17/25 mpg
0–60 mph
6.8 sec
285 hp
Tested Model: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited V-6 AWD Automatic  · 
2018 Jeep Wrangler JL 2-door Shown
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Jeep Wrangler

Editors' Rating
Price Starting at


Price Starting at



The Wrangler is the quintessential Jeep. A charming anachronism with roots dating back to World War II, it virtually started the SUV craze. As with the wartime Jeep from which it's descended, today's all-new Wrangler JL will go just about anywhere. Wranglers come in two- and four-door body styles and are equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6—a turbocharged four-cylinder and a diesel V-6 are joining the lineup soon—that powers all four wheels through a variety of available all- and four-wheel-drive systems. There are comfier, roomier, and more fuel-efficient SUVs, but no others that offer the freeing feeling of popping the entire top on a sunny day.

Highs: Go-anywhere capability, classic Jeep styling, modern infotainment features.
Lows: Deserves a more refined manual transmission, clumsy on-road demeanor, pricey even in its most basic trim.
Verdict: More accommodating than ever, but still a specialty SUV for a special buyer.

What's New for 2018?

Although it may not look like it, everything about the Wrangler is all new for 2018, and it wears a new model designation—JL—to differentiate it from the outgoing Wrangler JK that will be sold alongside the new Wrangler for 2018. Designed to honor the Wrangler's ancestry and off-road capability while also improving passenger space, comfort, and on-road performance, the JL is much improved compared with the JK.

Jeep Wrangler Pricing and Which One to Buy

  • Sport: $29,440
  • Sport S: $32,640
  • Rubicon: $39,440
  • Sahara: $39,790
  • Moab: $52,695

We'd start with the two-door model and then step up to the mid-level Sport S trim. It includes a lot of equipment that most people will find essential, such as air conditioning, power windows and locks, heated power side-view mirrors, remote keyless entry, automatic headlamps, a security alarm, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. We'd also add the Technology Group package, which includes an infotainment system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and automatic climate control. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but an eight-speed automatic is available for $2000, and that's the transmission we'd choose.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Likes: Newly available automatic all-wheel-drive system, Rubicon's heavy-duty off-road gear, smooth-shifting automatic.
Dislikes: V-6 could use more low-end power, abrupt clutch action with the manual transmission, rough-riding two-door.

The standard 285-hp 3.6-liter V-6 from the previous-generation Wrangler makes its way under the hood of the new JL and can be paired with a six-speed manual gearbox or a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is optional and teams up with an electric motor to provide additional low-end power. Wranglers are born off-road ready, so part-time four-wheel drive is standard across the range and is controlled by a lever on the center console.

In our testing, a base two-door Wrangler Sport with the V-6 and the six-speed manual transmission sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds; a well-equipped four-door Sahara model with the automatic transmission did the deed in 6.8 seconds. With the four-cylinder hybrid powertrain, the four-door Sahara was slightly quicker at 6.5 seconds to 60 mph. The Rubicon model—which carries additional weight in the form of heavier-duty off-roading equipment—isn't as quick.

Performance at our test track shows that the Wrangler JL is much improved compared with the previous model, but it's merely holding steady with its rivals in some metrics. Although its handling has improved, it's still trucklike in comparison with today's refined SUVs and pickups. The ride in the four-door is acceptably smooth over rough surfaces, but braking distances were inconsistent between our two test vehicles.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

In this segment of gas guzzlers, it doesn't take much to be at the top of the class. The new Wrangler JL's EPA fuel-economy estimates put it ahead of rivals such as the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and the Toyota 4Runner. The V-6–powered four-door Wrangler Sahara returned a 20-mpg result on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test loop, 3 mpg fewer than its EPA rating for highway fuel economy. The turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid model fared much better, delivering 26 mpg—2 mpg more than expected.

Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo

Likes: Classic Wrangler upright driving position, modernized interior doesn't diminish the experience, quick and easy-to-use infotainment.
Dislikes: Fabric door-hinge covers intrude into footwells, limited cargo space in two-door version, no fold-flat seats.

It's not the most spacious or accommodating SUV available, but the Wrangler JL provides a seamless blend of vintage and modern Jeep character. A commanding view of the road—or trail—makes for easy maneuverability, but the view rearward is obscured by thick roof pillars, roll bars, and various grab handles. Need a better view? Just pop the top and remove the doors. Seated close to the upright windshield, the driver and front-seat passenger face a narrow, squared-off dashboard punctuated by round air vents and chunky switchgear for the climate-control system, power windows (if equipped), and infotainment.

A Wrangler JL can be outfitted with only the essentials or can be loaded up with modern infotainment goodies. Its infotainment interface—called Uconnect—is easy to use, quick to respond, and can be displayed on a touchscreen available in three different sizes. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are both optional, as is navigation and a nine-speaker Alpine stereo system.

