I’ll have to agree the 4 door Jeep Wrangler is definitely the more accessible of the Wranglers but the two-door 2018 Wrangler Rubicon that I had for a week is the one that most closely matches the spirit of the original. Having said that all 2.0 Turbo engines come with the new 8 speed auto and I have to say you don’t miss the 6-speed manual transmission at all. If you still want the manual you have to get the V6.
My last foray into Jeep Wrangler world was a 2017 Jeep Wrangler Willy’s Wheeler that had the 6-speed and the V6 and was somewhat unrefined. The manual took a bit of getting used to with a high clutch take up and it was quite noisy, mostly from the soft top tester we had but also the drive-train.
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is completely new, in virtually every detail, and it’s the first all-new one in a decade, now known by the JL chassis code instead of JK. The new one is thoroughly modern inside and out and it’s larger, the two-door model gains more than an inch in wheelbase and two and a half inches in length.
Under The Hood
The 3.6-liter V6 is still the standard engine but the options have tripled thanks to a new turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with electric assist, which is classified as a hybrid and the soon to be released turbo diesel. The turbo 4 delivers 270 hp @ 5,250 and a healthy 295 lb-ft @ 3,000, 35 pound-feet more than the V6. This makes it much more accessible, especially when driving round town.
This little Jeep is pretty quick, we tested it with traction control off in 2WD mode and after a few attempts with too much wheel-spin finally managed to get it from 0-60 in 6.1 seconds. Obviously with the aerodynamics of a brick this rapid pace slows, but all in all it’s quicker than I expected.
The Rubicon comes with all the off road goodies you need, at least until you decide to embark on some serious rock crawling. It comes with front and rear differential locks and you can disconnect the sway bar if travelling over very large rocks and you need more axle articulation. We kept everything as is, engaged 4WD and headed for a short section of off road called the “Little Dipper”, a short stretch of rocky and steep trail.
It’s comes as no surprise that the Wrangler had absolutely no problem getting across this trail and only when I drove through some muddy wet ruts did we experience some wheel slippage. This is the Jeep’s bread and butter and it’s so much fun you find yourself constantly searching for any unpaved piece of road to test its mettle.
Huge Improvement On Road
That new 2.0 Turbo gives the new Wrangler lots of real-world punch and acceleration is now plenty quick enough to easily keep pace with and pass traffic. It does run out of revs pretty quickly but that wave of torque is really all you need for quick forward progress. The 8 speed transmission works very well and shifts smoothly, drops a cog or two when you need it and is a very capable partner for the turbo 4.
The steering is much better than before, the vagueness of the old model has been eliminated, however, you have to pilot this Jeep, two hands on the wheel or it does have a tendency to wander. This is somewhat expected since it’s a low geared set up for when you get into tricky situations off road.
A couple of times I had to use the brakes harder than expected and though reassuring the nose does dive somewhat. One issue on my soft top tester though was the noise, especially at higher speed. My mild OCD would have me optioning the hardtop, both for noise reduction and ease of access into the rear cargo area. It’s certainly not convenient to have to remove the rear window for larger items. That said the new soft top is much easier to remove, I didn’t try it though since rain was in the forecast.
Everything looks and feels a whole lot nice inside than before, my Rubicon had quite a few options checked including Leather heated seats, a boon since the soft top can be drafty. The heaters on these are some of the best I’ve used; if it’s a hot butt you need then look no further.
The cabin has a rugged and durable feel to it and if you’re bored, you can count the number of Willy’s Jeep logos on vehicle. The seats are decent but it’s not easy to find the ideal position, I found myself a bit too close to the steering wheel most of the time.
My tester came with 8.4 inch Uconnect screen and as usual provides excellent functionality and is still one of the best available in my opinion.
It offers support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
My loaded Rubicon had a base price of $37,945 but with options this rose to $49,455 since the Turbo 4 runs $1,000 and the 8 speed auto another $2,000. Add the leather seats, shift knob and parking brake handle ($1,395) together with the Infotainment Package ($1,495) and it easy to add $10K worth of options.
Storage space in the 2 door is not generous but folding the rear seats flat provides 49.9 cubic feet of space to play with. It’s somewhat tricky for rear seat passengers to enter so if you have kids or other folks you want to carry around, I would get the 4 door.
How Would I Spec It?
Even though new Turbo 4 is a gem I would have to get a Rubicon Unlimited with the new EcoDiesel, which offers 260 horsepower and 442lb-ft of torque, which should provide a great drive. I would expect a premium for that engine though. All in all Jeep has done an excellent job of updating this car and with much improved on road manners it becomes a much easier choice.
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Numbers
BASE PRICE: $37,945
PRICE AS TESTED: $49,455
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, 4WD, 4-pass, 2-door SUV
ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 + AC motor
POWER: 270 hp @ 5,250
TORQUE: 295 lb-ft @ 3,000
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
CURB WEIGHT: 4,132 lb
0-60 MPH: 6.1 sec
CARGO SPACE: 12.9 cubic feet, 46.9 with seats folded down
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON: 24/23/25 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 19.8
PROS: Excellent new 2.0 Turbo motor, spectacularly capable off-road, new refined on road manners,
CONS: Soft top rattle, complicated rear seat and cargo area access