Jeep officially unveiled the long-anticipated redesign of its iconic Wrangler at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Wrangler is one of parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ best-selling models, but it saw its last full redesign for the 2007 model year and was overdue for a full update.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler continues to be offered in 2-door and 4-door versions, and retains the outgoing model’s traditional off-road-oriented chassis layout, with body-on-frame construction and solid axles front and rear. Jeep says the revised 5-link coil suspension maintains Wrangler’s impressive off-road ability, while improving on-road ride and handling. The new body structure retains steel construction, but the doors and fenders are now lightweight aluminum and the rear swing gate is now magnesium in an effort to reduce weight and improve fuel economy.
The 285-hp 3.6-liter V6 returns as the base engine. A new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, rated at 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, is optional; it features new “eTorque” mild-hybrid technology that includes fuel-saving functions such as auto stop/start, extended fuel shutoff, intelligent battery charging, and regenerative braking. Jeep hasn’t listed any fuel-economy numbers yet, but the turbo 2.0 should offer notably better fuel economy than the V6. Scheduled for 2019 is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 260 hp and a hefty 442 lb-ft of torque.
The previous Wrangler’s 5-speed automatic transmission is replaced by a new 8-speed automatic that should help fuel economy; a 6-speed manual transmission is still available with the gasoline V6. Full-time 4-wheel-drive is available for the first time; previous Wranglers only offered a part-time system that needed to be engaged by the driver.
The new Wrangler’s styling is instantly recognizable—an important consideration for Jeep traditionalists—but is now a bit more aerodynamic thanks to an increased slant to the grille and windshield. The windshield still folds down and the doors are removable for an unmatched open-air experience. An optional “Sky One-Touch” power-folding canvas roof is a Wrangler first.
Newly available safety features include blind-spot alert, rear cross-path detection, and a rearview camera. Wrangler also gains the latest generation of Uconnect, an infotainment system that features faster response times and higher-resolution graphics. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality and push-button starting are among the other newly available features.
The redesigned 2018 Jeep Wrangler is slated to go on sale in early 2018. Note that the current-generation Wrangler continues for 2018 as the Wrangler JK.
Jeep has to walk something of a tightrope with the beloved Wrangler. This iconic off-roader has a loyal following that is resistant to radical change and expects outstanding off-road capabilities. Yet most Wranglers never truly venture off-road, and most mainstream buyers have come to expect crossover-like comfort, convenience, and fuel economy—attributes that haven’t traditionally been Wrangler strong points. The new Wrangler should satisfy traditionalists while adding more high-tech features and greater comfort, as well as improved efficiency. Stay tuned—we’ll have a full report after our upcoming preview test drive next month.