2018 Jeep Wrangler JK Review
Edmunds expert review
You might have heard there's a new Wrangler for 2018. This is not it. The Wrangler JK — the JK part refers to Jeep's name for this Wrangler generation — carries over from the previous year unchanged. But it should appeal to the Jeep purists who lust after the old Wrangler in all its authentic and impractical glory.
Ignoring the more modern and redesigned 2018 Jeep Wrangler, the Wrangler JK makes a good case for itself as an entertaining off-road vehicle. It's more capable than any other SUV, and its relatively low price is hard to beat. It has, however, sacrificed modernity along the way. The Wrangler JK isn't very comfortable, its safety scores are worryingly low, and most modern tech that is standard on other cars isn't available on the Wrangler JK.
You'll likely be interested in the 2018 Wrangler JK if you're dissatisfied with the new Wrangler design or if you value off-road capability above all else and you're willing to sacrifice creature comforts for a price discount.
What's new for 2018
Trim levels & features
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK is an off-road-focused SUV available in a pair of body styles: the two-door, four-passenger Wrangler and the four-door, five-passenger Wrangler Unlimited. Each is available in three core trim levels: Sport, Sahara and Rubicon. A vinyl convertible roof is standard on both, and a hardtop with easily removable front panels above is available. All Wrangler JKs are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine (285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque) and come with four-wheel drive as standard. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic is optional.
Other than a few work trucks out there, it doesn't get much more basic than the base Wrangler Sport trim level. The two-door Sport includes 16-inch steel wheels, on- and off-road tires, a full-size spare tire, skid plates, tow hooks, foglights, removable doors, a fold-down windshield, manual mirrors and locks, full metal doors with manually operated windows, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver's seat, cloth upholstery, a tilt-only steering wheel, a one-piece folding, tumble-forward back seat, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Unlimited (four-door) version gets a bigger gas tank, air conditioning and a 60/40-split folding, tumble-forward rear seat as standard.
The Power Convenience Group adds power windows and locks, keyless entry, heated power exterior mirrors, an alarm and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Cold Weather package adds the Power Convenience Group's equipment plus remote start and heated seats. Also available for the Sport are 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning (for the two-door) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Sahara adds the Power Convenience Group items, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED foglights, additional painted exterior body panels and trim, hood insulation for reduced noise, air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and satellite radio. The Sahara Unlimited differs only with tubular side steps and grab handles for rear passengers.
The Rubicon Wrangler leads the pack with a host of off-road goodies. It starts with the basic Sport equipment and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, special tires, a heavy-duty Dana 44 front axle (matching the standard-spec Dana 44 rear axle), shorter 4.10 axle gearing (standard with the manual transmission; optional with the automatic), an extra-low crawl ratio, electronic front and rear locking differentials, an electronically disconnecting front anti-roll bar, rock rails, automatic LED headlamps and the underhood insulation. Inside, you get standard air conditioning plus the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a 115-volt outlet and satellite radio. The above-mentioned Power Convenience Group is an optional extra on the two-door Rubicon, but it's standard on the Rubicon Unlimited.
Even though you can only get the 4.10 gearing with a Rubicon, the Sport and the Sahara are eligible for an upgrade to a 3.73 ratio, which gets you much of the way there. The standard ratio is a modest 3.21. Also optional on the Sport and the Sahara is a limited-slip rear differential, and the Sport and the Rubicon can be equipped with half doors that include plastic side windows and manual locks.
Optional on every Wrangler is a nine-speaker Alpine sound system and the Connectivity Group, which adds a tire-pressure monitor display, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a trip computer, and an upgraded version of the Uconnect touchscreen that includes a USB port, media player interface and navigation. All trims are also available with a higher-quality soft top as well as a black or a body-colored hardtop.
On top of all the optional equipment to sort through, there are several special-edition packages (Willys Wheeler, Golden Eagle, Freedom Edition, Altitude, etc.) that include items such as the limited-slip rear differential, various wheel and exterior trim choices, unique badging, privacy glass, mud terrain tires, rock rails, varying crawl ratios and specialized seat embroidery. Even before you include the vast suite of available aftermarket parts in the equation, the Wrangler is one of the most customizable vehicles on the road today.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (3.6L V6 | 5-speed automatic | 4WD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Jeep Wrangler has been completely redesigned and is now referred to as the Jeep Wrangler JL. This test, however, refers to the Jeep Wrangler JK, which is still on sale as a new model but is essentially the same as the 2017 model. As a result, our findings remain applicable to the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK.
Noise & vibration5.0
Ease of use7.5
Getting in/getting out4.5
Child safety seat accommodation5.5
Audio & navigation7.0
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.