2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Review

Wrangler Unlimited

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2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Overview

Jeep’s purest 4x4 Wrangler personifies Jeep’s status as an off-roading icon for the past three decades. However, despite its iconic status, the Wrangler needed to change with the times to offer broader appeal, so in 2007, Jeep introduced the JK-generation, which unveiled a four-door Wrangler dubbed “the Unlimited.” Now, a decade later, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has undergone another redesign with a number of meaningful improvements.

The 2018 Wrangler Unlimited received only subtle visual updates, but Jeep enthusiasts could easily spot them. The more-upright grille angles back only slightly at the headlights, and the windshield is more raked than in previous models. Jeep also added vents behind the Unlimited’s front wheels in order to extract air that created MPG-robbing turbulence in previous generations.

One of the Wrangler Unlimited’s signature features is its foldable and removable top options. Like previous generations, the 2018 model continues to offer a canvas soft top and a modular hard top, but Jeep added the option of the Sky One-Touch power sliding soft top. This roof option features fixed rails along the sides that cannot be completely removed, but it has the major advantage of allowing the top of the roof to accordion back in just moments. The Sky One-Touch sliding soft top also features rear quarter windows that pop out in a second.

In addition to adding this functional option, Jeep has also improved the original soft and hard tops on the Wrangler Unlimited. The removable hardtop remains mostly untouched, but it now allows for removal without the heavy bolt in the roll bar that previously took quite a while to unscrew.

On the other hand, the canvas top has been completely reimagined from a usability standpoint. Older Jeep soft tops have been notoriously clumsy to operate as its mechanisms often end up crunching a finger or two. The new soft top, however, features side and rear panels that effortlessly slide out, leaving a fully exposed rear area with the canopy intact. This allows for open-air driving while also providing protection from the sun. If you want to let the sun all the way in, the canvas top now features a quick release latch that lets the roof fold into the rear area without hassle. Anyone who has wrestled with a soft top on previous models will be instantly impressed by how quickly and effortlessly this roof stows away.

Jeep also improved the Wrangler Unlimited’s signature folding windshield. The folding windshield has been an integral component on Jeeps since the first Willys were shipped overseas in WWII because it made them easier to store in shipping containers in wartime. Today, this feature isn’t totally necessary aside from the driver’s desire to open the Wrangler up to the elements in as many ways as possible, so in previous models, it has often been a neglected area for improvement. The windshield on the previous Wrangler Unlimited took hours to fold down, requiring the removal of 28 Torx bolts and key frame components. The 2018 windshield now removes with just 4 bolts and drops in moments.

The tops and windshield improvements are certainly welcome, but the Wrangler Unlimited desperately needed a cabin makeover. Therefore, for the 2018 model, Jeep completely reimagined the interior, adding attractive and useful grip handles, climate control vents, and storage trays. Furthermore, since the Unlimited is a functional four-door Wrangler, Jeep added standard floor heating ducts, which were unavailable in previous models. This useful feature will go a long way in adding to the 2018 model’s daily usability in colder climates.

The Wrangler Unlimited also offers a completely updated infotainment system. The base setup is a 5-inch touch screen, and buyers can upgrade to a 7-inch or 8.4-inch screen. This welcome update features easy-to-use controls and support for features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The four Trims for the Wrangler unlimited are Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon. The base trim, Sport, comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, LED-lined cup holders, push-button start, USB ports, and floor-pan drains underneath the carpets. The Sport S adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, power windows and locks, and a remote keyless entity.

The Sahara is the luxury-minded trim that offers unique 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, LED ambient footwell lighting, an auxiliary power outlet, an additional USB port, and the larger 8.3-inch Uconnect screen. The Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, on the other hand, is the ultimate off-road trim. It features a beefed up suspension, more aggressive tire tread, Dana 44 heavy-duty axles, Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials (front and rear), and an electronically disconnecting front sway bar.

The base engine in the Wrangler Unlimited is a 3.6-liter V6, which carries over from the 2017 model. This engine creates 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can also opt for a new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4. It produces 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This engine works with Jeep’s eTorque mild hybrid setup, and the integrated electric motor adds power assist when driving, provides extended stop-start times, and incorporates regenerative braking.

The engine’s power routes through a 6-speed manual transmission or an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The manual, however, is not available with the turbo engine. With the new eight-speed automatic, fuel economy for the V6 is 18 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. The EPA has not concluded testing of the new 2.0-liter engine at the time of this publishing.

All Wrangler Unlimiteds come with front- and side-impact airbags, rear LATCH child seat anchors, tire pressure monitoring, electronic stability control, and a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines. Available safety features include rear parking sensors and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-path detection.

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has a base MSRP of $30,495 for a Sport trim. A Wrangler Unlimited Sahara starts at $37,345, and the range-topping Unlimited Rubicon starts at $40,495. The Wrangler Unlimited has become the preferred version of the Wrangler - even over the original two-door variant. The Unlimited offers all of the rugged capability that Jeep is known for but with four doors and five seats to make it a viable family vehicle as well.

Updated

From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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