CARS.COM — It used to be that the idea of buying a Wrangler was always tempered by “yeah, buts.” “Yeah, it looks like a lot of fun, but I have a family.” So Jeep added a four-door model in 2007. “Yeah, I can take more people now, but the powertrain is terrible.” So Jeep gave it a new engine for 2012. “Yeah, it’s smoother and more powerful now, but it’s awful on-road.”
No more “yeah, buts” for the Wrangler with this all-new 2018 redesign, which is scheduled to hit dealerships in January. The new Wrangler “JL” has been thoroughly reworked from the ground up, and the guys in charge of doing it are themselves Jeep fans who interact frequently with die-hard, loyal Wrangler owners and enthusiasts. They had a list of more than 30 items that needed redoing, according to Wrangler’s chief engineer. The team set about refining and redesigning the icon without reimagining it. The Wrangler’s mission remains as it was: to be the most capable, go-anywhere off-road vehicle that is still affordable and everyday-usable. With the last of the “yeah, buts” removed, the Wrangler now comes with a hefty dose of refinement inside and out, making it a more civilized, more approachable vehicle than ever before.
Very Wrangler to Look At
You’d be forgiven for thinking not much has changed, stylistically. But you’d be wrong — park the new JL side by side with the old JK, and you’ll realize that it’s considerably revised. The front end is smoother and higher, with taller fenders and a more trapezoidal shape to the grille. The windshield is also more raked and flatter than before — meaning it sits more level with the hood if you fold it down, which is easier than ever to do: Removing just four bolts at the top of the windshield, plus yanking off the wiper arms, allows you to tilt the windshield frame forward against the hood and secure it with a provided strap. This gives new meaning to the idea of open-air motoring, but it also is something of a mixed blessing.
I drove the new Wrangler off-road, up some steep rocky inclines, with the windshield down and didn’t care for the lack of glass in front of me. The problem: It adds a good 4 to 5 inches to the hood’s height, making visibility off-road even more difficult. In areas where seeing over the hood is most important, you’ll want to leave the windshield in place.