2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited

New and improved



  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 24 Jul 2018

By James Park


Sometimes, one is hoisted onto a situation that can’t be helped. You can bitch about it but after hard consideration, it might be better to just make the best of it.

   We all admire the Jeep Wrangler for being a uniquely capable off-road vehicle. Unlike most car-based pretenders, it is underpinned by a proper ladder-frame, has enough ride height as well as steep approach and departure angles to be taken seriously by the aficionados, and it even has the ability to disconnect the front stabilizer bar for greater wheel articulation for going over boulders and such.

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But let’s face it. The vast majority of Wrangler owners are city slickers who only think about taking their uber-utility vehicle to a camping ground once a couple of years or so. Like the condo-dwelling Huskies who dream about pulling sleds on the Iditarod, most Wranglers can only imagine what it would be like to traverse the infamous Rubicon Trail while suffering the indignity of being treated like any other commuter car.

   Still, what can you do? Like it or not, the Wrangler is stuck in the situation where the consumers inexplicably demand utilities and form takes precedence over function. Sad but at the end of the day, the Wrangler, too, has to evolve.

   Consequently, the all new 2018 Jeep Wrangler, while keeping its prodigious off-road capabilities, is now a better on-road vehicle. It is also sleeker, quieter, more luxurious and easier to live with than the model it replaces.

   At first glance, the new Wrangler does not look too different from the previous generation. Look closer and you’ll notice that LED daytime running lights now reside in the front of wheel arches. The iconic seven grill slats are slightly bent and the top of outer slats follow the circular lines of the round headlights. The fog lights also move from middle of the front bumper to the newly created outer pods.

   The hood gets functional vents and tail-lights seem to be bigger as well. The front windshield is slightly more angled for better aerodynamics. One might laugh at this, but on highway, the new Wrangler is definitely quieter. Sure, the wind noise is still prevalent, but not as much as before.

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Thanks to the longer wheelbase, rear passenger room is more accommodating. The cabin of the four-door ‘Unlimited’ Sahara test-vehicle provided to this writer, with leather seating, updated infotainment system and so forth, is not only functional and inviting, but quite luxurious as well.

   The base Sport model starts from $34,445 and the top-of-the-line Rubicon from $49,245. The mid-level Sahara with four-doors is the best-selling Wrangler model in Canada, which makes up about half of the total sales.

   How does the new Wrangler drive? With more abundant use of high-strength steel, the engineers saved about 45 kg from the chassis. Aluminum doors also save another 45 kg. Consequently, the new Wrangler accelerates faster and probably gets better fuel mileage.

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   As noted above, the on-road manner has certainly improved but that’s relative to the previous model. The Wrangler is definitely not a sports-sedan. It’s steering gets erratic at times, body-roll is quite noticeable and the thing handles like an ox-cart compared to even everyday family sedan.

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But perched high up, the line of sight is excellent and knowing that you are driving a machine that can go anywhere is a booster shot to your ego. The Wrangler gives you a different kind of fun-to-drivability. It is easy to understand why the Wrangler owners are so loyal and acknowledge other owners with friendly waves.

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   The Wrangler has steadily evolved and improved for the last seventy-seven years and the new model is definitely the best one so far. The consumers will appreciate its better on-road manners and fuel-efficiency.

   However, it is crying shame that most Wranglers would never get to exercise their full potential in their lifetime. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)

 

2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited

Price: $45,745

As tested: $59,310

Engine: 3.6 litre V6

Power: 285 hp/260 lb-ft

Transmission: 8 spd auto

Drive: 4WD

Fuel: 12.9 litres per 100km (city), 10.2 litres (highway)

Best: better on-road manners

Worst: pricey, fuel-economy

Competition: Toyota 4-Runner

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