Looks matter, and function matters, too, but the Wrangler also has a firm hold on the American psyche. In June 2017, the Jeep Wrangler was deemed the top American-Made Vehicle in Cars.com’s annual ranking of light-duty vehicles based on domestic-parts content, U.S. engine and transmission sourcing, and American manufacturing jobs per vehicle. Notably, second place went to the 2017 Jeep Cherokee. Each new-generation Wrangler launch attracts attention and raises emotions. When you change an icon, you better not mess it up in the eyes of its fans.
The new Wrangler JL was formally introduced at the annual Los Angeles Auto Show with an impressive specifications sheet, and we recently got behind the wheel ourselves. There’s more on the new generation below, but first let’s take a look at the initial wave of 2018 Jeep Wranglers, in what will very likely be the last year for the Wrangler JK generation. If you’ve been holding off but want to buy one of the outgoing models, now may be your last chance. It will also be your last opportunity to buy a new Wrangler at the “old” pricing, as the JL models cost about $3,000 more than the JKs.
2018 “old-style” Jeep Wrangler JK series
After the new-generation JL Wranglers hit dealership lots, you’ll be able to identify the JKs quickly even if you’re not up on details like turn signal placement. All 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK models have a “Wrangler JK” decal on the driver side.
The Wrangler JK lineup consists of four models: the Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon, with starting prices ranging from $23,395 for a base JK Sport two-door with a six-speed manual transmission, to $37,445 for a 4-door JK Rubicon. Special editions including the Golden Eagle, Freedom Edition, Altitude, Willys Wheeler, and Rubicon Recon, offer additional style, comfort, and off-road options. Each one builds on one of the four existing standard models.
Previously, the two-door versions were called “Wrangler” and 4-door models were “Wrangler Unlimited.” That changes in 2018, with all models and trims available in either two-door or four-door versions and no separate Unlimited designation. The difference isn’t just extra doors; four-door Wranglers have 1.6-inches of additional rear seat leg room and 18.7 cubic feet more storage space behind the second row of seats than the two-door models.
All 2018 JKs have a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, rated by Jeep at 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
The various Wrangler JK models, trims, and editions can be upgraded with loads of options and accessories to personalize the ride. Across all JK variations, however, the four-door models cost approximately $4,000 more than two-door versions (the range is $3,800 to $4,100). An automatic transmission adds $1,400 to the base price. So even without comfort, convenience, and off-road performance options, the difference between a two-door JK with a stick shift and a four-door JK with an automatic is about $5,400.
2018 JK Wrangler Sport
The base model JK Wrangler Sport starts at $23,995 for a two-door and $27,895 with four doors. The Sport has 16-inch steel wheels, an AM/FM radio and CD with MP3 compatibility and an auxiliary input jack, tow hooks and skid plates, the Command-Trac 4×4 system, Dana front and rear axles, a black soft top, and a washable interior with drain plugs.
Three special editions are based on the JK Sport. The Golden Eagle adds 17-inch wheels, off-road rock rails, winch-capable bumpers, a premium tan soft top, air conditioning, upgraded seats, and style changes such as body-color fender flares and Golden Eagle decals.
The Willys Wheeler edition, a nod to the original Jeep manufacturer, is also based on the Sport. The Willys Wheeler upgrades the Sport’s wheels and tires, adds Jeep’s limited slip differential, rock rails, slush mats and grab handles, and styling accents.
The Willys Wheeler W edition goes one step further and adds air conditioning, which is not standard with the Sport.
2018 JK Wrangler Sport S
The JK Sport S has a $26,995 starting price for the 2-door and $31,095 for the four-door model, which steps up the Sport with commonly ordered options as standard equipment. The Sport S includes 17-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, a chrome-and-leather-wrapped shift knob, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and deep-tinted windows.
