2018 Jeep Wrangler Officially Unveiled

2018 Jeep Wrangler Officially Unveiled

2018 Jeep Wrangler JLStory and photos by Benjamin Yong

Apple released the first iPhone. The United States elected its first African American president. Full House returned to TV. These are just a few of the milestones that have occurred in the long 10 years since the current Jeep Wrangler was released back in 2007. However, fans of the off-road vehicle now have cause to celebrate as during November’s Los Angeles Auto Show (LAAS) the iconic American automotive brand announced a completely overhauled “JL” platform is on its way.

For its grand LAAS unveil, a separate tent area was reserved away from the rest of the hubbub going to show just how important an event it was. Head of Jeep Michael Manley did the honours of introducing the new vehicle, speaking about the importance of heritage and the ownership base, two things significantly influencing the redesign.

“Jeep owners have always played an important role in shaping the history and the character of their brand, and their passion is something unique and absolute. It’s probably one of our most defining attributes,” said Manley.

“One owner said when I die, I want to be buried in my Jeep because it’s never been in a hole I couldn’t get out of. [They] are proud to show their passion and many take their spirit a step further by having it permanently tattooed on their body. Now that’s the kind of loyalty most automakers can only dream of creating,” he said, laughing.

Keeping this in mind, virtually all the changes to the JL— which continues to be available in two and four door, Sahara and Rubicon form — pay homage to previous models. For example, the seven-slot grill is back, the top half now gently curved to give a sleeker look, and the outermost slats intersect the round headlamps as they did on the original Willys CJ. The forward turn signals have migrated from the grille to the front of the fender flares. At the rear, the traditional square taillamps house optional LED lighting.

2018 Jeep Wrangler JLOther upgrades make an adventuring lifestyle easier. The windshield, mounted steeper than before to increase aerodynamics, folds down quickly via a simple four-bolt design. A header bar between the A-pillars allows the rearview mirror to stay safely in place. The Sunrider soft top has additional articulation points so opening to partial or full position is more convenient. A one-touch powered top is also coming later next year.

Inside, there are nicer soft-touch materials used, an engine start button encased in a weatherproof surround, additional innovative storage spaces and a fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system accessed either using a seven or 8.4-inch touchscreen display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto hands-free smartphone connectivity are both supported.

Manley promises the upcoming generation to be the most capable one so far. As many other manufacturers have been doing as of late, lightweight aluminum is utilized all over the vehicle including the doors, hinges, engine mounts helping drop over 90 kilograms of weight. Suspension continues to be based upon a five-link coil configuration, but spring rates and shock dampening are retuned to provide an optimal balance between ride comfort and off-road handling.

And with these specifications, drivers will want to head to the path untraveled often. The approach angle is 44 degrees, breakover 27.8 degrees and departure 37 degrees; ground clearance is rated at 277 millimetres and up to 762 millimetres of water depth can be forded. In addition, Rubicons receive an electronic front sway-bar disconnect to offer additional wheel travel as needed.

2018 Jeep Wrangler JLThere are no less than four powertrain options destined for the new Wrangler. A turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder joins the lineup producing 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque – more than the V6 we’ll discuss in a second. Manley calls the four-banger a “mild hybrid” as it incorporates electric power assist, intelligent battery charging and regenerative braking functionality. The familiar 285-horsepower 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 gains engine stop-start technology. A 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 is coming in 2019, pumping out 260 horses and a massive 442 lb-ft of torque.

The final powerplant on the list was a surprising one.

“A full plug in jeep Wrangler will be available in 2020, furthering our commitment to all those who value the responsible sustained enjoyment of the great outdoors,” said Manley. Details on this electrified variant is forthcoming.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard across all trims, geared to improve crawl ratio performance. Or, buyers can choose a fuel efficient, smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic.

“With nearly 4 million miles of testing under its belt, traversing the globe in scorching heat and blistering cold, the all-new Wrangler is ready to take its rightful position in the legendary Jeep lineup. So what we’ve shown you today is a modern-day vehicle that stays true to the original. In so many ways, the new Wrangler has been created by the people for the people based on their suggestions and feedback over the years – now with this latest addition we recommit ourselves to a design that is functional, authentic and true to the old promise to deliver more.”

Stay tuned for in-depth coverage of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler when Off-Road Plus gets behind the wheel in the coming weeks.

Categories: Features, Off-Road Plus