The modern automobile industry is an industry that prides itself on reinvention and revolution. With ever-increasing technology come ever-increasing systems and advancements in cars. In this, however, the Jeep Wrangler is an anomaly. Manufactured for Jeep since 1986 and now onto its fourth generation, the Wrangler has always stayed close to its roots, opting to keep its client base happy rather than trying to reinvent the wheel (literally).
The evolution of the Jeep Wrangler can be plotted in a straight line, without too many deviations. Every new generation has some minor changes and tweaks, but the overall design and structure of the vehicle remain faithful to the 1986 original. With staying faithful comes higher demand—the production line at Jeep’s Toledo, Ohio assembly facility has workers working overtime to satisfy the great demand that these Jeeps bring.
The saying “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” holds true here. The Wrangler is a cash cow for Jeep, and there’s no reason to change its principle four-wheel, all-terrain design in order to satisfy a new century of buyers. We predict the Wrangler will stick to its roots for many more iterations, staying the iconic car we all know and love.
That being said, there are some differences between the former Wrangler JK from 2007 and the new Wrangler JL of 2018. Eleven years of advancements will do that to any industry, and the automobile industry is no exception. So, here are 19 things you’ll want to know about the new Jeep Wrangler before buying one.
First, let’s talk about the things that won’t change—namely, the engine. The new 2018 JL Wrangler will still use Chrysler Fiat’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 as default, which has been the engine of choice since 2012 after it took over for the heavily ridiculed and frowned-upon 3.8-liter. But that’s where the familiarity ends.
Even though the new engine seems like a carryover, with the same output of 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, it also will give greater mileage, increasing 2 mpg city and 3 mpg highway.
A new 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder turbocharged engine with 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque is available on the options list. And on the 2019 four-door Wranglers, exclusively, will be a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 with 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque.
A plug-in hybrid-electric version of the vehicle will be available in 2020.
The new JL will be a bit longer and wider than any model before it. The two-door Wrangler has grown by 2.8 inches in total length, while the four-door will be 3.8 inches longer. Also, the wheelbases are stretched 1.4 inches on the two-door and 2.4 inches on the four-door. The overall length of the two-door will now be 166.8 inches, and the four-door will be 188.4 inches, both including the spare tire on the tailgate.
In terms of width, the new JL bodies are just 0.2 inches wider, but the wheels are now further apart, with an extra 2.5 inches of track width. Overall, the wheelbase is 96.8 inches on the two-door, and the four-door has an axle expanse of 118.4 inches.
The main reason for the overall growth of the Wrangler is that every piece of glass in the JL is larger than that of the previous Wrangler.
The most rugged JL Wranglers will now have steel bumpers, and the front will accommodate a Warn winch. Not surprisingly, this is to increase the safety efficiency of the Wrangler and to give it an overall classier and stronger appearance. Consumers and critics have complained that the Jeep JK bumper was just not as versatile as they would've liked, especially if you wanted to wheel the rig.
So, with these new steel bumpers, it should become easier to tow and pull the vehicle out of any sticky situation within minutes, without having to call for a tow truck. This is something that any off-roading enthusiast should be very excited about, especially if he's ever encountered a situation where his Jeep got stuck.
On top of that, the bumpers will also be 2 inches higher than before.
The fourth-generation Wrangler off-road vehicle was officially unveiled at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 29, 2017, with the new name of the vehicle being the “JL.” The production of the vehicles began that November, and they first went on sale in January 2018. It’s been 11 long years since the introduction of the “JK” Wrangler in 2007, the third generation of Jeep Wranglers. The new name is simply one letter further down the alphabet than the older generation model: Jeep-L, as opposed to Jeep-K.
The production of the JL will overlap with the production of the JK, at least until mid-2018.
The debut advertisement on television for the JL, titled “Jeep Jurassic,” took place during Super Bowl LII, which reenacted the classic chase scene between a T-Rex and Jeff Goldblum in a Jeep Wrangler. Now, however, the tables are turned, with Jeff chasing the dinosaur!
To help with the engine’s improved fuel economy, the new Wrangler JL will come equipped with an Aisin D478 six-speed manual transmission as its standard affair. There is, however, the option of replacing that with an 850RE Torqueflite eight-speed automatic transmission, which debuted in the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2) and which replaced the older Torqueflite 845RE model.
The eight-speed automatic tranny will feature a traditional shifter. The eight-speed will be paired with the 2.0-liter turbocharged Chrysler Hurricane engine that was mentioned earlier.
This new engine features a “mild hybrid” system called “eTorque” that helps improve fuel economy and off-road performance. The 2.0-liter engine is the only gas engine offered in Europe, while in North America, that particular engine will have late availability.
The Jeep Wrangler has always been known for its awesome capability to rock-climb, drive over unpaved roads, drive through shallow riverbeds, etc. Now, the new JL will have better climbing angles than ever before—and some of these angles are astounding even the most critical analysts.