Building on the Sport S, the Freedom Edition adds fancier 17-inch wheels, black leather-trimmed seats, upgraded off-road bumpers and rock rails, an upgraded soft top, and a 115V power outlet. The Freedom Edition also includes a power convenience group with power windows, power door locks, power adjustable mirrors, keyless entry, and a security system. Black accents and an edition decal are also part of the package.
2018 JK Wrangler Sahara
The JK Wrangler Sahara, the most gussied-up trim level, starts at $30,445 with two doors and $34,225 for the four-door model. The Sahara’s standard features include 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, side steps, body-color fender flares, embroidered cloth seats, LED headlamps and fog lamps, and a body-color grille with high-glass silver metallic accents.
The Altitude Edition is a blacked-out version of the Sahara. The Altitude adds black leather heated seats, a body-color hardtop, power bulge hood, titanium colored interior accents, and black exterior accents and wheels.
2018 JK Wrangler Rubicon
With starting prices of $33,645 for a 2-door and $37,445 for a four-door, the Rubicon is the most costly, as well as the most rugged, standard JK Wrangler model for off-road work and play. The Rubicon has 17-inch aluminum wheels with 32-inch mud-terrain tires, locking front and rear axles, Jeep’s Rock-Trac 4×4 system, electronic front sway bay disconnect, rock rails, LED headlamps and fog lamps, and embroidered cloth seats.
Bumping up the Rubicon, the Rubicon Recon Edition adds black leather heated seats with red seat belts, winch-capable front and rear bumpers, premium off-road rock rails, a Dana 44 front axle, cast differential covers, a power dome vented hood, premium soft top, remote start, and automatic temperature control.
|Trim||2018 JK Sport||2018 JK Sport S||2018 JK Sahara||2018 JK Rubicon|
|Base price 2-door||$23,995||$26,995||$30,445||$33,645|
|Base price 4-door||$27,895||$31,095||$34,245||$37,445|
|Drive wheels||4-wheel drive||4-wheel drive||4-wheel drive||4-wheel drive|
|4-Wheel drive||Command-Trac Part-Time 4WD||Command-Trac Part-Time 4WD||Command-Trac Part-Time 4WD||Rock-Track Part-Time 4WD|
|Base engine||3.6L Pentastar V-6||3.6L Pentastar V-6||3.6L Pentastar V-6||3.6L Pentastar V-6|
|Base horsepower||285 hp||285 hp||285 hp||285 hp|
|Base torque||260 ft-lb||260 ft-lb||260 ft-lb||260 ft-lb|
|Transmission||6-speed manual||6-speed manual||6-speed manual||6-speed manual|
|Fuel||Regular gas||Regular gas||Regular gas||Regular gas|
|Fuel capacity (gallons)||18.6 gallons||18.6 gallons||18.6 gallons||18.6 gallons|
|Fuel economy 2-door||17 mpg city/21 mpg highway||17 mpg city/21 mpg highway||17 mpg city/21 mpg highway||17 mpg city/21 mpg highway|
|Fuel economy 4-door||16 mpg city/21 mpg highway||16 mpg city/21 mpg highway||16 mpg city/21 mpg highway||16 mpg city/21 mpg highway|
|Base wheels||16-inch steel||17-inch aluminum||18-inch aluminum||17-inch aluminum|
|Body style||2-door and 4-door SUV||2-door and 4-door SUV||2-door and 4-door SUV||2-door and 4-door SUV|
|Storage behind 2nd-row seats||12.8 cu ft (2-door)/31.5 cu ft (4-door)||12.8 cu ft (2-door)/31.5 cu ft (4-door)||12.8 cu ft (2-door)/31.5 cu ft (4-door)||12.8 cu ft (2-door)/31.5 cu ft (4-door)|
|Storage behind 1st-row seats||56.5 cu ft (2-door)/70.6 cu ft (4-door)||56.5 cu ft (2-door)/70.6 cu ft (4-door)||56.5 cu ft (2-door)/70.6 cu ft (4-door)||56.5 cu ft (2-door)/70.6 cu ft (4-door)|
|Max Towing capacity||2,000 pounds||2,000 pounds||2,000 pounds||2,000 pounds|
|Seat upholstery||Cloth||Cloth||Embroidered cloth||Embroidered cloth|
The “new-style” 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL series
The 2018 Wrangler (called JL internally) made its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. “Redoing the Wrangler is like Halley’s Comet,” joked FCA head of design Ralph Gilles. He has a point: a new version of America’s most emblematic off-roader doesn’t come around very often. For our full first drive thoughts, click here.
