Wrangler Owner No. 1: I just sold my JK to buy a new JL.
Wrangler Owner No. 2: Nice. I am restoring a CJ right now. Sold my YJ and TJ to buy it.
Few car owners are as fanatical as those who drive Jeep Wranglers. Within this club, it is just as likely that a car be described by its two-letter chassis code as by the trim level or model year it was built. Aftermarket modifications are the norm. And there is that wave of camaraderie they give when passing each other on the road. It's a tight community that knows its stuff.
When the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL was announced, word traveled quickly. It was fully redesigned: The five-speed automatic transmission was now an eight-speed; its soft top was improved; it used lighter-weight construction; it had optional LED headlights; interior materials were nicer; there were many Rubicon-specific enhancements; and more. This was now the Jeep to have.
What Did We Buy?
Back to chassis-code talk. New JLs and last-gen JKs were being sold as 2018s on dealer lots concurrently. So the distinction was important to understand before buying a car to avoid confusion. Some places described them by code, while others simply advertised them as "new 2018 Wranglers."
The 2018 Wrangler JL was available in four trims: Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon. Two doors, four doors and other configurations can be had from there. Read every detail on the Wrangler model review page. But here we'll focus on our car.
From the start, we wanted a Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited. Rubicon was the most capable turnkey 4x4 option in the lineup. Going with the four-door Unlimited put the key in our hand right away rather than having to wait months for the two-doors to go on sale. It was also the volume-selling configuration. We set our sights on the improved premium soft top, which proved difficult to find. Our solution was the dual-top option, giving us the best of both worlds so long as we could find a place to store the unused roof. Additional must-haves were the tow package, the 8.4-inch upgraded Uconnect screen and the Firecracker Red paint job. We ultimately found a car, parked 300 miles from our office on a Las Vegas car lot.
What Options Does It Have?
Some features we touched on above. Here's a bit more detail. The Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited started at $40,495, and the standard amenities were extensive. Of these, the more significant were its revised 3.6-liter V6 (280 horsepower, 260 pound-feet), six-speed manual transmission, a Dana M210 front axle and a Dana M220 rear, 4.10 axle gearing, a 4:1 low range, front and rear electronic locking differentials, electronic anti-roll bar disconnect, rock rails, 17-inch wheels, 33-inch tires, unique fenders to fit the big tires, a full-size spare tire, a 60/40-split fold-flat rear seat and a rearview camera.
Our car had options on top of these. We took the eight-speed automatic ($2,000) over the manual transmission this time. Leather-trimmed interior bits ($1,495), the tow package ($795), LED lights ($895), the 8.4-inch Uconnect display and navigation ($1,495), dual tops ($2,195), the parking assist system and rear cross-traffic alert ($795), a hardtop headliner ($525), all-weather mats ($130) and remote start all cost extra. These brought the MSRP to $52,510. Tack on a dealer-installed profusion of micro VIN markings, called DataDot DNA, for $189. Our out-the-door price at this no-haggle dealership was $52,699.
Why We Bought It
The extensive list of new technology, upgrades and refinement were the obvious reasons to purchase a new Wrangler. They included lightweight aluminum doors for easier removal, refashioned windshield bolts to simplify its removal, pre-wired upfitter switches in the dash, a stronger tailgate to support the heavy spare, a lower spare tire-mounting point to improve visibility, and a rearview camera inside the mounting bracket. But there were other reasons.
The Rubicon. This wasn't our first long-term Wrangler. Our civilian 2007 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited introduced us to the best-selling four-door configuration, which felt like a good fit. More recently we bought a lightly optioned 2012 Wrangler Sport and built our own Rubicon using aftermarket parts. Since this new Rubicon had a long list of new upgrades, this was a great time to buy one out of the box.
The dual tops. Manipulating the soft top on a Wrangler has historically been an art form, requiring hours of practice to master. But Jeep reengineered this top for easier folding. It also allows for a safari configuration, in which the side windows come off but the roof remains. The hardtop is constructed of lightweight materials, suggesting its removal and installation won't be the same two-person back wrencher of old.
And so marks the beginning of our one-year test of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. Follow its progress on our long-term road test for our latest thoughts on this 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations @ 377 miles