2018 Jeep Wrangler: Monthly Update for June 2019
by Dan Edmunds, Director, Vehicle Evaluation
It would be an understatement to say our 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon had a busy June. This month it accumulated a whopping total of 3,896 miles, and all but about 400 of them came in one massive working vacation by yours truly. My wife and I went north to visit my parents on the southern Oregon coast, and then I continued north into Washington for the reveal of the 2020 Ford Explorer. After that, we spent a couple of days sightseeing near Snoqualmie Pass before returning south to Bend, Oregon, for the reveal of the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD pickups. Before heading home, we hung around a couple of extra days so I could write my First Drive stories on deadline in between visits to nearby relatives.
Why take the Wrangler on a trip like this? For one, my wife finds the seats to be agreeable. And even though the ride is busy, she finds that it does not aggravate her tendency for motion sickness. Both of these are rare to find in one vehicle, so I wasn't about to argue. Of course the Jeep always gives us the option to take off-road side trips. We did a fair bit of that because I have this obsessive hobby called geocaching, which usually involves lots of hiking and off-roading.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
As you might imagine, this trip was top-heavy with highway driving. There was some city mileage, too, but I doubt it amounted to even 10% of the total. Even so, the trip average was just 19.6 mpg, which technically does round up to the Wrangler's EPA combined rating of 20 mpg. But it falls short of its 23 mpg EPA highway rating. So why didn't it do better?
There's one reason we've covered before. Ours is a high-riding, tall-fendered, fat-tired Rubicon, which is simply less likely to match the rating than the skinnier and lower-riding Sport and Sahara models. But this trip also included a very specific complicating factor: fierce headwinds. The first two tanks were completely nuts, and the Columbia River Gorge later on gave us more of the same. And every time we had wind, it was a head- or crosswind. We never had tailwinds to balance things out.
Still, conditions were at least windless on the final two tanks of the return trip. One of them amounted to an eyebrow-raising 23.8 mpg, and this result was doubly impressive because it came on a tank that persisted for 448.7 miles — a new best-range record by more than 50 miles.
Average lifetime mpg: 17.7
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 24.6
Best range: 448.7 miles
Current odometer: 33,186 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"Will this wind never end? Direct headwinds I can deal with, other than watching the fuel gauge go into free fall. But these are front-quarter head- and crosswinds, my least favorite. And they're not only strong, but they're gusty, too. So I get to watch the fuel gauge plummet, but as a bonus I'm also obliged to make constant minor course corrections. Solid front axles are great in a boulder field but not here."
"Despite the wind, the engine and transmission have things under control. The powertrain always settles into the right gear, and there's no dithering back and forth as the wind lets up or the grade changes." — Dan Edmunds, director, vehicle evaluation
"One thing I like is the Wrangler's air conditioner. It really blows cold. And the eyeball-style vents are simple to aim or close off entirely. What's more, the windshield is close enough to the dash that my suction-cup quick-release iPhone mount allows the phone to hang over the dash such that one of the eyeball vents can cool the phone. No more thermal shutdowns or too-hot glass touchscreens with this setup."
"The tires seem to be generating more road noise than they used to, but this rig does have over 30,000 miles on it. The tread of these original tires is much shorter and therefore less squishy than it used to be, so the tires are probably less able to dampen tread noise that's created as they roll down the road. That tread seems to be worn evenly enough, but there is a bit of feathering along the edges. That may be contributing, too. The tires of my own JK Wrangler got increasingly noisy as their tread steadily wore down, so this isn't a surprise. My guess is they'll be used up at 40,000 miles, at which point we'll get new ones that should be somewhat quieter."
"We spent some time looking for the heated seat controls but couldn't find them. My wife, who is something of a heated-seat connoisseur, swore she knew where they were from the last time we were in this a couple of weeks ago. But then we both facepalmed after realizing we were both thinking about the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon we'd had in for testing. That one had been the same color inside and out. There's really no difference between the two inside (up front, at least). But it turned out that the Gladiator had been equipped with the Cold Weather package, and this Wrangler, which was purchased in Las Vegas, is not. Frowny face." — Dan Edmunds
"Even as other infotainment systems debut in newer vehicles, I'm still loving this 8.4-inch Uconnect system. It still feels fresh and offers capability and simplicity in one tidy package. In our Jeep, the screen is especially easy to reach. And with Apple CarPlay, which I use religiously, I never have to think about how to interact with it because it operates the same in virtually every car. The Jeep is somewhat unique in that just about any of its four standard USB ports can supply data to CarPlay. A prompt comes up asking if I want to switch whenever a second phone is plugged in, at which point it takes nothing more than a simple yes or no to assign control."