2018 Wrangler

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Review: 2018 Jeep Wrangler

Driven August 2018

Review: 2018 Jeep Wrangler

It’s a bit of an art this, drawing up lines for a modern iteration of a classic. The Wrangler has remained rather unchanged in its basic form over the last eighty years, but there is plenty that needs to be fitted in and there are regulations that need to be met. For the 2018 version, the designers at Jeep had their work cut out – not to muck about with the iconic form and to deliver every comfort and convenience that you could possibly want from a car today; plus throw in some added efficiency. Yes, that’s a tall order, but they have gone about it with a fine scalpel, rather than a hammer.

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What’s new then?

Well, pretty much everything. The silhouette may look familiar, but every line is different, the front is the most easy to tell with LED running lamps and headlamps that eat into the seven slot grille. The hood has a bit of a hump in it, although it gets a smaller engine, the wheelbase is longer, the panels that come off have been redesigned and the process of taking them off easier. This Wrangler is more, err, aerodynamic with a slight backward sweep at the top of the grille and a steeper rake on the windscreen. Aluminium and magnesium have been used at the doors and hood to make them lighter and there’s more high strength steel too. That totals to a 90 kilogram weight reduction despite the increase in size.

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Inside the cabin
Well, the dash has been completely redesigned. It sits very vertical to save space. This does not decrease any of the functionality though. You get a bright instrument cluster, a big infotainment screen with all sorts of connectivity options, big burly switches to operate everything else and neatly tucked away slots to plug in your devices to operate with the infotainment or just charge them up. The only bit I wish they had held on to is the big rotary controls on the aircon vents. However, the big improvement in the new car, thanks to the longer wheelbase is the space in the second row. Not only do you have more legroom, but the seat itself is angled better and feels a lot more comfortable, something a lot Indian buyers will notice.

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Small motor you said?
There is a 2-litre, turbo-charged, petrol motor on offer alongside a 3.6-litre, naturally aspirated V6. But, as small as the 2-litre might appear, it makes 268bhp, just 15 less than the V6, and 400Nm of torque. That is impressive for sure and even more so when you drive it equipped with the new eight-speed automatic transmission. That’s another lazy bone ticked off from the Wrangler’s list. A smooth shifting transmission makes a world of a difference and the eight-speed ratio implies it can settle down into a comfortable cruise or drop a couple of gears to get a move on. All of this with no need to count sheep jumping over the fence like you did in the old car. Even in four-wheel-low, the crawl ratios have been adjusted to make the most of the petrol motor and climbing rocks with millimetre precision is no problem at all. For those of you sighing, there is a 3-litre diesel on its way for 2019 and that is the one we should have in India when the car finally comes over early next year.

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Off-road ability
With plates and bars to protect all the essential components, the Wrangler is about as bullet proof a car as you could get out of the showroom for off-road use. The Rubicon version, especially, with its vented hood and larger more off-road focussed tyres makes every bit of terrain seem like a cakewalk. On a trail where every car that we came across was heavily modded, the standard Rubicon measured its way up without the slightest hesitation, sliding over rocks included. Shift into four-low, lock the differentials if needed and disconnect the sway bar - all without the need to step out of the car - and you are set to climb every mountain and cross every stream. Well, till its below your bonnet anyway.

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And how is it on the road?
Let’s face it, the old Wrangler was excellent off-road too, I mean that’s sort of what Jeeps do, right? But, it wasn’t the best thing to drive on the road. Jeep has held on to the solid axles to stay true to its off-road heritage, but the chassis is stiffer and everything has been set up better for on-road use. There is barely any need to correct the steering while you cruise now and the Wrangler can go around a corner without the entire body rolling over. The steering is a bit soggy when you are cruising on the road, but it feels superbly easy to use when you are off-road. They will always need to strike a balance with abilities and this one does it better than any other off-road SUV that comes to mind.

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In the end
If you ever drove the old Wrangler and made a list of the things that you may want changed or improved upon, well, you can roll it up into a ball and throw it in a trash can now. Every detail and aspect of the new Wrangler has been made better, without ruining its classic charm. That is a fine balance, one that we have seen a couple of other manufacturers falter at. With the new Wrangler though, it’s better to drive, the interiors are up to date, there is more space everywhere and it is more efficient. All of this while making it even better off-road, I really did not think that was possible, and hanging on to an iconic design with efficiencies bakes in. Oh, and if you ever feel like, you can strip it of all its panels on the top half for a proper open top experience. We need to wait a few more months, before the Wrangler hits showrooms in India, but then so will the diesel motor, which may make it absolutely worth it.

Price: existing + 5 lakh (estimated)
Spec: 1995cc, 4 cyl, turbo-petrol, 268bhp, 400Nm, 8A
Fuel tank: 80 litres
Ground clearance: 254mm
Kerb Weight: 2034kg




Debabrata Sarkar

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