The JK became the benchmark for approach, departure, and break-over angles, which are what dictate how steep an obstacle is. While the JK had a 42.2-degree approach, a 32.3-degree departure, and a 25.8-degree break-over, Jeep proclaims that the JL has a 44-degree approach, a 37-degree departure, and a 27.8-degree break-over. As you can see from the picture above, that angle looks damn near impossible, but Jeep claims that the JL will be able to conquer it, whether “it” is rock or slate or gravel! Also, don’t worry about the standard start/stop system if you’re rock climbing because the new Jeep has a defeat switch, and the system is disabled automatically in 4Lo.
The new Wrangler Rubicon, which is the top trim-level vehicle, will have the best off-roading equipment. It'll boast 33-inch BF Goodrich KO2 “all-terrain” tires as its standard tires of choice. And with the new optional 2-inch lift from Mopar, massive 35-inch tires will also fit on the new vehicle. Also, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels will come standard (with gray-painted accents), with electronic-locking rear and front axles. The Sahara, which is the option available with the four-door Wrangler, will also use these same 17-inch wheels. In fact, all four iterations of the JL, including the Sport and the Sport S, will also use the 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, but the Rubicon is the only model that'll allow for the 35-inch upgraded wheel size.
The new Jeep Wranglers will all have a push-button start, as well as a 7-inch touchscreen. An 8.4-inch infotainment rig is also optional. These updated infotainment systems are available on all of their models. The Sport S will have a built-in Uconnect 4 7.0 system, while the Sahara will have the option of including leather-trimmed, heated seats, a stitched vinyl dashboard (reminiscent of the panel on the Jeep Grand Cherokee WK2), and a Uconnect 4C 8.4 infotainment system with GPS navigation, Keyless Enter-‘n’-Go, and a nine-speaker Alpine amplified premium audio system!
The Rubicon will have optional LED front headlamps with daylight running lamps, the same Uconnect 4C 8.4 infotainment system as the Sahara, a color-keyed dashboard panel, keyless entry, power windows, premium cloth seating surfaces, and touch sensors located on all door handles for Rubicons equipped with the Remote Proximity Keyless Entry option.
The roll bar on the new JL will loop over the body, which makes things much safer and negotiable if your vehicle were to ever roll. This new roll bar has been redesigned in order to accommodate the new roof systems (all of which will be mentioned and are super snazzy). These anti-roll and track bars are manufactured from hollow steel, which, combined with the aluminum engine mounts and steering gear and the lighter brake master cylinder, all contribute to the weight-saving effort of the new model.
The windshield also still folds flat, which is a feature autonomous with the Jeep Wrangler.
And thanks to a separate, non-folding header bar, which is connected to the A-pillars, this process of flattening the windshield is streamlined and easier. Overall, the windshield on the new JL comes out much easier than on the previous JK vehicle.
Thanks to the structural integrity of the new JL, the rearview mirror on the JL models will be bolted into place on the roll bar, as part of a new four-bolt procedure. The rearview mirror is an electrochromic mirror. The sun visors will also stay put now because they, too, are mounted on the roll cage. Both of these minor changes will take away much of the annoyance of a moving rearview mirror and sun visor when driving over rough terrain. Both the rearview mirror and the sun visors are mounted on a roll cage that's sprawled where the top of the windshield is. It's minor changes like these that Jeep Wrangler drivers have been asking for for years, and their pleas are finally being answered.
Another iconic feature of the Jeep Wrangler is the ability of the doors to come off. Well, the new JL will still have that capability and then some. First, the new doors on all the models will be built of lightweight aluminum, which will make removal much easier. Anyone who's ever dismantled a Jeep can hopefully appreciate that.
The door hinges will be stamped “T50,” which tells you what Torx bit size is needed to remove the doors—also a helpful tidbit for those who don’t want to lug around their whole toolkit just to remove some pesky doors. Also, the tool required to loosen the T50 fasteners will come included in the vehicle, though that stamp in the hinges is designated to remind what tool is needed, should yours get lost.
Optional half-doors will also be released online in 2019.
The new roof options and upgrades for the Wrangler JL are some of the coolest features of the new vehicle, and we’d be remiss not to mention them. First, there are three configurations for the new roof. The first is a “Sunrider Soft Top,” which has no zippers or velcro and can be used while going up to 60 mph. This is the standard roof option on all models. The roof will be able to be stowed behind the rear seats, like many of the soft top roadsters. There’s also a lever to “lock” the roof in place in the “down” position, so it won’t flap when the vehicle is moving.
Also, a color-keyed, hard-metal roof called the “Freedom Top hardtop” is available. It’s a three-piece system with two removable panels in the front of the vehicle. The top is now made of lighter aluminum, so it’s easier to lift and remove.
Finally, the “Sky One-Touch Power Top” is a soft canvas, power-retractable top and the first of its kind on any Wrangler. You simply press a switch, and the roof folds back, acting as a giant sunroof.
