Jeep has unveiled the all-new 2018 JL Wrangler at this year’s Los Angeles motor show, ahead of a late 2018 local launch.
One of the last remaining solid axle off-roaders, the JL Wrangler, introduces weight-saving measures, more fuel-efficient drivetrains and smoothed out but still instantly recognisable Wrangler styling.
“Jeep has always represented the ultimate in capability and open-air freedom, and our all-new 2018 Wrangler protects that important legacy and takes it into the future,” said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global. “The all-new Wrangler is instantly recognisable as a Jeep, staying true to the original, yet it is better in every way – delivering even more rugged capability, more ride comfort, more fuel efficiency courtesy of several advanced powertrain options, more interior comfort, more safety and more technology.”
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler 2-door model is available in three different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S and Rubicon. Wrangler 4-door models are available in four different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon.
For the first time in Wrangler’s history, a two-speed ‘Selec-Trac’ transfer case with full-time four-wheel drive, is available on North American market Sahara models.
The Command-Trac 4×4 system features a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, and next-generation solid Dana front and rear axles with a 3.45 rear axle ratio.
On Wrangler Rubicon, a Rock-Trac 4×4 system features heavy-duty next-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a “4LO” ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard as are Tru-Lok locking differentials. As is the case with the outgoing model, Wrangler Rubicon’s axle articulation is improved with the addition of electronic sway-bar disconnects. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual with an improved crawl ratio of 84.2:1. Jeep has reduced the crawl in the crawl ratio to 77.2:1 on Rubicon models equipped with the new eight-speed automatic transmission. Both Command-Trac and Rock-Trac systems offer full-time torque management.
In Australia, the only drivetrain being made available is Selec-Trac with its permanent all-wheel-drive functionality, and yes, that includes Rubicon models.
Jeep has retained the Wrangler’s traditional body-on-frame design. The use of lightweight, high-strength aluminium closures, including the doors, door hinges, hood, fender flares, windshield frame and magnesium swing gate, help reduce weight and boost fuel economy.
Wrangler continues to utilise a five-link coil suspension configuration, that features two upper and two lower forged steel control arms for longitudinal control, and a track bar for lateral axle control. The control arms are located outside of the frame rails while the rear shocks are splayed to provide consistent damping.
Wrangler’s front suspension features a lateral control arm and four longitudinal control arms. Full-width track bars made of forged steel control lateral movement of the axle with minimal angle change during suspension travel. The roll centre height has been raised, and the spring rates have been retuned.
As you’d expect from a vehicle dedicated to off-roading, the JL Wrangler boasts a best-in-class approach angle of 44 degrees, breakover angle of 27.8 degrees, departure angle of 37 degrees and ground clearance of 276.8mm.
Water fording depth is a reasonable 762mm and towing capacity, depending on the vehicle spec chosen, is up to 1587kg.
A 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 and all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engines join the Wrangler line-up, with the existing 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine being upgraded to suit. In Australia, we’ll unfortunately only be seeing the Pentastar V6 and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. Why we won’t be seeing the 3.0-litre diesel is hard to fathom.
The 2.2-litre diesel will produce around 147kW and 450Nm which compares favourably with the smaller diesels powering the various 4X4 utes available in Australia. The revised Pentastar V6 develops 212kW and 353Nm. Both models will be offered exclusively with an eight-speed transmission, coupled to a two-speed transfer case with the full-time four-wheel drive.
From a distance, it looks all Wrangler, but there have been numerous detail changes made to smooth out that square-rigger styling and make life a little easier for owners.
Dozens of different door, top and windshield combinations allow for endless configuration possibilities. A new half-door design will be available starting in 2019.
The windshield’s rake has been optimised for improved aerodynamics and features a new four-bolt design at the top of the windshield’s frame to allow the windshield to fold down quickly and easily. A new header bar now connects the A-pillars and stays in place even when the windshield is folded down, which allows the rearview mirror to remain in place even with the windshield folded.
Two-piece body-colour fender flares with a black lower insert give a raised profile and are standard on Sahara and available on Rubicon models. New lightweight, high-strength aluminium doors now feature the Torx bit tool size stamped directly onto the hinge to eliminate guessing which tool size is needed to remove the doors.
All models feature body-coloured sport bars, which are welded to the body and feature integrated grab handles. An all-new Sky One-Touch powertop sliding canvas roof will be available in the second quarter of 2018.
Jeep is calling the interior “heritage-inspired”. A hand-wrapped instrument panel features a soft-touch surface with accent stitching on Wrangler Sahara models. Features, including climate and volume control knobs, media charging and connectivity ports and the Engine Stop-Start (ESS) control. Inboard and outboard circular HVAC vents are surrounded by a platinum chrome bezel.
A redesigned centre console houses the gear shift selection, transfer case and parking brake. Real bolts feature on the shifter, grab handles and frame the infotainment screen. A push-button starter with a weather-proof surround is a Wrangler first.
Cloth or leather-contoured seats feature accent stitching, and now feature adjustable bolster and lumbar support. Heated front seats and steering wheel are available options.
The driver and front passenger vinyl-wrapped door trim panels are soft to the touch, and the armrests have been lengthened for better comfort. New Lift-Assist handles under each door armrest feature an integrated pull-up design that makes door removal quicker and easier than ever. Convenience features include passive entry with Keyless Go.
The instrument cluster features a 3.5 or 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) information LED display, depending on the model variant. The 7-inch LED display allows the driver to configure information in more than 100 ways including current media being played, tyre pressures, or digital speed readout. Integrated buttons on the steering wheel control audio, voice, and speed functions.
There are three sizes of infotainment screen, 5.0, 7.0 or 8.4-inches, the latter being the most advanced and largest display Uconnect system display ever offered on Wrangler. It houses the fourth-generation Uconnect system that boasts quicker startup times and improved screen resolution. A 5.0-inch touchscreen is standard on Wrangler Sport.
Australian pricing will be confirmed closer to the late 2018 local launch of the JL Wrangler range.