2018 Jeep Wrangler: Monthly Update for March 2019
by Calvin Kim, Vehicle Test Engineer
Where Did We Drive It?
With California's torrential rainstorm season over, March proved to be a busy month for our 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. It was used as a support vehicle for two off-road comparison tests, and then promptly went on a road trip to Oregon at the hands of Dan Edmunds, our director of vehicle testing. Due to all the cargo-carrying requirements, we swapped back to the hardtop, which gave us easier access to the rear cargo area, as well as solid surfaces to attach suction cups and mount-rigging for camera equipment.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Just how busy was our Rubicon's March? We achieved a record number of 17 fill-ups and traveled more than 4,200 miles. With the majority of those miles on the highway, it's no wonder our average lifetime fuel economy rose by 0.3 mpg.
Average lifetime mpg: 17.2
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 22.3
Best range: 378.3 miles
Current odometer: 25,127 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
On May 3, 2019, NHTSA will issue a recall for 52 2019 Jeep Wrangler and 2019 Ram 1500 models that may have an improperly machined steering column shaft. This shaft could break and separate the steering wheel from the steering column, which is universally regarded as not good.
Owners of the affected models can contact a local dealer and reference recall number V29. For reference, the NHTSA's campaign number for the recall is 19V201000. More details will be available at safercar.gov as well.
"The Wrangler's highway steering isn't something others would ever want to benchmark. The big 33-inch off-road tires, solid axle and recirculating ball steering add up to a vintage feel that isn't optimal. That said, driving the Jeep essentially from Mexico to Canada and back did not once feel like a chore. It helps that it does tend to go straight if left to its own devices. The best approach is a light touch and looking far down the road, resisting the temptation to steer it too much." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"It's a long road from Orange County, California, to Seattle, Washington. And I made it longer still by diverting to Bend, Oregon, and then venturing up near the Canadian border. I even put the Jeep on a Washington ferry and went to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
"Our entire weeklong trip amounted to 3,157.6 miles. Over that time we averaged 20.1 mpg. The Jeep's best tank was 21.4 mpg, but it wasn't a new high-water mark. The best range of 378.3 miles was a personal best for the Jeep, though. It all feels pretty impressive when you consider the mountainous terrain, heavy rain and falling snow. This excursion was far from a Sunday drive." — Dan Edmunds
"The time had come to remove the soft top and install the hardtop. The soft top had begun to get loose along the sides to the point where it whistled and leaked air in strong crosswinds. The hardtop solves all of this, of course, and is also much quieter when winds are calm.
"We're experiencing a heavy cycle of rain and snow, and those two weather phenomena dominated the trip north on the way to Oregon. But it's not just that. I don't particularly enjoy the scorching desert sun in the summer. I'm into shade and air conditioning. If I were buying one of these, I'd forgo the dual-top option, get the hardtop and leave it on all year." — Dan Edmunds
"The trip to Seattle and back is well over 2,000 miles long, and the Wrangler isn't known for having a cushy ride. On top of that, my wife is prone to car sickness, especially if she reads or plays with her phone while passenger-ing. But we both realized that she is pretty much immune to queasiness in the Jeep Wrangler. We've driven it to Denver and back, and now we were trekking all the way north to Seattle. Between this and her favorable impression of the seats — another rarity — she actually doesn't mind riding for long distances in this machine.
"I'm no puke scientist, but I have some theories. First, the Jeep's ever-present body motions are not ponderous or floaty. Second, the front tires are way up by the front bumper. This lack of overhang means occupants are sitting really close to the center of pitch, which means we're not moving much. Along those same lines, the cabin is narrow, so relative to the outboard-mounted tires we're sitting much closer to the middle than we might otherwise in another vehicle." — Dan Edmunds
"Apple CarPlay is so painless, and the 8.4-inch screen is positioned close to hand. Uconnect's menus make sense, too. And all four USB ports can feed data into the system — much better than other cars that only have one data USB with all others strictly there for power only." — Dan Edmunds