Jeep Wrangler: Once upon a time, Jeepers had to sacrifice comfort and tech for a cool ride with rugged looks—but that’s no longer the case.
- Year, make, model: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4
- Engine: 3.6-liter V6 with 285 horsepower
- Seating capacity: Five
- Car seat anchors: Two
- EPA-estimated MPG (as tested): 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. (19 mpg combined)
- Price (as tested): $37,343 ($52,235)
- Related vehicles we’ve tested: Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, Jeep Grand Cherokee
- In a nutshell: There’s not much to say about the iconic Jeep Wrangler that hasn’t been said before. It’s capable, it’s charming, and it’s quite pricey nowadays. However, folks willing to fork out big bucks for the newest iteration of the Wrangler will be rewarded with severely improved driving dynamics, refined looks, and a variety of tech, safety, and luxury features that award the Wrangler the #1 spot in a segment of one.
Our Time Behind the Wheel
The Jeep Wrangler has been on sale for 32 years now, and although most would look at it and think it’s still the same boxy thing it’s always been, that really couldn’t be further from the truth. For 2018, the Wrangler is all new and better than before. The new “JL” generation rides on a new chassis, new body, new interior, and even offers all-new four-cylinder and diesel drivetrains. Inside, it mimics its FCA siblings by offering a Uconnect infotainment system, a heated steering wheel, heated seats, and safety systems like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross path detection and rearview camera with trailer assist.
Perhaps the most noteworthy characteristic of the new Wrangler is its ease of use. A few weeks before driving the new JL I had a chance to drive the outgoing generation while visiting Newfoundland, Canada, and the differences in ride quality and overall dynamics are staggering. The cabin of the JL is quieter, better built, and in the case of our Unlimited Sahara trim: wrapped in leather. Our hands and butts were thankful for the heated amenities while the color-matched hardtop kept the cabin warm—unlike the older hard and soft tops that leaked air and were noisy and terrible at maintaining a constant temperature. The new Uconnect 8.4-inch screen is, as usual, a breeze to use, and the ergonomics around the cabin are on-point. Like before, the window switches are relocated to the center console because the doors are removable, but it’s just a matter of time until you get used to that.
Once you get over your shins being smacked by the awkwardly placed running boards as you get into the car, or getting your nice dress pants covered in mud by them, the Jeeping experience in the new JL is top notch. Driving around town is effortless and I’d dare say the steering is smooth and rich with feedback. The V6 engine in our test model was a joy to drive and offered plenty of power at all speeds and even produced a lovely exhaust note.
When it comes to family friendliness, the Jeep Wrangler boasts plenty of room for the kiddos and all of their belongings. The trunk boasts 73.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than enough for the average trip to the grocery store and enough to pack four carry-on rolling suitcases and a couple of weekend bags. The Wrangler also plays the part with plenty of cupholders and USB charging ports.
During our time behind the wheel, we put on plenty of miles on busy downtown streets and open highways where we appreciated, even more, the Wrangler’s versatility. Heck, even the fuel economy was a pleasant surprise.
Unfortunately, our tester’s price was simply off-putting. While the new Jeep Wrangler looks cool, drives good, and offers the refinement and amenities that its predecessors lack, it’s still a G.I. Joe car with removable doors and foldable windshield. In other words, Jeep has turned the Wrangler into a toy that can be driven daily, but it’s still a toy. Considering there are higher-spec and more expensive trims in the Wrangler lineup, it’s crazy to think that one can spend $60,000 on a civilized off-roader. That being said, maybe I’m just a bit mad I can’t afford one.