Does it still look like a Wrangler?
Evolutionary at best, the JL-series model continues to feature a tall grille with seven vertical slots, round headlights, flared fenders, and a rear-mounted spare tire — how could it not? Its overall silhouette hasn’t changed much, either, though the four-door Unlimited model gets a slightly longer wheelbase. We like what we see; this is precisely how you redesign an icon. We hope Land Rover takes note as it prepares the next-generation Defender.
Perhaps the most notable modification up front is that the turn signals moved from the grille to the fenders, as previewed by one of Jeep’s concepts in Moab, Utah. In profile, the JL to adopts a more rakish windshield, a small concession made in the name of basic aerodynamics. The back end receives only minor tweaks, such as new-look lights inspired by the ones found on the Renegade crossover.
The hood, the doors, and the windshield frame are made out of aluminum in a bid to help make the Wrangler 200 pounds lighter than its predecessor. The roof comes off like it always has, and there’s a soft top option that’s easier to install than before, but the Wrangler gains a power-operated folding top (essentially an immense sunroof) for the first time. Note it’s the only top option that’s not removable, though users are able to take off the rear quarter windows and keep them in purpose-designed storage bags. We’re happy to report the windshield continues to fold down, and the doors are still removable in a pinch.
The Wrangler JL keeps its predecessor’s flat, upright dash, a heritage-laced tribute to the original Willys and the CJ models Jeep built for decades. You will be able to start the engine by pressing a button instead of turning a key, and the instrument cluster incorporates a configurable 7-inch color touchscreen. There is even a large screen on the dashboard for Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system and several USB ports. Really, Jeep is dead serious about modernizing the Wrangler where appropriate. The list of available tech features includes a blind-spot monitoring system and forward collision warning.
What’s under the sheet metal?
The Wrangler’s standard engine is a naturally-aspirated, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 carried over from the outgoing model and slightly updated. It makes 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and it shifts through either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. The mechanical tweaks improve fuel economy; the Unlimited model now returns 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway with the manual gearbox, or 18/23, respectively, with the automatic. In comparison, its predecessor posted 16 and 20, respectively.
Suspension tweaks and an electro-hydraulic power steering system make the Wrangler more comfortable around town and on the freeway, but that doesn’t mean it’s going soft. The solid axles that greatly contribute to the Wrangler’s off-road prowess remain. And, of course, four-wheel drive comes standard. For more wheel articulation, you can disconnect the sway bars by pushing a button on the center console.
Will the Wrangler go diesel, hybrid, or both?
The short answer is yes.
The Wrangler’s optional engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 268 hp and 295 lb-ft. Exclusively offered with an eight-speed automatic transmission designed by ZF, the four is part of a mild hybrid system that includes a belt-driven starter-generator and a 48-volt battery. The Wrangler can’t drive on electricity alone, and there’s no plug-in option in the works, but the setup improves efficiency and low-speed performance.
We have even better news for off-road enthusiasts. Jeep promises the Wrangler will get a 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine in 2019, so the rumors were accurate here, too. The idea is far from groundbreaking; tens of thousands of current-generation models are roaming the streets of Europe with an oil-burner rumbling between the fenders. The reputation of diesel-powered cars — including the ones built by Jeep and sister company Ram — has taken quite a hit in the past few months, but Jeep is pressing on nonetheless.
When can I buy one?
Production of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler has started at the company’s Toledo, Ohio, assembly plant. The current JK-series Wranglers will be built alongside their replacements for approximately six months. The new model is expected to arrive in showrooms early next year.
