Review: Jeep Wrangler (2018)
Looks like it means business. Easier to live with than before. Excellent off road.
Poor fuel economy. Unsophisticated on road. One star Euro NCAP rating.
Jeep Wrangler (2018): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 107% of the official MPG figure
You need to brace yourself a bit for the Wrangler. This is not the sophisticated, luxury sports-SUV you can get from Audi, BMW and Volvo.
The truth is that this is barely a rival to the Q5s and X3s of the world - it’s an entirely different animal - which is exactly what the average Wrangler buyer is after. A proper, hardcore, adventurous off-roader. Anyone familiar with this legendary 4x4 and its military roots will expect nothing less.
It’s wicked fun too, despite being hilariously cumbersome on road. The gritty, unashamedly utilitarian nature of it is precisely where its appeal lies.
From an interior that you can hose down to a driving style that feels like a caricature of a modern SUV, to off-road ability that only a Mercedes G-Class (which is almost twice the price of the Jeep) can compete with. You want military-grade, mountain-conquering off-road skills and a brilliantly characterful car, the Jeep is what you want.
Engine options are limited to a 200PS 2.2-litre diesel and a 272PS turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, both mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, complete with switchable four-wheel drive and a low-ratio gearbox for getting lost – but probably not stuck - in the wilderness. A plug-in hybrid is expected to go on sale in 2020.
It’s tricky to recommend exactly which variety of Wrangler you should go for before the UK prices and specification are confirmed, but suffice to say that the diesel is going to be uneconomical enough, with a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 31.8mpg (NEDC), so avoid the petrol if you’re concerned about fuel costs.
Looks-wise, the Wrangler has stuck firmly to its roots and is unmistakable as anything but a Wrangler, from the popped-out wheelarches to the owlish headlights, boxy silhouette and removable roof. Even the doors can be taken off and the windscreen folded down, for the full GI Joe look.
If you are considering the Wrangler, be aware that it differs drastically depending on whether you go for the impractical but achingly cool-looking three-door short-wheelbase, to the moderately roomy, long-wheelbase five-door.
And that’s before you’ve picked whether you want one of the more road-oriented versions, or the hardcore off-road Rubicon, which is easy to differentiate by its black plastic wheelarches and even more heroically masculine visual impact.
What does a Jeep Wrangler (2018) cost?
Jeep Wrangler (2018): What's It Like Inside?
- Euro NCAP rating of one star
The first thing to know is that you need the five-foor if you plan on carrying people and stuff regularly. The three-door model’s wheelbase is some 500mm shorter than the five door Wrangler and you pay for it in the interior practicality.
An average-sized adult will feel cramped in the back seats of the three-door (that’s once they’ve managed to squeeze in through the awkward gap behind the front seat), and the short boot is no bigger than that of a city car at 192 litres.
Go for the five-door and two adults will be comfy in the back – you can even squeeze a third in the middle, although to say they’d be comfortable like that would be stretching it.
A boot capacity of 533 litres also makes the bigger version way more appropriate if you’re going to be lugging about muddy Labradors, saddles or any of that outdoorsy, family stuff that a Wrangler driver is likely to revel in.
The boot opening is also a bit unusual. Only the lower half of the boot lid is side-hinged, complete with the spare tyre fixed to it, so you access the boot by first flipping up the rear window and then swinging open the lower part, stable-door style.
Up front, the interior of the Wrangler has been much improved. All models get a touchscreen system, ranging from a 5.0-inch in the entry-level Sport to a 7.0-inch in the others, or an 8.4-inch touchscreen is optional.
It responds pretty quickly and comes with all the features you’d want including advanced off-road readouts, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although there are slicker and more logical touchscreen systems out there.
The screen forms the focal point for a very upright dash, which is a bit button-heavy but – once you’ve figured out where the window switches are – is easy to use.
Everything feels deliberately durable, with rubberised surfaces, and heavy-duty materials creating something of a military-chic feel that strikes the right balance between looking cool yet feeling appropriate for this kind of car. You get cushy, comfortable leather seats, climate control and all the essential comforts to make daily use more than tolerable.
You’re also constantly reminded of the Wrangler’s long and distinguished heritage by the Willys Jeep silhouette repeated around the car. Plus, there’s a useful cubby for the tools you need to take the doors off and drop the windscreen, and a clearly labelled storage area underneath the boot floor to but the bolts in so you don’t lose them.
You even get a removable rubber cover for your touchscreen so that it doesn’t get damaged if you hose the interior down after a hard day’s mud wallowing.
Child seats that fit a Jeep Wrangler (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Jeep Wrangler (2018) like to drive?
All Wrangler models get a switchable four-wheel drive system that you can put into rear-wheel drive mode for more efficient driving, or that you can switch to automatic four-wheel drive when the road conditions are a bit more treacherous.
For serious off-road stuff, you’ll want to clunk the stubby lever down into low-ratio, permanent 50-50 four-wheel drive. The long-wheelbase model also has a useful towing capacity of 2500kg, while the shorter car can only tow 1500kg.
On top of all this, it’s worth knowing that the Wrangler is available in two distinct formats. Go for Sport or Sahara trims and you’re getting the more comfort-oriented version, which has two open diffs (unless you spec an optional limited slip diff).
Go for the Rubicon and you’re going for the full ends-of-the-earth version, complete with heavy duty axles, locking diffs, detachable anti-roll bar, and even more off-road oriented suspension. A more dedicated off-roader does not exist in the current market, short of the drastically more expensive Mercedes G-Class.
Engine options are currently limited to a 200PS 2.2-litre diesel or a 272PS 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, both of which come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
We've driven the diesel, which is grumbly by modern standards but feels slick enough even when you’re muddling around town thanks to the slow-but-smooth shifting auto.
Even so, as we’ve alluded to - the Wrangler is no charmer on the road. Even the long-wheelbase Sahara wobbles and lurches on its tall springs, and offers up slow steering response that seems to have an only cursory effect on where the car is actually pointing.
The short-wheelbase Rubicon emphasises the loose-feeling, lump and scrabble cornering antics of the Wrangler, although we would add that our car was on off-road tyres, which contribute significantly to the sensation that you’ve got gelatinous suspension.
For all this, the hands-on, analogue feel of the Jeep is something that’s rare in modern cars, and it makes the Wrangler a riot to drive despite its objective shortcomings. Sure, it’s got all the on-road precision of a dropped Cornetto, and is likely to be appreciated mostly by enthusiasts and extroverts, but it is comfortable and easy-going enough for daily use. And you’ll enjoy even the most mundane journeys.
Get the Wrangler off-road and it is utterly in its element. We drove up mountain passes that you wouldn’t be able to stand on without crampons, slogged through sill-deep mud slicks, and the Jeep never felt remotely near its limits. It is hilarious how easy this car makes genuinely perilous terrain – even the Sahara felt unstoppable, never mind the Rubicon. If you’re after gung-ho adventure in a tolerably comfortable daily driver, look no further.
|2.0 272||24–34 mpg||-||198–273 g/km|
|2.2 Multijet 200||37–38 mpg||-||195–209 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Jeep Wrangler (2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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