2018 Wrangler JK New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Wrangler is all-new for 2018, slightly larger, roomier, more refined, yet with improved off-road capability. The 2018 Wrangler comes in two-door and four-door Unlimited models.
Jeep is a brand name that has been expanded to cover five (soon to be six) different nameplates, but for serious off-road enthusiasts only one vehicle really merits that hallowed badge and this is it. Though it's been refined and mechanically enhanced over the decades, the Jeep Wrangler continues to embody the rugged go-anywhere can-do spirit of the original, a vehicle General George C. Marshall characterized as America's greatest contribution to World War II. (Greatest technical contribution, that is. General Marshall did not discount the millions of men and women who served in the armed forces from 1941 through 1945.)
How much does the latest Wrangler resemble the ones that rolled ashore at Normandy in 1944? Well, there are those seven vertical grille vents, which have persisted over the decades with all Jeeps, great and small. And like the Willys original, the Wrangler is a body-on-frame design: the body joins the chassis late in the assembly process.
No other Jeep meets that description. All are unitbodies, i.e., the body shell and frame rails are unitized. The same applies to all Jeep competitors. The advantage of unitbody construction is higher chassis rigidity and lower curb weight.
The advantage of body-on-frame is its ability to take a beating in rough going. Which is what this Jeep is all about.
Without a side-by-side comparison, previous generation and new, it would take a real Jeep expert to see the difference. Not surprising. The Wrangler is a sacred property, revered by many thousands of owners, and the design team trifles with its basics at their peril. Remember the firestorm that greeted the square headlights of the 1986 model?
So the new Wrangler looks very much like its predecessor: squarish fenders, rectilinear styling, removable doors, removable windshield, side curtains, rear mounted spare.
But there are many differences. For one, this is a slightly bigger Wrangler on a longer, sturdier wheelbase. And while bigger, it's also fractionally lighter. A new 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine option. Increased off-road capability. More ground clearance for the Rubicon model. More interior room. More comfort. Enhanced infotainment and connectivity.
And an irony. While the two-door Wrangler continues to be the most iconic of all Jeeps, with the closest ties to the WW II, the four-door version is the best seller, to the tune of 80 to 85 percent of Wrangler sales.
There are four Wrangler trim levels: Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon.