2018 Jeep Wrangler: The evolution of an icon [First Look]

2018 Jeep Wrangler (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

How do you redesign a classic?

According to Mark Allen, head of design for Jeep: Very carefully.

“Tradition is the name of the game, and we were meant to evolve it,” Allen said. “Of course, it’s still got to look like a Wrangler.”

And so it does.

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler gets a complete redesign, but if you see a lot of the CJ series in it, that’s because it’s Allen’s favorite Jeep “of all time.”

From the trapezoidal shape of the grille to the long horizontal lines on the interior, the inspiration for this next-gen Wrangler is very clear.

And while Jeep does a really good job of adding in some high-tech features, it maintains the rough-and-tumble tradition. So, yes, you can still get a manual transmission and roll-up windows. Plus, the doors are removable, the windshield folds down – and even comes off – and there are four different tops providing a variety of open-air experiences.

If you are a serious off-roader, you can even opt for the Rubicon model with the optional steel bumpers that can be removed for better clearance.

For 2018, the Wrangler gets two new engine options: a base 3.6-liter V-6 engine and an up-level 2.0-liter 4-cylinder.

The V-6 is the second-generation Pentastar, which delivers 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This can be matched with either the 6-speed manual or the 8-speed automatic transmission. I spent the least time with this engine, and found it to be fine. It’s a little loud and a little sluggish, and if I hadn’t spent some QT with the 4-cylinder engine, I’d probably like it.

But the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder is really nice – smooth, quiet and fast in all the right places. It delivers 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. I love this engine.

The downside for Jeep purists: You can’t get it with the manual transmission.

Jeep has only released fuel economy numbers for the 3.6-liter engine at the time of posting this review, and the manual and automatic transmissions aren’t that different:

  • MT (city/hwy/combined): 17/23/19 mpg
  • AT (city/hwy/combined) : 18/23/20 mpg

During our on-road excursions, I observed this to be fairly accurate.

Coming for the 2019 model year, you’ll see the addition of a 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel in the Wrangler lineup. It will deliver 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, and it will only be available on the 4-door models.

The Wrangler can be configured as a 2- or 4-door model and offers Sport, Sahara (4-door only) and Rubicon trims.

Base pricing is as follows:

2-door Configurations

  • Sport: $26,995
  • Rubicon: $36,995

4-door Configurations

  • Sport: $30,495
  • Sahara: $37,345
  • Rubicon: $40,495