How to choose a 2018 Wrangler JL
There are seven 2018 Wrangler JL trims to choose from, at least before Jeep starts announcing special editions. The Sport, Sport S, and Rubicon are each available in both two-door and four-door versions. The Sahara is only available as a four-door, a change from previous generations. All trims come standard with the 285-hp Pentastar V6 and a new six-speed manual transmission with an optional new eight-speed automatic shifter.
As usual, and even more so with the JLs, Wranglers can have a variety of door and top configurations — this year including a new non-removable power top.
Pricing has just been announced for the all-new 2018 JL Wranglers, and they cost approximately $3,000 more than the 2018 JK “old-style” models. The new Wranglers are in production in the Wrangler plant in Toledo, Ohio, but aren’t expected to arrive at dealerships until an unspecified “early in 2018.” While you’re waiting for JLs to show up on dealership lots, you can use Jeep’s Wrangler JL build-and-price configurator to checkout the new style along with exterior and interior colors, packages, options, and accessories.
2018 Wrangler JL Sport
The base JL Wrangler Sport lacks many of the niceties of the other trims, but none take away from its high functionality. The Sport trim starts at $26,995 for the two-door model and $30,495 for the four-door. With the Sport, you get manual windows with regular glass and manual door locks. The other trims get power windows and door locks as well as deep-tinted sunscreen rear and quarter windows. Power this-and-that doesn’t matter much for many Wrangler drivers, so if you want it simple, the Sport is the trim to choose — although Sport models without many options may be harder to find on dealer lots.
All new JL Wranglers including the Sport have fog lamps, 17-inch steel wheels, two tow hooks in front and one in the rear, and skid plates. The Sport doesn’t include air conditioning as a standard feature with two-doors, but A/C is included with the four-door versions.
The Sport has push-button start, cruise control, an audio system with eight speakers, a media hub with a full-function USB port and an AUX input. All trims have standard cloth seats, hill-start assist, tire pressure monitoring, and a rear backup camera with dynamic guidelines.
The only option groups available for the Sport model are a black three-piece hardtop and a trailer tow and heavy-duty electrical group.
2018 Wrangler JL Sport S
The most popular Sport upgrades from past years are included in the new Sport S. The two-door version starts at $30,195 and four-door pricing begins at $33,695. Power windows, power door locks, tinted rear and quarter windows, power heated mirrors, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and manual air conditioning for both two-door and four-door models. Unlike the plain Sport trim, the Sport S trim can be outfitted with a wide range of option groups and packages.
2018 Wrangler JL Sahara
The new Sahara, available only as a four-door model with a $37,345 starting price, has the longest list of standard comfort and convenience features of the Wrangler trim versions. The Sahara’s Command-Trac 4×4 system is augmented with a Select-Trac shift-on-the-fly transfer case.
The Sahara has automatic headlamps, 18-inch aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires, sidesteps, and dual-zone automatic temperature control. Saharas can be ordered with leather seat trim, with heated seats in an option package. The Sahara has Uconnect 4C NAV with an 8.4-inch display.
2018 Wrangler JL Rubicon
The most serious off-road Wrangler version, the Rubicon, is even more purpose-built for rugged terrain than the other already uber-capable trims. The two-door Rubicon starts at $36,995 and the four-door base price is $40,495.The Rubicon has a lower ratio 4.10:1 axle ratio, heavy-duty Dana 44 solid front and rear axles, and a different four-wheel drive setup.
The Rubicon’s Rock-Trac 4×4 system works with also has a Select-Trac transfer case, Tru-Lok electronic remote locking front and rear differential, and an electronic front sway bar disconnect.