The optional upgraded engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged V6, will get a “mild hybrid” system that's alternator-based. A PHEV, electric-hybrid plug-in Wrangler is due out in 2020 and will change the future of off-road vehicles forever.
With all of the electronic options available to the Wrangler, it’s no wonder that a fully electric-hybrid engine is on the rise. Other electronic options on the vehicle include the electronic trailer-sway control (comes standard), the electronic “Sky One-Touch Power Top” canvas, and the push-start button. All of these features are included in the Wrangler in order for it to be more eco-friendly, to get better fuel economy, and to pave the way of the future when—let’s be honest—the Wrangler has been a bit stuck in the past up until this point.
The new high fenders on the Wrangler JL allow for the huge 33-inch tires. Fenders on the Rubicon off-road trim will be two inches higher, and the bump in height will allow for the monstrous 35-inch optional tires to be implemented. These new fenders will have air outlets that will help relieve pressure in the engine bay. Color-keyed fender flares will be available on the Rubicon as well.
The fenders on the Sahara model will be body-colored, and, as mentioned earlier, they'll be steel. On other versions of the vehicle, like the Sport and the Sport S, the fenders will be lightweight aluminum, just like on the hood, the doors, the hinges, and the windshield frame. This change in material will help make the Wrangler JL more aerodynamic and, of course, lighter.
The new Wrangler JL will also no longer have the “Wrangler” or the “Jeep” decal on the front fender.
The new Sahara will have LED front headlamps with daytime running lamps (DRLs), and the Rubicon will have the same. The front, round headlamps are integrated into the front grille. The rear tail lamps are also LED and DRL, and the rear spare tire has been moved down a bit to increase rear visibility. Interestingly enough, according to Jeep, the new headlamp lens design was inspired by Luke Skywalker’s snow goggles.
The optional towing package brings a Class II hitch receiver, as well as four-pin and seven-pin adapters, a 240-amp alternator, and a 700-amp battery with auxiliary switches. The maximum tow rate for the JL is 2,000 pounds for the two-door and 3,500 pounds for the four-door.
The front grille on the Wrangler JL is all new. The “raked” front grille still has the iconic seven vertical slots, but a new “kink” in the grille allows for better aerodynamics. Also, the designers decided to scrap the traditional Jeep logo from the grille (presumably because the Wrangler is already such an iconic-looking car that the logo isn’t really necessary). The “keystone shape” of the grille, the way the headlights are embedded into the outer grille slat, and the full-length rain gutter (doubling as a handy roof-rack attachment point) are all products of early concepts from Mark Allen’s design team.
The windows are bigger than any Wrangler before it, which allows for better all-around vision, and similar to the grille, the windshield is “raked” back an extra inch to allow it to fold down easier (and to increase aerodynamics, too).
As most other parts of the car, the traditional rear spare tire has been upgraded as well. First, it’s been moved down slightly, to increase rearview visibility. Second, the infotainment systems include a fully integrated and federally mandated rearview backup camera as standard equipment, and this camera is mounted to the spare tire. (It can be removed if the tire is removed, of course.)
The rear also has 60 mm more interior space, making the trunk larger. Some other rear changes to the Wrangler are the redesigned tailgate hinges, the hourglass-shaped rear taillights, a relocated plate bracket, and a new tailgate handle, which is supposed to work in combination with the vehicle’s keyless entry system.
Jeep unveiled the pricing for the 2018 Wrangler two-door and four-door on December 13th, 2017. The base pricings for all four models are included here for each trim level, without any upgraded options. And we must say, these prices are completely reasonable.
The basic Wrangler Sport two-door starts at $26,995, while the Wrangler Sport four-door is $30,495.
The Wrangler Sport S two-door is $30,195, and the Sport S four-door is $33,695. The Wrangler Sahara two-door is actually discontinued, while the four-door Sahara is $37,345.
The Wrangler Rubicon two-door is $36,995, while the Rubicon four-door is $40,495, making it the most expensive (and rugged) JL model on the market. Keep in mind that these prices don't include any of the numerous rooftop, infotainment system, and other upgrades.
Mark Allen has said there were huge numbers of early sketches for the JL, and many of them made the Wrangler look very different. With 11 years between new models, we’re not surprised. In the end, however, the designers didn't want to alienate their base, and they wanted to stay true to Wrangler tradition, so they opted to keep it relatively similar to prior Wrangler models.
As Mark Allen has said, some of those “way-out sketches” were used in order to get the creative juices flowing, and ultimately, tiny elements of those designs made it into the final product, such as the “keystone shape” grille, the Star Wars-inspired headlights, and the rain gutter system. We have to give Mr. Allen credit for keeping the evolution of the Wrangler within the bounds of its linearly plotted line and for not going too crazy with the design. But we do like the overall changes to the new vehicle.
Sources: jalopnik.com; automobilemag.com; caranddriver.com