branded platform. How similar would it be to the hugely loved JK? Would it be totally different? Those are questions everyone has been wondering.

Over the past few months, Jeep has been releasing small teaser photos and videos to build the hype on the new Wrangler. Finally, on Wednesday November 29th, they officially released the new 2018 Wrangler JL to the public at the New York International Auto Show. The all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler builds on its legendary Jeep history with an unmatched combination of off-road capability, authentic Jeep design and open-air freedom with added advanced fuel-efficient power trains, superior on- and off-road dynamics, and a host of innovative safety and advanced technology features new for 2018.

“Jeep has always represented the ultimate in capability and open-air freedom, and our all-new 2018 Wrangler protects that important legacy and takes it into the future,” said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global. “The all-new Wrangler is instantly recognizable as a Jeep, staying true to the original, yet it is better in every way – delivering even more rugged capability, more ride comfort, more fuel efficiency courtesy of several advanced power train options, more interior comfort, more safety and more technology.”

When looking at the new 2018 versus the previous JK platform, you’ll notice plenty of differences on the exterior. While the general shape is still the same, almost every aspect of the exterior styling has been massaged and changed in some way. The 2018 Wrangler’s new exterior design is still bold and rugged as expected from a Jeep and features a lowered beltline with larger windows for better outward visibility; which comes in handy on tight off-road trails. Like every other Jeep product, the legendary seven-slot grille is displayed proudly on the front end but has been slightly changed with both of the outer grille slats intersecting with the headlights; apparently paying homage to the Jeep CJ. The top of the grille has been gently swept back for improved aerodynamics.

On both the Sahara and Rubicon models, available LED headlamps and fog lamps offer crisp white lighting. These models feature daytime running lights that now form a halo around the outside perimeter of the headlights, and standard LED forward turn signals are positioned on the front of the wheel flares versus the JK’s small dual round lights on the grille. From behind, the traditional square tail lamps are now hour-glass shaped and feature available LED lighting.

The windshield has been angled back more for improved aerodynamics and features a new four bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame to allow the windshield to fold down quickly and easily. A new header bar now connects the A-pillars and stays in place even when the windshield is folded down. This allows the rear view mirror to remain in place even with the windshield folded. We own a 2016 Wrangler in our fleet and we must say, the basically flat windshield on it is an absolute magnet for rocks. Just daily driving over the past two years has amounted to over ten rock chips on the windshield. With this new angled back windshield, we can only hope it will be more resilient to rocks.

If you look closely, you’ll notice the fender flares have been raised higher up on the body to allow for larger tires to be added without having to hack apart the fender flares like on the JK platform. The two-piece body-color fender flares with a black lower insert are standard on the Sahara and available on Rubicon models. New lightweight, high-strength aluminum doors now feature the Torx bit tool size stamped directly onto the hinge to eliminate guessing which tool size is needed to remove the doors.

New for 2018, Jeep has finally added an option we’ve all been suggesting for years; a power retracting soft top. The all-new easy-to-use Sky One-Touch power top retracts the full-length soft top with a push of a button and will available in the second quarter of 2018. Both the Wrangler Sahara and Rubicon models share a body-color hardtop option and lighter Freedom top panels and improved latches enable a quicker removal and installation of the hardtop. Dozens of different door, top and windshield combinations allow for endless configuration possibilities. A new factory half-door design will be available starting in 2019. We’ll be curious to see if Jeep finally fixed the ever famous water leak problem the bulk of JK platform vehicles face. Overall, the exterior has been rounded off for better streamline aero dynamics.

The interior on the new 2018 Wrangler is where you will see the biggest change as basically everything has been redesigned for the new platform. A hand-wrapped instrument panel features a soft-touch surface with accent stitching on Sahara models. Functional features including climate and volume control knobs, media charging and connectivity ports and Engine Stop Start (ESS) control are all laid out nicely for quick recognition and are easily within reach of the front-seat occupants. Inboard and outboard circular HVAC vents are surrounded by a platinum chrome bezel. A redesigned center console houses the also redesigned gear shifter, transfer case and parking brake handles. New for 2018 is a push-button starter featuring a weather-proof surround. No longer will you have to put the key into the ignition.

Cloth or leather-contoured seats feature accent stitching as well as adjustable bolster and lumbar support. Like the past JK models, available comfort options include heated front seats but new for 2018 is a heated steering wheel. We always wondered why Jeep never offered it on the previous JK platform when lowered priced Jeep models had it. Welcome to 2018 Jeep; nice of you to finally catch up with the times.

The vinyl-wrapped door panels are soft to the touch and the arm rests have been lengthened for better comfort. New Lift-Assist handles under each door armrest feature an integrated pull-cup design that makes door removal quicker and easier than ever. Convenience features include passive entry with Keyless Go. A brand new LED instrument cluster replaces the very outdated dot-matrix display found on the JK platform. Once again; nice of you to finally catch up with the times Jeep. This all new cluster features a 3.5- or an available 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) information LED display. The 7-inch LED display allows the driver to configure information in more than 100 ways including current media being played, tire pressure, or digital speed readout. Integrated buttons on the steering wheel control audio, voice, and speed functions and allow the driver to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

A 7.0-inch or an available 8.4-inch touchscreen houses the fourth-generation Uconnect system and now sits prominently atop the center stack. The fourth-generation Uconnect system enhances the user interface and system performance with quicker start up times and improved screen resolution. Lower model Wrangler Sports get a 5.0-inch touchscreen standard. Standard with the Uconnect 7.0 or 8.4NAV systems is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 2018 Wrangler is packed full of safety and security features such as Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, ParkView rear backup camera (another Wrangler first), electronic stability control with electronic roll mitigation and four standard air bags. Two USB ports up front and two in reach of occupants in the back seat connect to the media center. Standard 12-volt accessory outlets are located throughout and a 115-volt AC outlet is available to power select three-pronged home electronics.

