2018 Jeep Wrangler: Monthly Update for October 2018
by Calvin Kim, Road Test Engineer
Where Did We Drive It?
Our Rubicon spent October doing what Jeeps do best: Go off-road! That doesn't mean it didn't do any on-road driving, though. One of our editors took our 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited down south, beyond the Southern California bubble, while another took it east and off the beaten path. Both experienced the flexibility of the new soft-top mechanism and its various permutations. While our Wrangler was originally outfitted with a hardtop, we opted to switch over to the soft top for the warmer months. Should we switch back? Which do you prefer?
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Off-roading isn't very fuel-efficient. You spend a lot of time at lower engine speeds and higher power outputs. Still, we averaged a respectable 17.5 mpg over seven fill-ups in October. We attribute that to the longer highway trips our Wrangler accomplished en route to and from the trails.
Average lifetime mpg: 17.6
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.7
Best range: 357.3 miles
Current odometer: 13,854 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"The back road from Pioneertown to Big Bear, then down to Angeles Oaks makes a great day trip. There are a few obstacles that require low range along the way, but this trail is more scenic than anything else. There are side trails to keep things interesting, but the Rubicon wasn't taxed by any of them." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"The trail to Pioneertown isn't difficult, but it can be rocky in a way that gets the cabin swaying back and forth. So I ran with the front stabilizer bar disconnected all day, even though I didn't strictly need it to increase articulation. Disconnecting the bar keeps the cabin from getting jostled as much, and in the Rubicon it's a quick button-press that takes a second or two." — Dan Edmunds
"I'm not a convertible guy, but it is worth remembering that the Wrangler is one if you have the soft top on as we do. Today the weather was perfect for top-down off-roading, but the trail had dusty sections, so I didn't want to take the rear windows down and drop it all the way.
"Enter what Jeep calls the Sunrider feature, in which the front half of the top can be folded back while leaving the structural framework in the up position. Last year's JK had this, but this new JL's top folds back far enough to expose rear-seat passengers to the fresh air. If you don't look back, you could imagine the top was all the way down. But when the dusty sections come, it only takes a few seconds to flip it forward and seal it back up again. I jumped between top down and top up about five times during the day as the dust level ebbed and trail conditions changed throughout the trip." — Dan Edmunds
"The Wrangler has dual personalities on the inside. With the top down, it's one of the biggest interiors in the world. Duh, it's a convertible; you have the whole sky. And you can even take the doors off for added airiness (I totally would in the summer if this were my vehicle). With the top closed and the windows up, though, the interior feels pretty claustrophobic. I hit my head more than once a week getting in and out. So did passengers. And the forward visibility is really restricted with the short windshield. I wish I could live with the top down for 365 days a year." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"The Bluetooth and USB connections on the Jeep's Uconnect system both quit on me multiple times this weekend, using different devices. The USB outage was a few hours long (no charging, no smartphone connection), but the Bluetooth disconnection only lasted a few seconds. Hoping this isn't a lasting problem." — Travis Langness
"Loading luggage into the trunk in this thing is difficult, especially with the top on. You only get the one side-opening door and then there's the ultra-low rear window panel. You definitely sacrifice easy cargo loading with the Wrangler." — Travis Langness