Chicago Auto Show Blog

Top Down, Knee-Deep in Mud

Posted by: Mark Bilek

Just in time for summer, Jeep's got an all-new Wrangler in showrooms. The redesign of the iconic off-road-ready vehicle focuses on making it substantially more livable while still retaining the rough-and-ready character that made it famous. Changes outside are subtle, but inside Wrangler is given a proper interior with plenty of tech.


At the same time new engines and a host of aluminum and magnesium panels help reduce weight and boost fuel economy. Three engines are offered. The 285-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 returns, but for 2018 it gets stop/start and mates to either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic. New are an immediately available turbocharged 2.0-liter four that makes 270 horsepower and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel that will be added in the 2019 model year. Both come only with the 8-speed automatic.

In terms of four-wheel-drive systems, Wrangler has one for every need. Command-Trac returns. It's a part-time system with a low-range. The Rubicon comes with Rock-Trac, which adds locking differentials, front sway-bar disconnect and a 4:1 low ratio. Also offered is Selec-Trac, a full-time system that can be left engaged on all surfaces.

On the tech front, the 2018 Wrangler adds FCA's fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system with an available 8.4-inch touch screen. Both Android Auto and Apple Car Play are supported. Blind-spot monitor, rear cross-path detection, rear-view camera and SOS calling are available.

Two- and four-door body styles return. There's a substantially modified soft top designed to be significantly easier to remove, a three-piece hard top and a canvas sunroof that extends beyond the rear seats and has removable quarter windows. Of course, doors can be detached and the windshield folds forward. The model lineup consists of Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon. Prices start as low as $30,995.

After a day spent off roading at The Cliffs Insane Terrain in Marseilles, Illinois, there's no doubt the Wrangler Rubicon is ready to play. With a stump pulling 4:1 low range, 33-inch all-terrain tires, locking front differentials, Dana 44 rear differential and electronic front sway-bar disconnect, Wrangler Rubicon comes direct from the factory with the chops to tackle even the toughest off-road trail. Rubicon powers through mud bogs, scampers across river beds and claws its way up boulder embankments. There's little doubt that Jeep engineers succeeded in civilizing the Wrangler while, at the same time, enhancing its off-road ability. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself it's only $25 bucks for a full day of fun at The Cliffs Insane.

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