Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
When all hell hits the fan it would be in your best interest to posses the keys to a Jeep, preferably the 2018 Wrangler. The goal is to get away swiftly and discretely in a 4×4 with the versatility to triumph any terrain that leads to salvation. That’s probably what the armed forces thought 75 years ago. As the story goes Willys-Overland’s beat out Bantam and Ford in 1941 as the principle supplier of the U.S. Army’s 1,500 go-anywhere and structurally rigid reconnaissance vehicles. Later the world would come to know this quintessential 4×4 as the Jeep.
Design changes for the 2018 Jeep Wrangler include a stronger and lighter frame, a more leveled hood, adjustment to the windshield (angled 6.5 degrees), larger windows, larger grille slots, larger lights, simpler top designs, advanced suspension upgrades, and much more. The Rubicon of course offers increased separation from its siblings and features an electronic sway-bar disconnect, body colored cage, removable outer bumper pieces for off-roading, and taller fenders to house the grander tires or lift kit.
If you happened to be an early adapter in 1987 when the Wrangler (YJ) was introduced you would currently go nuts over what the latest generation has to offer. In Tucson, Arizona this past week Automotive Rhythms was able to explore the aforementioned advancements that impressed in every category from highway driving and infotainment services to rock crawling and roof removal. The Jeep lifestyle is pretty adventurous and allows creative expression by way of family rediscoveries, weekend adventure trips, hiking, or simply rough riding through your favorite trails for a half day. Keep in mind Jeep does not launch a new Wrangler too often, typically once in a decade so you know the current generation is going to be something special for a very long time.
With so many design and mechanical advances I’m looking forward to showing up to the next Camp Jeep in a 2018 Rubicon with the largest set of tires Jeep outfits on a Wrangler at 33”. The BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 rubber features tread gap that is tightened so on-road feel is enhanced and helps with quieter and smoother drives. Yet, they still allow your utility vehicle to grapple and ride over rocks with ease. We were off-roading on serious courses in Arizona that looked impossible to accomplish. Yet, the 4×4 system worked seamlessly to complete the task along with tires that are designed for snow, mud, and rocks. Specifically, the KO2 is engineered with 20% stronger sidewalls due to CoreGard Technology which shields from sharp objects that can puncture and bruise. You will also accumulate more miles before swapping to a newer set with the KO2’s Interlocking Tread Design.
“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 powertrain options, more interior comfort, more safety and more technology, said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global.”
Sold in 150 countries the new Wrangler 2-door model is available as a Sport, Sport S, and Rubicon while the Wrangler 4-door is presented in four trims including the above trims and Sahara. Power comes from either of three engine choices. The base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is a Chrysler favorite with 285-horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque and performed honorably during my drive. The new 2-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline 4-cylinder with 270-horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque would be my engine of choice. It’s spunky, zippy, and strong. Moreover, the 2-liter is blessed with an e-Torque system with an electric motor used for start/stop fuel conservation and regenerative braking. A 3-liter EcoDiesel V6 is coming in 2019 with 260-horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. Either an 8-speed automatic or the new 6-speed manual can be paired with your engine. Between the two configurations the four-door is still preferred by a landslide with a 70% to 75% take rate. On trails the two-door is more maneuverable but bounces around more than the longer four door. Excluding the $1,195 destination fee pricing for a Wrangler is still premium:
- Two door Sport – $26,995
- Two door Rubicon – $36,995
- Four door Sport – 30,495
- Four door Sahara 37,345
- Four door Rubicon 40,495
Other stellar progressions are the simple techniques for top removal. For starters there is the Sky One-Touch powertop which retracts the cloth top back like a sunroof in about 15 seconds. Then there is the manual, Sunrider soft top minus the zippers in exchange for a tongue and groove system that is easy to unlatch and fold back. Jeep designed it with additional bows, side rails, and clock springs so one person could accomplish the task. Keep in mind the cloth option still attracts wind noise but since the fit is tighter it is not as loud as prior generations. I live in Maryland with snow so I would aim for the fiberglass hard top which can be removed in pieces. One person could detach the front two pieces but two people or the Mopar crane would be needed for the larger one-piece rear section. Of course you can still take off the doors and wash out the interior being that the utility has drain holes. Moreover, even with the use of lighter materials such as aluminum doors, hinges, hood, windshield frame, and fenders, as well as a 50% lighter swing gate built from magnesium, rigidity has been improved by 18%.
Inside, the Wrangler has been refined to simulate traditional SUVs. It begins with the thick, multipurpose steering wheel with great on center feel (available for the first time with heat) and ends with the 4th generation Uconnect with a 4x faster processor, touchscreen display, and pinch zoom. I’ve always said Uconnect is one of the better multimedia systems in the industry. The Wrangler is adorned with metal plating, rubbery, large dials with grip, elongated door armrests, New Lift-Assist handles under each door, multiple USB slots up front and in the rear, and an available 9-speaker Alpine audio system. My only gripe is that the window switches are positioned on the center stack and not on the doors.
For those that like it dirty the Wrangler can swim in 30” of water and utilizes Hill Decent when engaged in 4-low mode. Your Rubicon will have a departure angle of 37 degrees and approach angle of 43.9 degrees. The wheelbase is longer on both four and two doors, skid plates are strategically placed in positions to protect the underbody, the turning radius has been improved by decreasing it by a little over a foot, the track is wider, the next-generation Dana axles are stiffer with wider diameters, and both Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4×4 systems have been enriched. Also expect to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Did I fail to mention Automotive Rhythms’ Leon Brittain is a Jeep Lifer? I’ll let him tell it! “I’m a proud Jeep owner now on my third Wrangler. These vehicles have been a staple of my foundation during my single 2-door days and current family of five lifecycle. I enjoy the spirit of adventure Wranglers offer and the go-anywhere, confident attitude they present. And now I get to experience that in a level of comfort that would make my first JK jealous, while the kids love climbing “in” and “on top” of the Wrangler as if it’s there 4-wheeling playground.”
With legendary traits the newfangled Wrangler’s cult-like following will absolutely love the 2018 model and continue to grow its reputation astronomically. Want more? Then tap into Mopar who offers hundreds of Jeep Performance Parts and accessories for pimping out your ride.