Off-roading is more than just a hobby – it’s a way of life. One does not simply purchase a Jeep Wrangler because it’s a means to essential necessities. No. One buys a Wrangler because it’s the key that opens the door to a world of unlimited possibilities. Question is however, how much are you willing to spend for this key.
On paper, the starting price of $31,445 for Wrangler Sport 4X4 with four-doors is a rational understanding for an all-access pass to the most exclusive club. But what if we were to tell you that the one, we have here, the Rubicon 4X4 is nearly double that price? At $55,400, a Jeep Wrangler is astonishingly expensive. And yet, after sending our test subject through treacherous rock-climbing tactics and practically snowboarding its way through 12-inches of snow – we get what makes a Jeep Wrangler so trendy.
2018 was a big year for the Wrangler, with a complete overhaul, the new JL generation is the most urbane Wrangler ever built. While ascetically, the Wrangler is faced with similar attributes as generation past, we can’t blame Jeep for not touching its heritages design scheme. Bringing it up to pare with modern times, the Wranglers carries a cultured mannerism to its child’s play disposition.
Our Rubicon loved its option packages, starting at $41,445 – the Rubicon is a simple as one would think. It brings in 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped with extra beefy all-terrain BF Goodrich rubber, electronically detachable front and rear sway bars and locking front and rear axles, alongside its proper four-wheel drive system, the Rubicon also features its 4:1 Rock-Trac four-wheel drive for greater rock crawling terrains while keeping maximum torque in a lower gear for better momentum. But say you wanted all the premium amenities that come with a modern car – leather, navigation, LED headlights, a hardtop roof – all are options on the Rubicon.
Our beige leather seats, we’ll admit seemed out of place with a Wranglers general habit – though while hiding the dust from our open rooftop adventure, they add a $1495 upgrade – this also includes leather wrapped parking brake handle, shift knob and door panels. The $795 Trailer tow package allows our four-door Wrangler to tow something up to 3000lbs – something small like a couple of jet skis or camper trailer. The tow package also brings in four programmable auxiliary switches that are tied into the cars breaker box and can allow for all sorts of accessories to be added to your Jeep – like a winch, a few light bars and so on. The LED headlights, taillights and daytime lights are all encompassed in the $995 LED Lighting Group – this adds an upscale look to the Wranglers smoldering good looks while adding better illumination out in the middle of nowhere. The large 8-inch touch screen Uconnect system is one of the best infotainment systems on the market – with easy user functionality, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a high definition resolution display with a crystal-clear backup camera, this system sets the Rubicon back an extra $1495. Then there’s the Jeeps $795 Safety Group Package with parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring and the $1295 Steel Bumper Package that will keep us from damaging any of the body panels while climbing up a mountain pass. The only option our Wrangler was missing was the Cold Weather Package that added heated seats, heated steering wheel and remote start – one would admit during our wintery times when its 20-degrees outside that this one package we would have opted for.
Since we’re on the subject of options, new to Jeep is the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. While the standard 3.6-liter engine is as solid as a 100-year old donkey, the new turbocharged way of life brings in some fresh air to the Wrangler family. This four-cylinder engine however is something unlike the others. FCA uses something similar to the hybrid technology calling eTorque. It’s a Mild Hybrid system that delivers a supplemental 71lb-ft of electric torque at lower revolutions. This system uses regenerative energy from braking and even up shifts and stores it in an on-board battery. This technology increases launch performance, helps with smoother shift points and overall improved fuel economy. This engine is a $1000 upgrade over the standard V-6 and comes only in the 8-speed automatic, which tacks on an additional $2000. The V-6 still offers the third pedal manual gearbox.
A four-cylinder in a Wrangler sounds worrisome given that four-cylinders don’t always carry the greatest track record when it comes to off-roading. The demand for instant torque is nearly a must have in the realm of four-by-fouring. Luckily, however, the turbocharged unit here produces an astonishing 270-horsepower with 295lb-ft of torque. Its off the line acceleration can achieve 60 miles per hour in less than 7 seconds. There is noticeable turbo lag when setting off from a stop and at highway cruising when it comes time from the Wrangler to respond to passing slower motorist – the lag however isn’t departmental – it’s noticeable but not concerning. When it comes to our favorite sporting, the eTorque shines some extra light – when engaged in four-wheel drive – the Rubicon’s Rock Trac system always makes sure that torque is instantly available at any given moment with no signs of hesitations from the turbo.
The biggest improvements made to the Wrangler was its chassis development. Carrying a much more on-the-road sophistication, the Wrangler is much more comfortable to drive during the day-to-day. Even though our chunky all-terrain tires had a different agenda, the overall ride quality was more than acceptable – we could drove hundreds of miles without feeling any discomfort. As given, the electrically boosted steering was numb, but we didn’t expect to treat it like a sports car either. Braking has been improved on as well with a better stopping distance, enhanced brake pedal feel and abrupt stops didn’t send us nose diving.
When it comes to the proper Jeepin’ experience what better way than to remove the roof, the doors and even fold down the windshield. That was the key element that had to stick with the Wrangler no matter what changes were to come. Jeep has made doing such task much simpler. The the standard Wrangler comes with a plastic hard top roof, our body-colored 3-piece roof was a $2095 option and came with the simplistic of instructions to remove – removing the first two panels opens up the skies above the driver and passenger for a sunroof like feel. Then removing the rear is as simple as removing the 8 bolts that hold it together. Although, considering it weights over 100lbs, a buddy to help or a lift to remove the roof is a must. The doors on the other hand, after many YouTube videos and reading the instructions, the concept sounded simple, but the execution was a different story. We had difficulty removing the wiring harness as it required a second plastic clip to be released, we never could find the clip that held it in place and nor could we get the harness to unclamp; therefore, the doors stayed on… probably for the best anyways since rain and snow fell a day later.
At fifty-five grand, the Wranglers hefty price is a hard pill to swallow. Given its capabilities, we understand why one would cost so much. Its improved interior development, quality use of materials and ability to achieve 25 miles to the gallon on the highway makes the Wrangler a better use of resources to sustain an everyday form of transportation without having to sacrifice our love for the greater outdoors.
Model: 2018 JEEP WRANGLER RUBICON UNLIMITED 4X4
Starting Price: $31,445 – Jeep Wrangler Sport ($41,445 – Jeep Wrangler Rubicon)
As Tested: $55,400
Engine: 2.0-liter Turbocharged eTorque Four-Cylinder Engine
Horsepower/Torque: 270-HORSEPOWER / 295LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 22-CITY / 25-HWY / 22-COMBINED
(AS TESTED: 19.5 MPG COMBINED)
Fuel Range: 380 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±7.0 SECONDS