The off-road world has been waiting with baited breath for the next-generation iconic. The arguably has the best off-road capability of all the SUVs currently on the market and now it will have a new twist: a diesel engine. The caveat? We’ll have to wait until 2019 for that oil-burner to arrive.
In the meantime, folks have the option of a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or the proven 3.6-liter V6, now with stop/start technology. The smaller turbocharged engine is good for 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine features a new eTorque technology with start/stop, fuel shut-off and regenerative braking. No word on EPA fuel ratings, but Jeep certainly seems to be paying attention to efficiency this time around.
I’ll admit to being a bit skeptical about a turbocharger in a vehicle meant for off-road glory, but Jeep placed the twin-scroll turbocharger directly on the cylinder head for greater durability and designed an electronically actuated waste gate that should perform well even when one is rock crawling or in a precarious situation. Further, a separate liquid-cooling system for air, throttle body and turbo should allow drivers to turn up the heat on their driving lines choices while keeping their power points nice and cool.
But really, it’s the diesel that I think most folks will want to wait for. The 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel, mated to the eight-speed automatic transmission, will offer 260 horsepower and 442 pound/feet of torque. Jeeps are made for slow and steady rock climbing, not fast dune running like the Ford Raptor; it does just fine with horsepower in the mid-200s. The extra torque, however, is a boon and should help the Wrangler climb up and over obstacles even easier.
And what if you just want to row your own gears? An all-new six-speed manual transmission is standard on all Wranglers with the 3.6-liter V6 engine.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler 2-door model is available in Sport, Sport S and Rubicon trims. If you want a bit more room, Wrangler 4-door models are available in Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon trims.
Jeep gives the 2018 Wrangler in the Sahara trim the option of the new Selec-Trac full-time two speed transfer case, providing full-time four wheel drive as well as a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. The part-time four-wheel drive Command-Trac system is standard, with the same low-range gear ratio but really, go for the good stuff. The Rock-Trac system in the Rubicon comes with the whole shebang: locking front and rear differentials, front sway bar disconnect and a killer 4:1 low-range gear ratio.
The new Wrangler Rubicon four-door gets a bit better geometry as well, thanks to the bigger BF Goodrich KO2 tires. An approach angle of 44 degrees, breakover angle of 27.8 degrees, departure angle of 37 degrees and a ground clearance of 10.9 inches should be enough to get drivers most places save for the most extreme trails.
Wranglers have never been known for their interior technology, but the 2018 model is shaping up to be pretty nifty. FCA’s excellent Uconnect system is standard across a 5, 7 or 8.4-inch touchscreen with pinch and zoom capability. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included along with a WiFi hotspot, two USB ports, two 12V accessory ports and a 115-volt three-prong AC outlet, all the better for blending up some beverages at the end of the trail.
And for those who fear a misguided return to the square-headlight days of yore, never fear. The 2018 Wrangler still sports the familiar round headlights and seven-slot grille. The most distinctive change to the front fascia is the relocation of the LED turn signals to the front of the fenders, rather than just below the headlights. It’s a bold move and certainly does emphasize the width of the Jeep.
Available next summer will be the Sky One-Touch powertop, taking some of the burden of letting the sunshine in. The current top is, well honestly, a bitch to take down. The addition of a push-button open canvas roof should be a welcome option.
There is, however, one push button I’m not on board with. The 2018 Wrangler will feature a push-button start. What is this, a car? No, it’s a Jeep. Jeeps start with keys, not Fancy McFancyPants push-buttons.
No word on pricing yet, but the 2018 Jeep Wrangler will be on sale in January. We’ve got a drive planned soon, so keep your eyes peeled for our impressions from behind the wheel of this iconic vehicle.