CARS.COM — When it comes to improving an iconic vehicle, the mantra is, "Don't mess up a good thing." The redesigned 2018 Jeep Wrangler is still a good thing. In fact, it's even better.
The redesigned Wrangler appeals to new and diehard Jeep fans with its continued off-road capability, improved fuel economy and more safety features. Cars.com editors Aaron Bragman, Fred Meier, Joe Wiesenfelder and Brian Wong share why they picked this rugged SUV as Best in Show at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.
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AB: Jeep nailed the redesign for 2018 with a vehicle that retains all the capability and uniqueness of the iconic 4x4 and addresses many owner issues, with an aim toward improved user-friendliness. Add in better fuel economy, more powertrain choices, a lot more safety equipment and some really neat new features, and the Jeep Wrangler is an easy choice for Best in Show.
FM: The 2018 Wrangler has all the capability — and versatility — you'd expect in its various versions. With a long list of big and little design improvements that make those things easier to enjoy, such as a windshield that still folds down but now takes just four bolts to do it, a zipperless soft-top, a simplified system to put down the soft-top and remove the hardtop, and more. Meanwhile, the new additions address real needs to modernize the icon: a more efficient 2.0-liter turbo, better interior materials, an up-to-date Uconnect multimedia media system and even new headlight options to fix a longtime weak link.
JW: The Best in Show has to be a show-floor attraction, which the Wrangler appeared to be even during media days, but it helps if the vehicle also represents an accomplishment, be it in terms of the market, technology or performance.
As my colleagues have already described, Jeep didn't screw around with what makes the Wrangler what it is, and that's not a small deal. While the casual observer wonders when Jeep will make the Wrangler modern, efficient, refined and quiet, Jeep understands that Wrangler fans appreciate the SUV for its rough edges and seemingly outdated interfaces not in spite of them. Contrary to common sense, unique vehicles are often viewed as a liability, and we've seen many of them abandoned in favor of yet another cookie-cutter version of what competing manufacturers already make. The impulse to fix unbroken vehicles is more powerful than consumers recognize. What makes the Wrangler exceptional is that it's both unique and successful, and credit is due to developers who know its appeal so well and continue to fight the good fight against conventional wisdom. Jeep doesn't need an award because the product's likely success is what matters most, but the 2018 Wrangler is starting its new generation with this one: Best in Show.
BW: It's a tricky thing to keep the essence of a vehicle in place while still changing it enough to improve it drastically. Somehow, the Wrangler doesn't seem to lose any of its crazy Wrangler-ness as it adds innovations that will make daily life with one much easier. This is what earned the Wrangler an enthusiastic Best in Show vote from me. Crawling over every inch of the vehicle, you'll find something that has been tweaked to be better — and if it couldn't be tweaked, it was replaced. I loved the Wrangler in the last form; it's great fun even though it was terrible at the things you'd expect from a car. With the JL version, Jeep has walked a fine line with precision: The Wrangler is now more livable and more refined, but it keeps its rugged core fully intact.
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