I want to start this article out with a disclaimer. I have never been a huge fan of the Jeep Wrangler. In fact, I've never been a fan of the Jeep brand in general. I respect the company for everything they've accomplished and where they came from, but they're not for me. Even as much as I love Land Rovers and how the original Land Rover was inspired by the Jeep, I still can't bring myself to like the poor man's G-Wagon. With the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, though, some of that changed. Let me explain.
To me, most Jeep Wranglers are bought by people for a few reasons, but few of them include actually using the Jeep for what it was designed for. I know the same applies to Land Rover and Range Rover models, but at least they've adapted to that market over time by adding luxury to their vehicles. Jeep, on the other hand, still don't put much of any luxury in the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL.
My biggest complaint with the Jeep Wrangler is that if you're going to buy a big boxy SUV, why not buy one with luxury and capability? Why not buy the Land Rover? It's not like you can use “reliability” as an excuse because even after talking to dealers, Jeeps are in for service more frequently than any other vehicle they sell. So, why buy the Jeep?
On the other hand, I get the appeal. It's the same general appeal and love that I have for the Land Rover Defender, and even old 90s models are nearing 2x the price of a brand new Jeep with a great spec. It's rugged, capable, can take a beating, and they look like the good old boxy SUV we all love in a sea of rounded crossovers and luxury SUVs.
I have little room to complain about the Jeep being expensive, too, since I'm a huge fan of the Defender, which has a much higher sales price after 20 years of being beat on. But Land Rover Defenders are an icon that is still used for reaching the most difficult places on Earth. While Jeep marketed their previous generation Wrangler to “mall crawlers” and did very little to keep the heritage, Land Rover continues to build upon the foundations of which they are founded on.
So, can the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL save the brand? Here's our overview.
2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Overview
The fourth generation of the Wrangler comes at a pivotal point in automotive history. Cars, trucks, and SUVs are becoming more and more complex and luxurious by the day, and unfortunately, Jeep left the Wrangler out to dry with common luxuries. Even the key, which is an important part of the experience of owning the car, feels cheap and truly awful. It's a strange thing to complain about, but it shows the lack of attention to detail that went into the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL.
Moving from the key, you'll quickly notice some of the small changes Jeep made to their latest generation of the Wrangler, and I have to give it to them here. They truly made the design of the new Jeep look modern while maintaining the boxy SUV style. This alone is my favorite part of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. I'm disappointed with Land Rover for their recent redesign of the Discovery. Rounded corner makes off-roading hell, and, if we're honest, off-roading is what these vehicles are made for.
The Jeep's design isn't flawless, and some aspects will take getting used to. Overall, though, I'm impressed with their dedication to making the Wrangler remain a familiar vehicle in their lineup. While it was overdue for a change, there was no reason to make the Jeep Wrangler a rounded blob. Good job, Chrysler, on keeping to your roots here.
Overall, I'm VERY impressed with the Jeep Wrangler's redesign, and I think it was a step in the right direction for the brand. Good job!
Moving onto the interior, though, we start to go downhill. Jeep fans of past will be relieved to know that practically nothing has changed. It's slightly more user-friendly inside with the controls, and the overall feel of it is nowhere near as cheap as the previous generation. However, it lacks a lot of the luxury features that you should expect in a vehicle that costs this much. Our test model was around $50,000, and for that, you could buy a MUCH nicer and just as capable vehicle.
I get it. Jeep wants you to be able to remove pretty much every body panel in order to cruise down the highway with everyone being able to see you. I mean, they want to make the vehicle fun for off-roading… Yeah, that's right… But here's the problem. Because that was one of their higher priorities, it's made for a truly awful interior. Things are scattered all over the place, and there's no reason for the interior to be that messy and overwhelming. If you want simple, stay simple. But the interior of the new Jeep Wrangler JL is overcomplicated and awful compared to what you should expect in a vehicle of this price.
Speaking of awful, let's take a moment to talk about the overall ride quality and passenger experience. It's beyond terrible. I'm astonished that in 2018 Jeep could make a vehicle THIS uncomfortable. During the time I had with the 2018 Wrangler JL, I enjoyed the moments most when I was not driving, moving, or even in the vehicle.
Compared to even my 2011 Range Rover, which is far from the standard of the L405 model Range Rover, the quality of the ride is horrendous. Passenger comfort is very very poor as well, and I'm truly surprised by that as it was one of the biggest complaints of the previous generation Wrangler. I understand that no true off-road rugged vehicle is very comfortable, but I expected a little more than what the Jeep Wrangler JL offered.
Overall, it seems like Jeep is torn between trying to make a luxury SUV like the G-Wagon and a rugged tradition Jeep. And it's awful. The interior is truly tiny compared to most other SUVs, and the overall functionality of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is awkward, to say the least. While it's a huge improvement from the previous generation Jeep Wrangler JK, it's still not the quality level I expected.