Jeeps are known for their incredible off-road prowess and the Rubicon Wrangler is the most capable of the bunch. That’s saying something. It’s also got a big personality and that cool factor. People notice this rig. And since it’s a Jeep, you can take off the roof and doors and enjoy open-air fun.
The Jeep Wrangler got a makeover for the 2018 model year. Some driver assistance technologies were added in 2019 including adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning. For 2020, there are two new special editions.
The Wrangler comes in numerous trims: Sport, Sport S, Black & Tan, Willys, Sport Altitude, Sahara, Rubicon, and Sahara Altitude. Starting prices range from $28,295 to $42,195. Prices can escalate with options and packages. My tester tops out at more than $60 grand!
The Jeep Wrangler still has the old-school body-on-frame construction. It’s available in two- and four-door models and with a hardtop or soft-top convertible.
The Rubicon comes loaded with all the features you need for rugged off-roading including a more advanced four-wheel-drive system, 17-inch alloy wheels, oversized all-terrain tires, locking front and rear differentials, disconnecting front sway bar, and rock sliders. Mud, sand, rocks and snow—you’re ready to attack all of it!
Two gas engines and one new diesel engine are available: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that makes 285 horses and 260 pound-feet, and the new 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel that produces 260 HP and 442 pound-feet. Transmissions are either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic.
Jeep handling has improved over the years, but they still drive more like trucks than most crossovers. With that said, the current Wrangler is more civilized than older models but don’t expect it to drive and handle with the more refined manners of a crossover.
My tester has the new diesel engine with the eight-speed automatic. There’s plenty of power for every conceivable driving situation, whether on- or off-road. The eight-speed shifts quickly and smoothly. The steering is a bit loose. The boxy shape makes for noticeable body lean when cornering. Road and wind noise can get fairly loud at times, especially at higher speeds. You’ll definitely notice bumps and rough roads. Visibility is pretty good all the way around.
Fuel efficiency is pretty good for the class with the diesel engine. EPA ratings for my tester are 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with a combined rating of 25 mpg. I got 24 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior has a clean layout. Materials look and feel good. There are numerous controls for off-roading but they’re laid out well in a logical fashion so they don’t look overwhelming. Front seats are comfortable and even taller adults will have plenty of headroom. Getting into the Rubicon can be a challenge for some folks since it’s relatively high off the ground with almost 11 inches of ground clearance. The grab handles sure come in handy!
I’m a fan of the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system with its sharp graphics and quick response time. Buttons and knobs make it easy to make audio and climate adjustments. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard with both the 7- and 8.4-inch systems.
Standard features in all Wranglers include push button start, rearview camera, five-inch touch screen, eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, and two 12-volt outlets.
Available features include remote keyless entry, remote start, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, automatic climate control, 7-inch and 8.4-inch touch screens, navigation, HD Radio, satellite radio, an Alpine sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, additional USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.
The Wrangler does not have as many driver assistance technologies as most rivals. You can get blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and rear parking sensors.
The four-door Wrangler Unlimited has 31 cubic feet behind the second row and 72 cubes with the second row folded. The rear seats fold into the floor and there are six tie-down points so you can secure the load. There’s also a hidden compartment area under the floor.
Awesome off-road capability
Open-air driving fun
New diesel engine
Iconic Jeep style
Noticeable road and wind noise in cabin
Ride can be rough
Not as many available driver assistance technologies as rivals
My tester starts at $42,125. Option L is $1,495 and adds leather-trimmed bucket seats, leather-wrapped park brake handle, leather-wrapped shift knob and premium door trim panel. The Customer Preferred Package 26R is $795 and adds trailer-tow and heavy-duty electrical group auxiliary switches, 240-amp alternator and 700-amp maintenance free battery. The LED Lighting Group is $1,045 and adds front LED fog lamps, LED reflector headlamps, daytime running lamp LED accents and LED tail lamps. The Radio and Premium Audio Group is $1,695 and adds Uconnect infotainment system with 8.4-inch display, Alpine Premium audio system HD Radio, 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hot Spot, GPS navigation, and rear view auto-dimming mirror. The Safety Group is $895 and adds ParkSense rear park-assist system and blind-spot and cross-path detection. The Advanced safety Group is $795 and adds adaptive cruise control with stop, advanced brake assist and full speed forward collision warning plus. The Steel Bumper Group is $1,395 and adds a steel front bumper and steel rear bumper. The eight-speed automatic transmission and Hill Descent Control are $2,000. The 3.0-liter V6 Turbo diesel engine with ESS, 18.3-gallon fuel tank and 3.73 rear axle ratio are $4,000. Remote proximity keyless entry is $495. Body color fender flares are $495. Sky One-Touch Power Top is $3,995 and comes with removable rear quarter windows, rear window defroster, rear window wiper/washer and power top quarter window storage bag. 17-inch x 7.5-inch black wheels with machined lip are $995. The destination charge is $1,495 bringing the grand total to $63,715.
If you want a trail-ready SUV that excels at off-roading, the Jeep Wrangler is for you. This is one rugged and capable SUV that can go just about anywhere. And it has an upscale cabin and lots of standard and available features. However, if you do most of your driving on paved roads, the Wrangler isn’t the best choice. Other compact SUVs and crossovers are better suited as daily drivers.