LA Auto Show First Public Showing of Redesigned SUV
At this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show automakers introduced a mixture of environmentally friendly, advanced technology vehicles along with traditional high-performance models appealing to a different market segment. At Clean Fleet Report we think there’s some high performance worth noting in the first group. This is one of several stories that will highlight the most significant news out of the show.
The all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL made its debut Wednesday at the Los Angeles auto show as one of the show’s most-anticipated reveals. And yes, the new off-roader, in either two- or four-door versions, looks pretty much like the outgoing Wrangler JK. If it didn’t, there would be a massive revolt of Wranglerphiles. The vehicle is designed to have better aerodynamics, improved performance, increased fuel economy, and features some nice tech updates along with new powertrains.
Carryover and New Powertrains
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will first be available with the carryover Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine that ponies up 285 horsepower (hp) and 260 pounds-feet (lb.ft.) of torque with the option of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. All of Wrangler’s engines will now come standard with stop-start technology.
Taking baby steps towards electrification, Jeep will also offer the 2018 Wrangler with a mild hybrid powertrain with its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine. Called eTorque, the hybrid adds regenerative braking, stop-start and electric power assist. This system makes 270 hp and 295 lb.ft. of torque.
For the first time ever (in the U.S.), Jeep will also offer a diesel engine. The diesel version will have a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 EcoDiesel engine that exerts 260 hp and 443 lb.ft. and has an eight-speed automatic transmission. Given its extra torque, this will likely be the most appealing option for those serious about off-roading and towing. Those who opt for the diesel model, though, will also have to wait until 2019 and it will only be available in four-door models.
At the end of Jeep’s second-best selling model reveal, brand head Mike Manley announced that the Wrangler will get a plug-in hybrid model in 2020 in a move he says is “future proofing” the legendary off-roader. “A full plug-in electric Jeep Wrangler will be available in 2020, furthering our commitment to all those who value the responsible, sustainable enjoyment of the great outdoors and very importantly, future proofing this Wrangler for generations to come,” he said.
New Exterior Styling, Sort Of
The redesigned 2018 Jeep Wrangler may look strikingly similar to its immediate predecessor, but above the skid plates and beneath the removable top, longtime fans will notice the upgrades incorporated into the first Wrangler redesign since 2006.
The grille combines the best of past eras of design, while being able to stand on its own. It has returned to the classic keystone shape with new, larger headlights intruding on the outboard slats, reminiscent of the first post-war flat-fender Jeeps. Keen eyes might also notice the return of the kink in the grille, which was last seen on YJs and XJs, a once-stalwart Jeep styling cue that retakes its rightful home at the front of the JL.
Overall length for the two-door is 166.8 inches, a growth spurt of a little over two inches. The four-door grows 3.5 inches compared to the JK, for an overall length of 188.4; a little over an inch of that is used to improve rear-seat legroom. The Wrangler JL’s track width grows one inch to 62.9 inches, while ground clearance is up across the board. Likewise, approach, breakover and departure angles are increased compared to standard JKs.
A Classy Interior
Inside the cabin, the Wrangler’s once-a-decade overhaul really takes off, starting with long-overdue upgrades of its infotainment system and information cluster. A five-inch touchscreen will be available on the low-end Sport models, with either seven- or optional 8.4-inch touchscreen displays available on upper trims, including optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The instrument cluster will feature either a 3.5-inch or seven-inch information screen, depending on the trim level. The new Wrangler will get push-button start for the first time, while its seats will have adjustable bolster and lumbar supports, and available heated front seats and steering wheel.
Window controls are still in the center stack, as are a set of four auxiliary switches ready for lights, compressor or other electric needs. The dashboard grab handle even has a flat spot to mount a radio mic or other device. A new powered Sky one-touch system allows a driver to retract the Wrangler’s canvas soft top with the touch of a button.
Also included are 75 active and passive safety features, including a backup camera and available blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection. Plus, Jeep didn’t ignore rear seat passengers, with an additional inch of legroom, a seat back angled more deeply and, for the first time, a center armrest with cup holders.
So far, fuel economy ratings have been revealed only for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited models with the carryover engine. It earned mpg ratings of 18 city/23 highway/20 combined with the eight-speed automatic, and 17 city/23 highway/19 combined with the six-speed manual transmission. Pricing will be announced closer to its arrival in dealer showrooms in January.