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The 2018 Jeep JL Wrangler: What’s old is new and it’s better than ever

Jeep could not afford to mess up the launch of its new JL Wrangler. The good news here is that it didn’t. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is the best Jeep ever made, in fact. A touch of improved styling, more engine options, a fully refined interior space, and greatly improved on-road dynamics leave us in love with the JL.

This specific JL Wrangler being driven is a two-door Sport with the soft-top and 3.6-liter V6/8-speed automatic. It’s a combination that results in a surprisingly quick-on-its-feet Wrangler. You can hustle it when you have to, but it definitely hasn’t lost any of its off-road chops.

There are two more engine options on the way as well. The turbo four-banger mill will offer a bit more torque than the Pentastar V6, and the eventual EcoDiesel will come thundering along with 442 pound-feet of grunt. Both of those are only available with the eight-speed, and the eight-speed for the diesel is tuned specifically to handle the increased twist on tap.

As it sits already though, the 3.6-liter is fully enjoyable with the automatic gearbox. It’s a strong combination that increases the daily drivability of the new JL Wrangler. Yet it’s still fun when you want to get the Jeep absolutely covered in mud and dirt.

[Disclaimer: Jeep tossed us the keys to the JL Wrangler and included a tank of fuel. We had to wash the Wrangler three times…]

  • Zentropy

    I normally bemoan automatics, but in this case, I think it’s a great choice. I initially had a 258-6 with a four-speed and manual-locking axles in my ’77 CJ-7, but later installed a 360-V8 with a Quadratrac automatic. Ease of off-roading went up exponentially.

    Of note: Is it just a trick of the camera placement, or is that A pillar thick to the point of being obstructive?

    • Jeff Glucker

      It’s the GoPro… I didn’t have a lot of great choices for camera placement with my mounts. So the view winds up looking far more intrusive than it actually is. I had no issues with the A Pillar while driving.

  • Rover 1

    For readers/viewers in the old British Empire/Commonwealth and housewives in leafy US suburbs, this new Jeep is being pointed to as the direction that LandRover’s new Defender could go.

    The suspicion is that the denizens of the leafy suburbs will get their way more than the Australian farmer or Nigerian tour guide and that we’ll get something more RangeRoverish than Wranglerish.

    • Vairship

      Making the Defender more RangeRoverish would probably help sales, but hurt the Discovery/Range Rover Sport/Discovery Sport and other more-affordable-than-RR mall-cruisers.

      Of course the people in charge of the New Defender might think that “more sales” is going to help their career more than “less stealing sales from other Land Rover products”. Ah, the joys of office politics…

      • outback_ute

        Agreed. I see a lot of Defenders in the inner suburbs, and I am sure the owners want a square, rugged, semi-utilitarian machine rather than one of the normal SUVs they could have bought instead.

        And the pickup models that actually do some work (I see these too), well need it be said?

  • willied1029

    Good review, Jeff! Sounds like the Wrangler is a great vehicle all around other than the price being a bit high. I guess that’s the cost of progress. Anyway, I wonder what the reliability will be like.

  • neight428

    I like them. Even the two door has a serviceable amount of space now.

  • Luxury Lexus Land-yacht

    Unfortunately, rumor has it, FCA is doing away with all Jeep Diesel engines. Unfortunate, because they’re the perfect power plant for grunt.

    I lurves me the 5.9L in my ’98 Grand Cherokee, but off-road MPG tends to be middle single digits. On-road is low-to-middle double digits.

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