The beloved Jeep Wrangler is in a league of its own, an off-road beast that's received a significant redesign for 2018. It remains the only vehicle where you can drop the windshield, and remove the doors and roof, transforming this SUV into an open-air beauty. The new version retains its classic proportions, while expanding its engine choices. Jeep markets its four-door Wrangler Unlimited version separately.

Best Value

The Wrangler Sport is the best buy in the range, if only because the Rubicon is so single-minded in its off-road focus and so expensive in its price. But be wary, the Sport requires a lot of extras to make it a livable everyday vehicle. Start with the eight-speed automatic (unless you like rowing your own gears – the standard six-speed manual is a charmer), then add the Sport S Package. While pricey at $3,200, it fills out the Wrangler Sport's sparse feature list with simple stuff like power windows and door locks, air conditioning, automatic headlights, and keyless entry.

It also grants access to a host of must-have option packages. Grab the Technology Group for its improved infotainment system and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Unless you live in a place that's perpetually warm, the Cold Weather Group is a good buy, too, adding heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. While we don't recommend it because it makes turning the Wrangler into an open-air machine more difficult, consider carefully whether you'll benefit from a removable hardtop. It improves the Wrangler's all-weather ability, but eliminates the possibility of spur-of-the-moment convertible driving.

Keep in mind when shopping for this vehicle to specify the latest Wrangler as Jeep offers two 2018 versions — old (JK) and new (JL). The newer version wears the "All-New" designation in its name, although you'll still want to specify which Wrangler you're shopping for when walking into a dealership.

  • Model: 2018 Jeep All-New Wrangler Sport
  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6
  • Output: 285 hp/ 260 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 18 City / 23 Hwy
  • Options: Eight-speed automatic transmission ($2,000, eight-speed automatic), Sport S Package ($3,200, automatic headlamps, power-heated side mirrors, keyless entry, 17-inch aluminum wheel, power windows and door locks, and air conditioning), Technology Group ($995, seven-inch touchscreen, UConnect 4 infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic climate control, instrument cluster display, SiriusXM satellite radio), Cold Weather Group ($895, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, remote start), Convenience Package ($195, universal garage door opener, required for Cold Weather Group)
  • Base Price: $28,190 (including $1,195 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $35,475

Performance

Jeep All New Wrangler

The Wrangler's base V6 supplies strong, smooth acceleration and is especially well suited with the new automatic transmission. The manual gearbox is also new, but we’ve noticed that the engine’s low-end torque is especially exacerbated. We also know that when shifting in the even gears, your hand will brush up against the center console.

Where this model shines is wherever pavement is absent. We like the improvement Jeep made with the Wrangler’s steering, an electro-hydraulic system that is evenly weighted and gives you a better idea of what is gaining on with the front wheels when foraging off-road. It also tracks quite well when on the pavement.

Extreme off-roaders will shop the Rubicon with its 33-inch all-terrain tires. Beefier axles and a special part-time transfer case with a much-desired crawl ratio allow the Rubicon to go places most other models won’t or shouldn’t go.

Style

At first glance, you may miss the changes Jeep made to the all-new Wrangler. Pay attention to the details and the changes begin to emerge, including to the grille, which cants slightly rearward at the top. The headlights are bigger and now press into the grille, like Jeeps of old. The widened track and revamped fender flares give the Wrangler a more powerful stance than in the past. Other notable changes include a more aerodynamically raked windshield, a new header bar connecting the front roof pillars and new lightweight, high-strength aluminum doors.

Inside, the changes are more dramatic and that’s a good thing. Jeep reshaped the entire dash assembly, supplying it with a lower window line for a more open feel. Controls are placed higher, although there is some clutter that can make it difficult to decipher them with a quick glance, such as when driving. Most models have a 5.0-inch audio display with an available 8.4-inch unit that looks better, but is also pricey.

But there are drawbacks to the redesign. The seating position is too high, causing visibility issues for taller drivers. And during our testing of a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, we noticed some worrying material wear fairly early in the vehicle's life. Still, the chairs are comfortable and the two-door model still has enough second-row legroom to get by with.

The Best and Worst Things

The Jeep is still the unquestionable champion in off-road ability. Even a base model is remarkably capable on the trail.

The bad news is, this capability comes at a cost. A well-equipped Wrangler Sport can push up against $40,000, while the Rubicon comes worryingly close to $50,000. That's a lot of money for a vehicle that sacrifices everyday comfort for off-road ability.

Right For? Wrong For?

Jeep All New Wrangler

If you prefer tackling trails, the Jeep Wrangler should top your list. With up to 30 inches of water fording, matchless ground clearance and crawl ratios, and stellar approach, breakover and departure angles, your off-road fantasy become a reality.

If you’re considering the 2018 Wrangler as your daily driver, it may not work, especially if your commute is long. Although its ride has improved, it still isn’t meant for long drives. The V6 is also thirsty.

The Bottom Line

We like that Jeep has expanded the Wrangler’s engine offerings to include a turbo four-cylinder engine. For some, waiting an extra year for the turbodiesel’s arrival may be worth it. But if you can't wait, you’ll find the best Wrangler yet, delivering an improved on-road ride and a far nicer interior than previous models.