CARS.COM — Ford Mustang owners love their Mustangs, and Chevrolet Corvette guys and gals are passionate about their plastic sports cars, but nobody is as fanatical as a Jeep Wrangler owner. So the pressure to not screw up a cultural icon (and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' cash cow) is immense.
Purists need not worry, for despite the fact that the new 2018 Wrangler "JL" got a very thorough redo, it still encompasses everything the old Wrangler was, just with a much more user-friendly approach.
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Styling isn't all that different, and that's a good thing. The changes for 2018 reflect an idea of making the Wrangler easier to use while keeping the things its current owners love about it. So, optional LED headlights should improve on the abysmal old headlights, and the aluminum doors are significantly lighter and easier to cart around. The soft top goes up and down far more easily, and without fussy zippers. When the side panels are removed from the soft top, the lack of D-pillars allows you to have a kind of bikini top over the passengers for an improved open-air experience.
Visibility is improved thanks to taller glass, and the windshield is now encased in a separate frame that folds down with the removal of just four bolts instead of 28 for 2017. The windshield comes off completely after removing the wipers and two more bolts. The backseat head restraints now fold down for improved visibility and into the seat when you drop it; negating the need to take out the head restraints requires you to choose leaving them at home or rattling around the cargo area, like the old Wrangler. The rear wiper now rests on the tailgate instead of high and center on the rear glass, also for improved visibility.
These ease-of-use updates are a direct result of feedback from customers asking for changes to improve their Wrangler experience. Make no mistake, however: The Wrangler remains a Wrangler with a cramped cabin, awkward rear seating, a high step-in and what is likely to be just as loud of a highway experience (we'll know for sure a week from now, so check back for our First Drive). But the Wrangler also promises to be a lot better, too, and the changes look like Jeep will make Wrangler ownership an easier experience without sacrificing the ability that many Wrangler owners require in their rig.
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