2018 Jeep Wrangler: Monthly Update for May 2018
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Manager
Where Did We Drive It?
In contrast to April's camping adventure in Joshua Tree, our 2018 Jeep Wrangler spent the majority of May roaming the concrete jungle of the Los Angeles sprawl. We mentioned in the last update that we'd been rear-ended, which caused some damage to the rear bumper and landed the Wrangler in the body shop at the end of the month.
The damage, thankfully, wasn't very extensive, though we did have to wait a couple of weeks for parts. Replacement items consisted of the rear bumper, rear parking sensors and the right rear bumper reflector, a pretty straightforward fix.
Once the Wrangler was back on the road and with summer on the way, we decided it was time to swap the hardtop for the soft top. Depending on your Jeeping priorities, you'll likely prefer one over the other. Some staffers have already voiced their preferences in the comments below.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Although we covered slightly more ground in May — 1,082 miles — compared to April, fewer free-rolling highway miles dipped us below May's average and dragged our lifetime average down 0.3 mpg. We managed just 16.1 mpg in May, our lowest result since picking up the Wrangler in February.
We've only filled up a couple of times since installing the soft top, and it'll be interesting to see if it has any effect on our average over the summer.
Average lifetime mpg: 17
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 20.3
Best range: 329.9 miles
Current odometer: 4,369 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
There are a few recalls out for the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, but only one potentially affects our vehicle — and 4,846,884 other Fiat Chrysler vehicles — based on its date of manufacture.
The NHTSA Campaign Number 18V332000 states that "these vehicles are being recalled to address a defect that could prevent the cruise control system from disengaging. If, when using cruise control, there is a short circuit within the vehicle's wiring, the driver may not be able to shut off the cruise control either by depressing the brake pedal or manually turning the system off once it has been engaged, resulting in either the vehicle maintaining its current speed or possibly accelerating."
Chrysler has advised owners to stop using cruise control until a software update has been performed, which is expected to be available beginning July 6. It continues: "In the event that cruise control cannot be disengaged while driving, owners should firmly and steadily apply the brakes and shift the transmission to neutral, placing the vehicle in Park once it has stopped."
This is sound advice and should be heeded. We know because we put it to the test. While we agree that this is a potentially disconcerting situation for drivers to deal with, incidents resulting from such issues are largely avoidable.
"One of the unfortunate effects of the airbags-everywhere design philosophy of current cars is thick door pillars that inhibit rear visibility. The Wrangler doesn't have this problem since its sectional hardtop is meant to be removed. That means the pillars are whisper-thin and the side glass is tall and wide. Visibility in the rear three-quarters view and immediately behind the Wrangler is excellent (with the exception of the tire, which is in your sight line)." — Cameron Rogers, staff writer
"I expected the added noise and the lack of thermal insulation from the switch to the soft top. What I wasn't expecting was the lack of insulation from smells. Even with the A/C set to recirculate, I could smell every diesel, every car that's been dodging the smog test, all the roofing tar and garbage trucks, and even the Jeep's own rich exhaust at startup. I get that this car is all about being closer to nature or whatever, but I didn't think it would bring me this much closer to tailpipes." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer
"The Jeep takes more work to keep in a straight line on the highway than our long-term Colorado ZR2 (it's also noisier inside), but it rides better. And for me at least, the seat and seating position are more comfortable. Also, I'm on record as disliking the ZR2's diesel. If I had to choose an off-roader to live with every day, I'd take the Jeep over the Chevy." — Will Kaufman
"I was really excited to put down the Jeep's recently installed soft top — until I looked up how to do it. It's a pretty serious procedure. I know I'm not this car's target audience, but having to go through this many steps would discourage me from even trying it unless I knew I was going to spend a whole day driving around with it off. This isn't a roof you put down for a short drive." — Will Kaufman