2018 Jeep Wrangler: Monthly Update for January 2019
by Calvin Kim, Vehicle Test Engineer
Where Did We Drive It?
January was a busy month for our long-term 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. After a big road trip up north at the end of the year, it straight away went on another road trip at the beginning of January. Then it finished out the month by getting dirty with some much-needed off-roading. After all of these miles, the consensus is that, no, the new JL-series of Wrangler is not the ideal on-road machine, but it is competent on pavement.
There's nothing we can do about the Rubicon's on-road handling behavior, but we certainly can do something to address the interior comfort issues our test drivers have been experiencing. Namely, that meant reinstalling the hardtop.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
It's fairly easy to keep the Jeep's fuel economy up with long stints on the road, but just one off-road trip can knock that average back down.
Five fill-ups from the beginning to the middle of January gave us an average of 17.4 mpg, right about where we should expect it.
The last fill, the one with the off-road action, came in at just 15.9 mpg. Not bad by any stretch, but enough to bring the lifetime average down nearly a full mpg.
Average lifetime mpg: 16.8
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.7
Best range: 357.3 miles
Current odometer: 18,606 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"A few weeks ago I attempted to drive a Honda CR-V on this trail in the Angeles National Forest. It's not a crazy-technical trail, but the CR-V was quickly limited by its front-wheel drive (not AWD), not-fresh tires and limited approach angle. So I aborted the CR-V drive. Then I took the Wrangler, which was overkill for the task. But that's OK. It was loads of fun to rail the Jeep through vast mud puddles that would have swallowed most other vehicles. It's definitely like hitting the 'easy' button. And there's nothing wrong with that. Washing off the mud? Not so easy." — Jason Kavanagh, senior vehicle test engineer
"I've always wanted to explore the old Ridge Route, the first paved highway to connect the Great Central Valley to the L.A. Basin. It opened in 1915, was paved in 1917 and served travelers until a bypass (U.S. Route 99) was built in the 1930s. When it was in service, it had 697 curves and took about 12 hours to travel from Bakersfield to L.A.!
"Much of this historic road is abandoned now, but there are remnants of it, as well as structures of the old inns that used to line it. Editor Jay and I had initially tried to drive to one of those establishments, the Tumble Inn, when we had the CR-V for the weekend. But when we realized that would require about 15 miles of off-roading, we had to put off the excursion until we had something more capable.
"Sure enough, the broken pieces of rock wall, mud puddles, ruts, soft dirt and steep approaches were of no consequence to the Wrangler. What fun splashing through that terrain and getting to our ultimate destination, which is now no more than a rock wall, steps and a stone arch but still awe-inspiring." — Caroline Pardilla, senior copy editor
"It's my first time driving the Wrangler with the soft top instead of the hardtop. There's more wind noise now, and there was plennnnty of it with the hardtop before. Bummer. On the windy freeway drive, the Wrangler got blown around in the lane a bit, but not as badly as I expected. The soft top, however, flapped noisily and would at times un-seat at the windows, causing a loud sucking sound momentarily. So, yeah, the Wrangler may not be for you if civility is a priority. Also, water is wet." — Jason Kavanagh