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2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION: 3.6-liter V6/8-speed automatic

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 285 hp @ 6,400 rpm/260 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm

WHEELBASE: 118.4 in.

LENGTH NX WIDTH X HEIGHT: 188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in.

TIRES: LT285/70R17

CARGO CAPACITY: 31.7/72.4 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)

ECONOMY: 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway/16.2 mpg test

FUEL TANK: 21.5 gal.

CURB WEIGHT: 4,455 lbs. #/HP: 15.6


COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Edge, Land Rover Discovery, Nissan Murano

STICKER: $52,175 (includes $1,195 delivery, $10,485 options)

BOTTOM LINE: The Jeep Wrangler, both “limited” and Unlimited is probably the most unique vehicle on the planet. It has go-anywhere capability, but it is hampered by significant wind and engine noise.

A Jeep is a Jeep. It is probably the most unique vehicle around. Okay, the Hummer was unique, too, but they aren’t available any more for civilian use. While other vehicles in the Jeep family try to capture Jeep Wrangler styling cues, you can only do so much. The seven-slot grille traces back to WWII. The square styling has been softened a bit in the JL edition, like with the less vertical windshield, but it’s still one-of-a-kind. Even the plastic fender overriders are legendary. But, there are still round headlamps - not really! There are projection beam headlamps “inside” the round exterior shells.

I realize it’s a “Jeep Thing,” but the designers almost go too far.

Under the square hood is a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 285 horsepower, connected to an 8-sped automatic transmission. Of course, you can shift into low-low for serious off-road travel. I felt the engine was noisy, but a good portion of the noise could have been wind noise. Because of the Wrangler’s aspect ratio, there is considerable wind noise that intrudes into the cabin. On the plus side, though, there’s enough power to do almost anything.

Inside, you almost get the feel that you’re ready for combat, or serious off-roading. There’s even a “chicken bar” handle for the front passenger to hang on. The simple dash is all business. There’s a basic tachometer and speedometer with clear water and fuel gauges. There’s a larger infotainment screen in the center of the dash with Chrysler Corporation’s Uconnect system (a $1,295 option) for navigating it.

The center stack has all the HVAC controls, as well as the power window switches, a 12-volt outlet and media connections. Below this are the 4-wheel drive and sway bar controls.

Entry and egress is aided by assist handles on the A and B-pillars. For senior citizens, the tall entry (the Wrangler has 9.7 inches ground clearance to get over all those rocks on the Rubicon Trail) can be a challenge and the assist handles are necessary.

Our four-door Unlimited tester had a soft top all around. If you can figure out how to work all the snaps, etc., you can convert the Jeep into an all-over convertible. For example, we had issues with the rear because we had to carry a tall can to the local compost center. Then we had a problem getting it back together without significant gaps that would have allowed rain water inside. We still had an interior rain shower when we opened the front door after rain and water poured into the cockpit. Fortunately, our Wrangler had all-weather floor mats (a $130 option) to catch the water.

Front seats are firm and not that comfortable for long rides, but they do work for sore backs. There’s good rear seat legroom and an essentially flat floor. There’s also excellent rear headroom and visibility. There are audio speakers in the “roll bar” that protects all the passengers in case of a roll-over (we didn’t check this feature).

As a small sport utility, the Wrangler Unlimited has very good cargo capacity. However, I had to lower the rear seat backs in order to get my golf clubs into the rear. The rear head restraints fold when you lower the seat backs.

I know it’s a Jeep Thing, and a true aficionado would appreciate the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited a bit more than I did, but I did like the vehicle’s ruggedness and almost willingness to get off-road and do its thing.

(c) 2018 The Auto Page Syndicate

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