by Adam Lynton
The venerable old Jeep Wrangler has received a full redesign for 2018, although at first glance you would be forgiven for thinking that nothing has changed.
However, under that iconic silhouette a number of important updates have been carried out and the Wrangler is still a rugged mud-plugger but now with a little more polish.
The Wrangler has grown in dimensions and the additional interior space is a welcome improvement. There is seating for four and while this is no luxury SUV, it is well built and the cabin and dashboard look far more modern than before.
As before, there is not very much cargo space although now the rear passengers have more leg room.
The biggest difference most shoppers will notice over the older Wrangler is the vastly improved on-road ride quality. It is now entirely possible to drive longer distances and the turning circle has been made smaller which aids tight maneuvers.
The engine on offer at launch is one of the few components that have been carried over and the 3.6-liter V6 makes the same 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque as before. A 6-speed manual and an 8-speed automatic transmission are available and of course all-wheel drive is standard fitment.
Performance levels are much the same as before which means adequate off-road ability with enough torque at lower engine speeds to surmount just about any obstacle. Highway driving is more truck-like, pre-planning is required to complete overtaking maneuvers although at city speeds the short gearing gives the Wrangler an eager feel.
A 2.0-liter turbocharged four with 270-hp and 295 lb-ft and a turbo diesel option will also become available which may provide better performance and reduced consumption figures. Currently the V6 Wrangler gets 17mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway with either transmission option.
The new Wrangler is available in three trim levels and starting with the base Sport trim you get a 5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth audio streaming and Uconnect 3, cruise control, rearview camera and an 8-speaker audio system. That is about it for the creature comforts as the windows are manually winding, the seats are covered in cloth with manual adjustments and there is no central locking.
The focus here is on effortless and rugged off-road ability and to this end you get 17-inch steel wheels with all-season tires, a transmission, fuel tank and transfer case skid plate shield, engine oil cooler, 3 tow hooks, 180-amp alternator, hill start assist and the Command-Trac 4WD system.
Available options include a 3-piece hardtop, all-terrain tires, rugged floor mats and a trailer towing package.
The Sport S trim adds air conditioning and allows access to available options such as the Technology Group (7-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity) Cold Weather Group (engine block heater and heated front seats and steering wheel) and a range of hard and soft tops.
Rubicon trim is for the serious off-roaders and includes the above equipment and adds 17-inch polished wheels shod with 33-inch all-terrain tires, Tru-Lok locking differentials both front and rear, Rock-Trac 4x4 system with rock crawling ability on manual models and an electronic front sway bar.
Available options include blind spot and cross path detection, LED foglamps and tail lamps, rear park assist system and an Electronic Infotainment System group which includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen, navigation system, SiriusXM subscription and a 9-speaker premium audio system. Keyless entry and leather seats are also on offer.
Same same but different, that just about sums up the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. The all-new model retains its pleasingly retro looks while offering some worthwhile updates under the skin.
Despite the added refinements it hasn't been water down to become yet another boulevard cruiser and the Wrangler remains above all else, a supremely capable off-roader. The refreshingly single-minded goal makes this new model just as desirable as its forebear.