Words: Karston Chong
Photography: Karston Chong
Published: July 24, 2018
The revered Jeep Wrangler nameplate carries a rather peculiar conundrum. On one hand it’s an instantly recognizable icon of longstanding off-road dexterity. All the while, most Wranglers on the road appear so pristine that you’d be convinced that these legendary brutes have developed an allergic reaction to dust and mud.
So come time for a 2018 redesign, engineers had their task set out to not only appease the die-hard enthusiasts, but also the urban dwellers seeking the lifestyle appeal of owning an iconic Jeep. Myself being far closer to the latter, I’ve taken on the lens of a reviewing this Jeep completely disregarding its off-roading capabilities. For most other purpose-built vehicles, overlooking its rock crawling chops would be blasphemous but in the case of the Wrangler and its strong backing of an off-road averse market, I find this fitting.
The new revisions barely manifest themselves in appearance. In fact, you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t tell the difference even though the exterior is completely new. Form still resembles the iconic proportions of the historic Jeep design but look close enough and you may spot a few subtle yet tastefully implemented changes. These add, dare I say, a refined finish to an otherwise classic look.
Bold and clean circular LEDs sandwich the presence-demanding front grille, and the discreet turn signals finishing off the front fenders are just a few tell-tale signs of this redesign. Elsewhere, you’ll continue to find exposed door hinges and unpainted bumpers, handles, and side-steps, but the revisions impressively add a touch of freshness to an otherwise archaic recipe. Whether you find the exterior changes to be too subtle or not, not many can deny that this classic formula is effective.
Based off of appearance alone, the interior is seemingly familiar to its predecessors: a utilitarian design sporting a flurry of buttons, knobs, levers, and a cabin wrapped in mid-market leather and soft-touch surfaces. Aside from the intuitive FCA touchscreen and gauge display, the rest of the interior is inoffensive but far from memorable.
You would be wrong to suspect that Jeep has been resting on its laurels. The majority of the design improvements have been focused towards ride refinement and overall ease in drivability to accommodate our urban-dwelling friends. General aches and pains of the Wrangler’s industrious ride has been quelled, even through the slightly awkward upright seating position. Vibrations and wind noise have also been improved, pairing well with the improved chassis dynamics and agility. The 2018 Wrangler now drives and rides far closer to a conventional SUV, albeit still a coarse and raw experience compared to any other modern compatriot.
The drivetrain remains largely unchanged. The 3.6L Pentastar V6 offers up 285 hp and 260 lb-ft, a peppy engine sufficient for the job but lacking any true emotion as it propelled me through the week of daily commuting at 13.0 L/ 100km. The 8-speed automatic also performed proficiently in the background without causing significant issues to the drive.
During my week of ownership, the Jeep Wrangler managed to create a delight of almost any day-to-day task. Driving in and out of the city felt charmingly out of place, wind noise and vibrations, while limited, still felt annoying in character, and the lack of common practicality in the interior was nearly laughable. These are all quirks and shortcomings that seem to get overlooked by the image and lifestyle it portrays, but I question how quickly that act wears thin under long-term ownership.
Jeep has done well in making the Wrangler more tolerable to drive for the masses, but I still find it mental that a decent sized demographic is willing to keep up with these shortcomings, and not for the Jeep’s off-roading prowess, rather for the Barbie and Ken lifestyle image. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is a clever redesign suited well for its target market, albeit a market that I fail to fully grasp. As they say, maybe “it’s just a Jeep thing.” Maybe I’ll never understand.
Model: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited
Paint Type: Billet Metallic
Base Price: $46,245
Price as Tested (without PDI, tax, destination): $53,460
Wheelbase (mm): 2,423
Length / width / height (mm): 4,785 / 1,875 / 1,868
Curb weight (kg): 1,759
Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V6
Horsepower: 285 hp
Torque: 260 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4X4
Fuel Consumption (City/Highway) L/100km: 10.0 / 10.9
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.0
Tires: Bridgestone Dueler H/T