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2018 jeep Wrangler

With roots going all the way back to the Willys "Jeep" used during WWII, the iconic Jeep Wrangler is one of the purest and most capable SUVs on the market today. The latest model, available in two-door and four-door versions, has been updated with a mild hybrid turbo-four and a host of interior changes that make the truck a better daily driver.

Recent changes
For the latest model year, the Wrangler is all-new.

Overview
Looking past the rugged fenders, trademark seven-bar grille and other familiar styling elements, the biggest recent news for the model is the reintroduction of a four-cylinder engine (which has been absent since the "TJ" generation was discontinued nearly a decade ago). This is not some entry-level powerplant, however.

Indeed, the new four-cylinder is a turbocharged, two-liter unit with a 48-volt mild hybrid system dubbed "eTorque" for extra punch down low. The engine develops 270 horsepower and a peak of 295lb-ft of torque.

Carrying over from the old Wrangler is Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. The V6 is rated at 285 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 260 lb-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm and is designed to run on regular unleaded fuel.

Both engines are available in all Wrangler models, and a six-speed manual is still standard across all trims. The transmission is new and supplied by Aisin. A new eight-speed automatic is an optional upgrade across all trim levels.

Fuel economy with the six-speed is rated at 17 mpg city and 23 highway for vehicles with the standard rear axle ratio. Automatics are rated at 18/23.

Life aboard
Other recent changes include an interior that is far more hospitable than that of the outgoing model. A more upscale dashboard design retains much of the outgoing model's basic layout - a high-mounted radio, centrally-located window controls and rotary climate control knobs - but uses much richer materials. The interior is still designed to withstand abuse (and can even be hosed out on models with cloth seats) but is more inviting than before.

The Wrangler is now more comfort-oriented, especially in the 4-Door "Sahara" variant. 4-Doors seat five (rather than four) and have rear-seat ventilation and power/data hookups available.

A central component of the Wrangler's appeal is the open-air motoring experience it provides; buyers can choose from a durable three-piece hard top with glass windows or a soft top with plastic windows, both of which can be removed to take advantage of sunny days. Even the side doors can be removed with just a screwdriver.

Jeep's new soft top is entirely zipperless, making it much easier to remove or re-install (in whole or in part) by just one person. It also stows much more easily in the redesigned rear cargo area.

What makes a Jeep, a Jeep
The suspension for the Wrangler is a five-link coil setup with tuned shock absorbers. This setup works with Dana 30 front and next-generation heavy-duty Dana 44 rear axles. The Wrangler Rubicon model uses heavy-duty front and rear Dana 44 axles.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon also features an electronic-disconnecting front stabilizer bar - called the active sway bar system - which delivers additional wheel travel for challenging terrain.

With high ground clearance combined with short front and rear overhangs, the Jeep Wrangler has the ability to conquer incredibly challenging off-road obstacles, especially severe inclines. Off-road enthusiasts will appreciate the key numbers: an approach angle of 41.4 degrees, breakover angle of 25 degrees and departure angle of 35.9 degrees. All of these are improved with the Rubicon model (detailed bleow).

Underbody protection is provided by three skid plates, which protect the fuel tank, transfer case and automatic transmission oil pan.

The latest Jeep Sport and Sport S models are also equipped with the Command-Trac NV241 part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio.

An available Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential provides extra torque and grip during slippery, low-traction situations, such as driving over sand, gravel, snow or ice.

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon model is equipped with an Off-Road Rock-Trac NV241OR two-speed transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range gear ratio, as well as electric front- and rear-axle lockers, an electronic sway bar disconnect and 33-inch all-terrain tires.

Sport and Sport S models now include a standard 3.45 rear axle ratio, while off road-oriented Rubicons can be optioned with either a 3.73 or 4.10, both of which improve upon the outgoing 4.10's crawl ratio thanks to the new automatic's lower first gear ratio.

Trim Level Breakdown
The 2-Door Wrangler is available in three trim levels: Sport, Sport S and Rubicon. The 4-Door Wrangler is also available in a premium "Sahara" trim.

The Wrangler Sport comes standard with full metal doors with roll-up windows, black fender flares, fog lights, manually-adjustable door mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels, ambient lighting, cloth upholstery and a multi-function steering wheel. This model also skips the fancier infotainment in favor of a five-inch version of FCA's Uconnect 3 (where higher-trim models have access to the 4th-generation tech).

Stepping up to Sport S bumps the comfort level slightly; This is where you get niceties such as power windows and aluminum wheels. This is the first trim where FCA's new UConnect 4.0 infotainment is on full display, with an optional 8.4-inch screen and navigation.

Exclusive to the 4-Door, the Sahara is the premium, comfort-oriented offering. 8.4-inch Uconnect is standard at this level, as it a ton of connectivity. USB Type-C and 115V power outlets are available, as well as a power-retractable top (another first for Wrangler) which operates much like a Fiat 500's. The sides are fixed composite; the folding top itself is cloth.

Since the 2-Door Wrangler is no longer offered in the Sahara trim, those who want more interior upgrades in their short-wheelbase Wranglers are forced to jump to the Rubicon model.

Rubicon
For those who want the most capability straight out of the box, Rubicon is the king. 8.4-inch Uconnect is standard and leather seating is optional, but the name of the game here is capability.

Rubicons get a shorter final drive ratio (4.10:1), a more aggressive crawl ratio (77.2:1) and, thanks to mild body lift and relocated fenders, space for 35-inch aftermarket (or Mopar accessory) wheels. Jeep's "Tru-Lok" locking front and rear differentials are also standard on Rubicons (a limited-slip rear-end is optional on lesser trims), which get Dana 44 axles front and rear (where lesser models get Dana 30/35 front/rear).

In addition to locking differentials, the Rubicon also offers an electronically disconnecting sway bar, allowing for increased articulation. If you're big on installing your own accessories (off-road lights, winches, etc.), the Rubicon is what you want for that too. Factory accessory switches have been included on the center stack, and the front bumper has a built-in mounting location for easy winch installation.

As it sits, the Rubicon has a 44-degree approach angle, 27.8-degree breakover angle and 37-degree departure angle. Don't bother looking for competitive specs. You won't find any better. The Rubicon will also ford 30 inches of water and, just for giggles, it'll tow 3,500 pounds.

Safety
The Wrangler features dual front and side airbags to supplement a sturdy body-on-frame construction and crumple zones that absorb energy from a crash. Electronic stability control (ESC) with electronic roll mitigation is also standard.

New available safety features include Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection, and a ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic grid lines.

Key Competitors
As a two-door, removable roof SUV with unparalleled off-road chops, the Wrangler is essentially in a class of one. However, buyers in the market for an off-road-focused SUV can also look at the Toyota 4Runner.

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