2018 Jeep Wrangler: Monthly Update for May 2019
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
May was not a standout month for our 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. While we did take it on one local camping trip, the Wrangler didn't go on any extended road trips. Nothing truly epic happened, unless you count a trip to the movies to see Avengers: Endgame as epic. Grocery stores can be pretty awe-inspiring if you're hangry, too.
In all, we added just 1,251 miles to the Wrangler's odometer. But we added other things too, most notably a winch-capable bumper from Mopar. It's the same as the front half of the factory Steel Bumper Group option, but we couldn't find a Jeep equipped with this option when we rushed out to buy our JL in late 2017.
We always figured we could buy and add on the front one later, and now we have. Look for a full writeup on this after we top it off with a light bar in the coming weeks.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Our month of driving didn't include any far-flung road trips, and the trails we tackled were relatively mild and near home. But our local miles were balanced between city and freeway mileage, and we averaged 18.2 mpg for the month — slightly higher than the Wrangler's 17.5-mpg lifetime average at the start of the month.
The total miles were too small to move the lifetime average much, but it did tick up to 17.56 mpg at month's end, which does round up to 17.6 mpg.
Interesting note: The onboard average mpg meter is fairly accurate. I've had a sneaking suspicion that such gauges read too high by 1 or 2 mpg, so I analyzed all of our data from all of our long-term test vehicles. I went back five years, the point when we began recording (and resetting) the onboard mpg meter along with the usual trip odometer and gas pump gallon data points we gather each time we fill up.
The verdict: Many vehicle gauges do indeed read 1 to 2 mpg higher than reality on an average lifetime basis. Only one or two are what I'd call dead-on. The Wrangler isn't one of those, but it comes very close. Its average onboard meter reading works out to 17.8 mpg.
What this means is that if you reset your Wrangler's mpg meter every time you fill up, the number you get when you fill up again will be, on average, just 0.2 mpg higher than reality.
Average lifetime mpg: 17.6
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 24.6
Best range: 379.3 miles
Current odometer: 29,282 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
None. But it needs wiper blades soon.
Though neither maintenance or upkeep, we did install a Mopar winch-capable front bumper. It has removable ends, and we're currently running it in the so-called shorty configuration. Look for a more detailed report on how easy/difficult this work was in a future update.
"I find that I actually use the Wrangler's manual mode more than others for a variety of reasons. For one, the shifter is easy to reach, and it has the look and feel of a manual knob. It's not some weird T-handled thing. On top of that, it's set up correctly: Nudge it forward to downshift, pull back to upshift. Sorry — plus forward/minus back is wrong for sequential shifting.
"Pressing forward to downshift is like pressing down on a motorcycle shifter. It's like nosing down in an aircraft. In a car when you're decelerating, physics is throwing you forward anyway. Why not make the downshift action match the circumstances? Similarly, pulling back to upshift is like pulling up a motorcyle's shifter, like pulling up an airplane's nose. And acceleration throws you back, so pulling back to keep accelerating more doesn't run against the grain." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"This camping trip was our first with our rescue dog, President Camacho, and it was also his first time off-roading in the Jeep. Not only were we concerned with how he'd react to being in the jostling Jeep as it picked its way over rocky terrain, but whether the back seat would be comfortable enough for hours-long travel over said rocky terrain.
"Turns out nothing really fazes the Prez, as he just sacked out back there during much of the journey. The seemingly narrow back seat, which we protected with a dog seat cover, was able to accommodate the large dog who stretched out across it. And there are a couple of air vents in the back of the center console to keep him cool.
"The only issue was that the height of the Jeep and the entrance to the back seat — made smaller by the dog seat cover and camping gear stored in the footwell — made entry difficult for Camacho, who really isn't a jumper. We had to lift this 100-pound dog in every time." — Caroline Pardilla, senior copy editor
"I know many escape to the great outdoors to get away from it all and unplug, but when driving from one closed trail to the next, it's handy to have internet access ('Why is the campground/trail closed and which nearby ones are open right now?'). The good news is that the Wrangler has its own Wi-Fi hotspot. The bad news is that, naturally, it won't work when you are far from any cell towers. At least the Wrangler's navigation maps allowed us to see which roads were dead ends. Although, since we were doing a lot of off-roading in the Jeep, that didn't really matter." — Caroline Pardilla