Mustang, Corvette, Camaro, and Jeep Wrangler: All four cars are American icons. All four have rabid fan bases. And when it’s time for any of them to get an update, the pressure and scrutiny from die-hard owners are incredible. No one thinks twice when Hyundai updates the Sonata. But when word of any change is leaked (which happens often) about these four, you can bet that internet forums will explode.
“Sacrilege! Too much compromise! The bean counters are taking over!” Read too much into any of it, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the world must be ending. Jeep has been working on a new Wrangler for years now, replacing the JK model that’s been with us since 2007. And with each tidbit of new information, purists either cry foul or breathe a huge sigh of relief.
And while Fiat Chrysler has done an admirable job of keeping the new Wrangler under wraps, someone leaked the Jeep’s full owner’s manual on JL Wrangler Forums. Needless to say, we now know a lot more about the Wrangler than Fiat Chrysler wanted us to before its official reveal. Jeep purists can relax because the Wrangler is going to be just fine. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Wrangler, long before Jeep wanted you to.
1. The rumored big changes were just that: Rumors
There’s an old saying among cynical Jeep fans about the brand’s die-hards: To them, the last Jeep is always the last true Jeep. Well, this Wrangler should still live up to its name and then some. Early rumors led pessimists to believe the new Jeep would have an independent suspension or use unibody construction or lightweight aluminum — all things that would affect its off-road capabilities. Luckily, none of these things turned out to be true. If anything, this Wrangler could be the most capable off-roader yet.
2. It takes off-roading very seriously
While Wranglers will come standard with a four position four-wheel drive transfer case (2WD, 4WD High, 4WD Low, Neutral), it will also offer a five position unit, which includes an automatic setting. Utilizing traction control and stability sensors, 4WD Auto will engage the four-wheel drive system on the fly better than most novice off-roaders would be able to.
The new Wrangler also has four pre-wired auxiliary buttons on the dash, making the installation of accessories a breeze. This makes aftermarket options, such as lights or a winch, largely plug-and-play and could make your Jeep customizable for individual adventures.
3. It takes everything off
With increasing safety standards, it’s easy to imagine a time when the Wrangler’s iconic removable doors could be legislated out of existence. Thankfully, now is not that time. On the 2018 model, it looks like the doors are even easier to remove, especially on the four-door Wrangler Unlimited model.
4. A fan favorite makes a big return
Introduced on the original Willys MB back in 1941, the newest Wrangler will return to an easy-to-lower flat windshield. The outgoing JK model carried on the tradition, but it took over an hour of labor removing Torx bolts in order to do it. In the new truck, you need to remove four bolts. That’s it.
5. A high-tech top that makes everything better
The JK Wrangler offers the “Freedom Top,” with fiberglass removable panels over the front seats and a cap that could come off if you had a friend helping you, a half hour to kill, and someplace to store it. The Freedom Top will return, but it’ll be joined by a power convertible top. From the information we have, it looks like it will be a full-length canvas top (think current Fiat 500 convertible) integrated into the rollbar that folds down past the rear window. This Jeep’s side panels are also removable, giving a true open-topped driving experience while being less cumbersome.
6. Exciting engine choices
Today, the Wrangler is available with Fiat Chrysler’s long-serving 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. The Pentastar will return for 2018, but it will be joined by a 2-liter turbocharged inline-four and a diesel engine. Transmission options will be a six-speed manual (there’s evidence that it will only be available with the 3.6) and an eight-speed automatic geared for maximum fuel economy.
7. A revised interior
The Wrangler has never really been a comfortable car compared to just about every other modern vehicle on the market, but that’s going to change. The squeaky plastic dashboard has been redesigned with room for Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system. There’s a large MID screen sandwiched between two analog gauges. And there are niceties, such as a heated steering wheel.
8. Impressive-looking gadgets
Like the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, the latest Wrangler will have a number of sensors that will give you off-roading data in real time. In the UConnect system, the Jeep will have a series of “Off-Road Pages,” which will show info, including tilt and pitch, suspension travel, altitude, and map coordinates. The system is more show than go, but it’s still pretty cool.
9. It will be better on the road, too
As great of an off-roader as the Wrangler is, its on-street driving dynamics — where even off-roading Wranglers spend 90% of their time — always left something to be desired. This looks to be changing quickly. The new Jeep will be available with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, and Parksense rear parking assist.
10. But wait, there’s more
The leaked owner’s manual is specifically for the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. For 2019, the aforementioned diesel engine will arrive, as will the long-awaited Wrangler pickup. So just because we have all this information now, the timing of the Wrangler rollout means the best could still be yet to come.