While we honestly like the newly redesigned interior, we can’t help but wonder how long all of the fancy buttons and electrical equipment will last with those that take their Wrangler off road. Plenty of times we have seen JK Wranglers with the entire dash board and interior coated in mud, dirt and water. We’ll be curious to see how long it will be before people start having electrical issues with these.

For 2018, the all-new Wrangler delivers legendary off-road capability courtesy of two advanced 4×4 systems. For the first time in the Wrangler’s history, a two-speed transfer case with full-time four-wheel drive and a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio is available on Sahara models. This new Selec-Trac full-time two-speed transfer case is intuitive and allows the driver to set it and forget it, while constantly sending power to the front and rear wheels. The Command-Trac 4×4 system features a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio and next-generation solid Dana front and rear axles with a 3.45 rear axle ratio.

On the Wrangler Rubicon, a Rock-Trac 4×4 system features heavy duty next-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard as are Tru-Lok locking differentials. The Wrangler Rubicon models also offer improved articulation and total suspension travel versus the previous generation with help from an electronic sway-bar disconnect. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, the Wrangler Rubicon has an impressive and improved crawl ratio of 84.2:1, and 77.2:1 on Rubicon models equipped with the new eight-speed automatic transmission. Both Command-Trac and Rock-Trac systems offer full-time torque management, enabling optimal grip in low-traction conditions. An available Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential provides extra torque and grip during slippery, low-traction situations, such as driving over sand, gravel, snow or ice.

To protect critical vehicle components while on the trail such as the fuel tank, transfer case and automatic transmission oil pan, the 2018 Wrangler employs four skid plates and bars. The Rubicon models benefit from the use of heavy gauge tubular steel rock rails to prevent potential body damage inflicted while out bush whacking. For 2018, the Wrangler continues to utilize the proven five-link coil suspension configuration. Its front suspension features a lateral control arm and four longitudinal control arms. Full-width track bars made of forged steel control lateral movement of the axle with minimal angle change during suspension travel. The roll center height has been raised and the spring rates have been re-tuned to provide a comfortable ride when traveling around town. The five-link rear suspension features two upper and two lower forged steel control arms for longitudinal control, and a track bar for lateral axle control. The shocks have been re-tuned and demonstrate optimum balance between on-road handling and the off-road capability you’ve come to expect from a Jeep.

For the first time in a Wrangler, multiple engine choices are now available. FCA’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 and an all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder join the Wrangler lineup alongside the battle tested 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine that has been upgraded for 2018.

The all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with eTorque technology is rated at 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque and mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Yes, the Wrangler finally gets an eight-speed! About damn time. The all-new eTorque system improves fuel economy, launch performance, and driver comfort during start/stop operations. The eTorque system’s hybrid functions include auto stop/start, electric power assist, extended fuel shut-off, transmission shift management, intelligent battery charging and regenerative braking.

Both the engine and fuel flow may be turned off during stops, coasting or when the engine is decelerating. The all-new 2.0-liter features a twin-scroll, low-inertia turbocharger with an electronically actuated waste gate for exceptional responsiveness and performance, even while crawling over difficult terrain. The turbo is mounted directly to the cylinder head to improve durability and a dedicated cooling circuit lowers the temperature of the intake air, throttle body and turbocharger.

Back for 2018 is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine that was used in the later model JK Wranglers and delivers 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Like the new 2.0-liter, the 3.6 now features Engine Stop-Start (ESS) as standard equipment. An all-new six-speed manual transmission is standard on all Wrangler models equipped with the 3.6-liter and the new-to-Wrangler eight-speed automatic transmission is optional.

Coming out in 2019 for the Wrangler 4-door models is the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine. This new-to-Wrangler power plant produces 260 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque! Like the other engines, Engine Stop-Start (ESS) is standard. The eight-speed automatic transmission is standard and is designed to handle the increased torque output. The EcoDiesel V6 implements new turbocharger technology with a low-friction bearing designed for low end and transient performance.

With all of the new-to-Wrangler features on the new 2018, many of us JK platform owners can’t help but wonder if they held off putting these features on the newer JKs just to save them all for the new JL platform. It’s a little bit of a kick in the teeth seeing all of these features we’ve been suggesting for years all of a sudden pop up at once on a new design. That being said, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler 2-door model is available in three different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S and Rubicon. Wrangler 4-door models are available in four different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon. Pricing, colors or availability have not been announced yet.

The legend has evolved. Introducing the All-New 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

Posted by Jeep on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '71 Charger R/T, '71 Super Bee, '73 Duster, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '13 Ram 3500. Cody can truly and proudly say that he is a true Mopar nut in love with all types of Mopars!

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