As an errand runner, the Wrangler offers enough room for groceries and gear, but be aware that its rear seats don’t fold flush with the floor. As you might expect, there's a significant cargo-hauling trade-off for going with the classic two-door Wrangler versus the larger Unlimited four-door model. Fitting just two of our carry-on cases behind the two-door's back seat—versus 10 for the four-door—means packing light if you're adventuring with friends.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The Wrangler JL has not yet been rated by the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), so we are unable to speak to its crashworthiness. To make matters worse, Jeep offers only a handful of optional active-safety features but none of the high-tech equipment that we expect to see on vehicles with price tags stretching into the $40,000-plus and $50,000-plus ranges. Key safety features include:

  • Available blind-spot monitoring
  • Available rear cross-traffic alert
  • Available rear parking sensors

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Jeep doesn't give Wrangler buyers much to get excited about in terms of warranty, with a standard package that includes limited and powertrain policies that toe the same line as its rivals. For extra coin, you can buy an extended warranty from Jeep, including one that provides lifetime coverage but can't be transferred to subsequent owners. The Jeep Wave ownership program is standard on all new Wrangler models and provides two complimentary oil-change and tire-rotation services from the dealer per year for the first two years.

  • Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance is included

Reviewed by Drew Dorian, Assistant Buyer's Guide Editor, November 2018

Jeep Wrangler Generations Explained

Major redesigns occur every five years or so; not much changes in between. Dividing them into generations provides more meaningful distinctions in the shopping process.

Latest Model Year
9th Generation/JL
2018 - Present
8th Generation/JK
2007 - 2018
7th Generation/TJ
1997 - 2006

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Instrumented Test

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited Rubicon Has Plenty of Old-School Swagger

It puts to rest fears that the new Wrangler has gone soft.

September 2018 By Joe Lorio Photos By Bradley Fick



What It Is: The redesigned JL-series Jeep Wrangler in its dimensionally maximized Unlimited (four-door) body style and off-road-optimized Rubicon trim. Backing the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 in this test truck is the new eight-speed automatic transmission.

Why We Tested It and How It Performed: We've previously tested the four-door Rubicon with the standard six-speed manual as well as the Sahara trim level with the V-6/automatic combo, but this is our first test of the Rubicon with the automatic. There are four-cylinder versions, too, and also an upcoming diesel, none of which we’ve tested yet.

Shedding pounds was one goal of the Wrangler redesign, but this maxed-out version crushed the scales to the tune of 4629 pounds. That's 50 pounds heavier than the manual Rubicon and 160 pounds more than the Sahara automatic. More surprising, it's also 121 pounds porkier than a JK Rubicon Unlimited we tested back in 2012.

Although the automatic has the benefit of two extra gears compared with the manual, that made almost no difference at the track, where this Rubicon ambled to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds (exactly the same time as its manual counterpart) and through the quarter-mile in 15.9 seconds at 87 mph (versus 15.9 seconds and 85 mph for the manual). It also wasn't much different from the previous-gen Rubicon with a five-speed automatic, which hit 60 in 7.6 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 16.1 at 85 mph. Without as much hard-core off-road gear, the Sahara with this same powertrain was 0.7 second quicker to 60 and through the quarter.

There also wasn't much daylight between the two Rubicons on the skidpad, with the automatic pulling 0.68 g to the manual's 0.69, both on the same BFGoodrich AllTerrain T/A KO2 tires; with more pavement-friendly footwear, the Sahara managed 0.73 g. The Sahara's tires also enabled much shorter stopping from 70 mph: 176 feet, versus 203 for the Rubicon manual and a long 212 feet for this Rubicon automatic.

What We Like: No Wrangler is going to excel on the test track, particularly not the Rubicon, which is set up for off-road use even more than other Wranglers.

On pavement or off, one of the great joys of driving a Wrangler is doing so al fresco, and the JL version makes it so much easier than before. Despite having what must be the biggest convertible top in the automotive universe, it's not hard to strip the Wrangler Unlimited to its waist. Removing the rear quarter-windows and backlight no longer involves zippers, the header unlatches easily, and, critically, the whole thing can be folded down—and, later, put back up—without a glance at the owner's manual. Jeep also has made it easier to remove the doors and fold down the windshield.

The Wrangler interior, historically a narrow penalty box, makes a great leap forward with this redesign, too. The materials are far better, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' large touchscreen UConnect infotainment system is excellent. Joining it on the dash are plenty of physical switches and buttons and chunky knobs, which seems fitting for a vehicle of this ilk.

What We Don’t Like: Despite all the work Jeep did to curtail the Wrangler's thirst, this Rubicon still quaffs unleaded with gusto. And our automatic, despite its additional gears, returned fuel economy that was considerably worse than we anticipated: 15 mpg overall is the same figure we got for the five-speed 2012 Rubicon Unlimited, while the new stick-shift Rubicon returned 18 mpg in our hands. (The manual, however, did spend a much greater proportion of its test miles cruising on the highway in top gear.) This Rubicon achieved 19 mpg in our highway fuel-economy test, falling far short of its 23-mpg EPA highway estimate.

We're also not fans of the aggressive tip-in that Jeep has programmed into this Pentastar engine. It strikes us as exactly the wrong approach for delicate trail work, and it's merely obnoxious in around-town driving. Overly light steering seems inappropriate for this vehicle as well, in which you don’t want to dial in more steering lock than necessary. Also mildly disappointing is the lack of a left-foot dead pedal, which makes for a somewhat uncomfortable driving position, even though the high-back seats themselves are fine. And, of course, the ride on the Rubicon’s giant off-road tires and beefy suspension is still plenty stiff—so banish any thoughts that the Wrangler has gone soft with this latest redesign.

Verdict: New-school Wrangler with old-school swagger.


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