Rubicons come with automatic headlamps, rock rails, all-terrain tires. Rubicons also include dual-zone automatic temperature control and Uconnect 4C NAV with an 8.4-inch display.
|Trim||2018 JL Sport||2018 JL Sport S||2018 JL Sahara||2018 JL Rubicon|
|Base price 2-door||$26,995||$30,195||No 2-door||$36,995|
|Base price 4-door||$30,495||$33,695||$37,345||$40,495|
|Drive wheels||4-wheel drive||4-wheel drive||4-wheel drive||4-wheel drive|
|4-wheel drive||Command-Trac 4×4||Command-Trac 4×4||Command-Trac 4×4 with Select-Trac transfer case||Rock-Trac 4×4|
|Base engine||3.6-liter Pentastar V6||3.6-liter Pentastar V6||3.6-liter Pentastar V6||3.6-liter Pentastar V6|
|Base horsepower||285 hp @ 6,400 RPM||285 hp @ 6,400 RPM||285 hp @ 6,400 RPM||285 hp @ 6,400 RPM|
|Base torque||260 lb-ft @ 4,800 RPM||260 lb-ft @ 4,800 RPM||260 lb-ft @ 4,800 RPM||260 lb-ft @ 4,800 RPM|
|Transmission||6-speed manual/8-speed automatic||6-speed manual/8-speed automatic||6-speed manual/8-speed automatic||6-speed manual/8-speed automatic|
|Fuel||Regular gas||Regular gas||Regular gas||Regular gas|
|Fuel capacity 2-door||18.5 gallons||18.5 gallons||No 2-door||18.5 gallons|
|Fuel capacity 4-door||Not applicable||21.5 gallons||21.5 gallons||21.5 gallons|
|Fuel economy (mpg city/highway/combined)||17 /23 /19 (manual), 18 /23 /20 (automatic)||17 /23 /19 (manual), 18 /23 /20 (automatic)||17 /23 /19 (manual), 18 /23 /20 (automatic)||17 /23 /19 (manual), 18 /23 /20 (automatic)|
|Base wheels||17-inch steel||17-inch aluminum||18-inch aluminum||17-inch aluminum|
|Body style||2-door and 4-door SUV||2-door and 4-door SUV||4-door SUV||2-door and 4-door SUV|
|Storage behind 2nd-row seats||N/A cu ft 2-door/31.7 cu ft 4-door||N/A cu ft 2-door/31.7 cu ft 4-door||No 2-door||N/A cu ft 2-door/31.7 cu ft 4-door|
|Storage behind 1st- row seats||N/A cu ft 2-door/72.4 cu ft 4-door||N/A cu ft 2-door/72.4 cu ft 4-door||N/A cu ft 2-door/72.4 cu ft 4-door||N/A cu ft 2-door/72.4 cu ft 4-door|
|Max Towing capacity 2-door||2,000 pounds||2,000 pounds||No 2-door||2,000 pounds|
|Max Towing capacity 4-door||Not applicable||3,500 pounds||3,500 pounds||3,500 pounds|
Are the rumors of a Wrangler pickup true?
Jeep has built several pickups in the past, and the brand has been teasing us with the prospect of a modern Wrangler-based truck since it introduced the Gladiator concept (pictured below) during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Several aftermarket companies have developed kits that allow you to turn the current JK Wrangler into a truck inspired by the CJ-8, but Jeep has cautiously opted to steer clear of the segment.
That’s about to change. Company officials have confirmed the next Wrangler will spawn a pickup for the first time ever. From what we can tell, it will be identical to the four-door Unlimited model, from the tip of the front bumper to the C-pillar, and it will receive a medium-sized bed beyond that. It will be more of a lifestyle-focused model for outdoors enthusiasts than a dedicated workhorse developed to put in long hours on a construction site, however. Automotive News has learned the top will come off, making it the first topless pickup truck in America since the 1989 Dodge Dakota Convertible — the Chevrolet SSR notwithstanding.
Buyers holding out for the pickup truck (which is tentatively named Scrambler) will need to be patient. It was originally scheduled to arrive a few short months after the standard model, but Manley told The Detroit News that its launch has been delayed until late 2019, meaning it will land in showrooms as a 2020 model.
Update with all-new Wrangler JL trim level prices.