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2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

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2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Expert Review

By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor

KBB Expert Rating: 7.5

Jeep’s Wrangler for 2018 bucks the trend toward car-based-crossover SUVs, remaining loyal to the original concept developed over 75 years ago. The rugged body-on-frame design coupled with an off-road-capable suspension is exactly what the Jeep faithful expect of the Wrangler, even with the added measure of on-road civility the latest version brings to the table. Available as a 2-door or family-friendly 4-door (Wrangler Unlimited) with a choice of hard or soft-top, Jeep builds a Wrangler for just about every need. And, with four trims and numerous special editions, there’s a Wrangler for just about every income level, too. All Wranglers use the same V6 engine but offer various 4-wheel-drive systems and components. There’s also a teeming aftermarket parts industry for the do-it-yourself off-roader.

You'll Like This Car If...

There’s a little adventure in every trip made in the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. Whether that means a top-down jaunt to the gym, or top-off weekend getting dirty far from the beaten path, the Wrangler is designed for rugged individualists and those aspiring to be so.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Rugged doesn’t always equate to comfortable. The Wrangler can feel brutish over prolonged poor road conditions, and its handling abilities are far from sporty. If you’re seeking a 4x4 with 21st-century safety, comfort and infotainment systems, a Jeep Compass, Cherokee or Grand Cherokee might make a better choice.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 7.5
  • 6.8
  • 6.6
  • 8.2
  • 8.4
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#17

out of 18

Fuel Economy

#1

out of 18

Horsepower
View all rankings
2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018
Driving the Wrangler Unlimited
2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

Jeep’s Wrangler for 2018 offers the same attributes that have defined the model for decades: a rugged body-on-frame design, front and rear solid axles, generous ground clearance, solid construction and...

... a tenacious 4-wheel-drive ability. Of course, what makes the Wrangler unstoppable over boulder-strewn trails makes it rather crude when it comes to on-road performance. The choppy ride can grow tiring after time and the noise inside the cabin, especially at highway speeds, may remind you why the Grand Cherokee holds such strong appeal for many former Wrangler owners. The Jeep’s steering and braking are actually quite good, but its block-like design robs the Wrangler of any possibility of attaining best-in-class fuel-economy figures. That said, the 3.6-liter V6 delivers excellent power for merging and passing, while off-road it delivers all the torque necessary to power through the deepest mud and most vicious inclines.

3.6-LITER PENTASTAR V6
Jeep’s Pentastar V6 is a fantastic engine and one of the highlights of the Wrangler’s standard-equipment list. Durable, reliable, powerful and smooth, the Wrangler’s V6 engine delivers in every category that matters. It even returns adequate fuel economy, at least compared to previous Wrangler 6-cylinders.

COMMANDING OFF-ROAD CAPABILITY
The sole reason to buy a Wrangler is its ability to venture confidently off-road. At the head of the Wrangler pack is the Rubicon featuring heavy-duty Dana 44 axles with mechanical lockers, a 4:1 low-gear ratio, front and rear locking differentials, larger off-road tires and an electronically disconnecting front sway bar for added axle articulation.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Details
2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Even with the available leather, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler’s interior does not qualify as plush. The main requirement is durability, which describes the Sport model’s cloth seats and the hard plastic surfaces. But there’s plenty of versatility: The rear seat will fold flat for carrying gear and which in the 4-door Unlimited models will accommodate three people. The instrument panel is not necessarily stylish but does have the control functions within easy reach. And, as it has been for years, if the interior gets really dirty you can pull the handy drain plugs and clean it out with a garden hose.

Exterior
2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited photo

After 75 years, the Jeep Wrangler's function-over-form design remains among the most enduring, and endearing, on the planet. It’s unmistakable and recognized around the world. From time to time there are minor changes, but Jeep wouldn’t dare alter its iconic 7-slot grille, classic round headlights and trapezoid fenders any more than you’d change the shape of a Coke bottle or the Porsche 911. The upright windshield allows great outward visibility and folds down for those times off-road when you need to lean over the hood. Tires pushed out to the corners give the Wrangler unmatched approach and departure angles.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Three major items are standard on every 2018 Jeep Wrangler: a 285-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine, a 6-speed manual transmission and 4-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case. Every Wrangler also gets skidplates to protect the fuel tank and transfer case, stability control with roll mitigation, hill-start assist, trailer-sway control, a USB port and an 8-speaker audio system. The doors are removable, and there’s a tool kit for doing just that, and a folding soft-top is standard, even on the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited. Not standard on the base Sport model are power windows, door locks and even air conditioning.

Optional Equipment

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler options list is comprehensive and, primarily, aimed at additional capabilities off-road. However, there is also a Power Convenience Group that adds desirable amenities and makes the Wrangler far more livable on a daily basis, things like power locks, power mirrors, power windows and keyless entry. There’s also a new Cold Weather package available on Sport S and Rubicon models. It includes heated front seats, an engine-block heater and a remote-start system. With the packages and options, which even include a navigation system, buyers can easily order the Wrangler of his or her dreams.

Under the Hood
2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Engine photo

The only engine for the Jeep Wrangler is Jeep’s terrific 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, with 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s one of our favorites. Its smooth power delivery makes easy work of highways or rock crawls, and it's by far the best engine ever in a Wrangler and it runs on regular gasoline. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard and a 5-speed automatic is available as an option. In the 2-door Wrangler, there's no difference in fuel economy between the two. There are so many variations of axles and gear ratios that both the manual and automatic gearboxes work well on or off highways, and we’re enamored enough of 3-pedal driving that we’d probably choose the manual.

3.6-liter V6
285 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/21 mpg (Wrangler), 17/20 mpg (Wrangler Unlimited, automatic), 17/21 mpg (Wrangler Unlimited, manual)

For all its capabilities, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler is surprisingly affordable. The basic Wrangler Sport has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $25,000, including destination. That makes it one of the least expensive convertibles on the market. The 4-door Wrangler Unlimited Sport is about $3,000 more. Various packages and options can run the price up, and a fully loaded Sahara or Rubicon can easily exceed $40,000. Wranglers enjoy historically high resale values, with 3-year residuals around the 60-percent level. If you’re considering aggressive off-roading, choosing a loaded Rubicon with appropriate options and packages can be a bargain compared to the cost of upgrading a more basic Wrangler Sport through the 4WD aftermarket -- and it will have a factory warranty. To make your best deal, be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area typically pay for a 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

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