Jeep revealed specs and details for its new 2018 Wrangler late November ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, and while the SUV looks a lot like its predecessor, it’s based on a whole new set of underpinnings and features a million little changes.
The new JL-generation Wrangler still comes with Chrysler’s 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6 cranking out 285 hp and 260 lb-ft and backed by a six-speed stickshift standard or an eight-speed auto optionally.
New is a 2.0-liter inline-four turbocharged available across the range, but backed only by that eight-speed automatic; it makes 270 hp but 295 lb-ft of torque.
In 2019, the Wrangler will steal the EcoDiesel from the Ram 1500, and back it, too, with a more robust version of that eight-speed auto. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 will be tuned to deliver 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. In 2020, you can expect a hybrid version, Jeep confirmed.
If you’re wondering about off-road prowess, well, the Wrangler Sport and Sahara models will come with Dana 30 axles up front and Dana 35s in the rear and a part-time transfer case standard; a full-time case is optional on Sahara, which will only come in four-door Unlimited trim.
The Rubicon carries over the JK’s Rock-Trac transfer case and gets heavier-duty Dana 44 axles front and rear, with 33-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrains wrapped around 17-inch wheels stuck to the ends of them. That makes them good for fording rivers up to 30 inches, apparently.
Ground clearance is up over the previous JK-generation Wrangler; for Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon Wranglers, it’s now now 9.7, 10, and 10.8 inches, respectively.
Design-wise, the body panels are now aluminum over a steel frame, with a magnesium tailgate, to help keep weight down. The Wrangler does grow slightly in every dimension, but curb weight hasn’t climbed more than a hundred pounds or so versus its predecessor.
The different trims – Sport, Sport S, and Rubicon for the two-door; Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon for the Unlimited four-door – each come with different door and roof options for supreme flexibility. The windshield folds down once four bolts are loosed, and the doors come off, plus there’s two hardtops, a premium soft top, and, later, there’ll be a Sky One-Touch powertop. Body-coloured sport bars come on all trims.
The vents are all functional (at least on top-of-the-range Rubicon trims) and the crease below the beltline is there to add structural rigidity, not just style. The window openings have been enlarged and the spare tire lowered for better visibility all around.
The interior gets a more premium feel overall, save perhaps in the off-road Rubicon, which gets a painted-panel dashboard designed to evoke an old-school metal dash. The cabin has been made quieter, too.
Jeep has yet to announce fuel efficiency and pricing details, and also hasn’t said anything about the top-secret Scrambler pickup truck model coming. But overall, the many changes to the Wrangler JL seem to point at a vehicle more capable off-road as well as more comfortable on-road.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler should hit Canadian showrooms around January 2018.