The Jeep Wrangler has been fully redesigned for 2018, the last one was launched 10 years ago and it has taken so long partly because the typical Jeep buyer doesn’t like change and partly because there was nothing wrong with the old car. To appease the core enthusiasts the looks have been gently updated rather than completely overhauled.
There have been some big changes under the lighter and stronger sheet metal though and the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited offers a range of improvements to ride and luxury levels too.
The Wrangler Unlimited has grown in dimensions and there is now an extra inch of legroom for rear seat passengers. The interior takes on a more modern tone but the centrally mounted touchscreen and new controls and switchgear still retain the rugged look and feel that is expected of a serious off-roader. Basic trim levels offer very little in the way of creature comforts but the seats are comfortable and supportive both up front and in the rear.
The cargo space has been increased too and with the rear seats folded you can fit a fair number of bulky items in the back.
The new Wrangler offers much-improved on-road ride quality and is now also easier to maneuver around thanks to a tighter turning circle. Off-road ability is aided by either part-time or available all-wheel-drive and ride-height is slightly higher which can aid in tackling off-road obstacles.
The steering and brake pedal feel have been improved too and the windshield and doors can be removed for some open air off-road excursions. With all the body panels in place the Wrangler is relatively quiet at highway speeds but wind noise does intrude the faster you go.
The engine available currently is the 3.6-liter V6 as found in the old Wrangler and makes the same 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque as before. You have a choice between a 6-speed manual and a new 8-speed automatic transmission. There is also a part-time all-wheel-drive setup or more capable full-time version with lockable diffs.
The performance is broadly similar to the previous generation Wrangler, the slight reduction in overall weight and the now standard stop/start system means that fuel economy levels have improved and the V6 Wrangler gets 17mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway regardless of the transmission option.
For those wanting a bit more power at highway speeds the upcoming 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline motor and 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine options may be worth waiting for. Both will offer more torque and quite likely better fuel economy figures too.
There are four trim levels available on the Unlimited, the Sahara trim is unique to these 4-door models.
The base Sport trim offers a 5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth audio streaming and Uconnect 3, cruise control, rearview camera and an 8-speaker audio system. It is quite a basic setup and the windows are manually winding, there is no central locking and the seats are manually adjusting.
The Wrangler has always been about superior off-road ability and to this end you get 17-inch steel wheels with all-season tires, skid plate shields for the transmission, fuel tank and transfer case. There is also a standard fitment engine oil cooler, 3 tow hooks, 180-amp alternator and hill start assist.
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.
The Sahara trim adds 18-inch alloys, 7-inch touchscreen with Uconnect 4 and side steps. There is also an available safety group and full-time all-wheel drive system option.
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 on the Rubicon trim 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.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has been updated to more accurately align with modern motorists’ requirements while still retaining its USP of being a very capable off-roader.
Visual changes are minimal and the base trim remains refreshingly basic, higher trims offer some welcome creature comforts and even more off-road capability. The Wrangler remains one of the very best picks in its segment and should definitely be on your shortlist.