Jeep reveals new Wrangler at LA Motor Show
Though the Land Rover Defender went out of production in 2016, the iconic Jeep Wrangler soldiers on, providing a similar level of go-anywhere ability... and complete lack of on-road manners. But Jeep has continued developing the Wrangler, and the latest 2018 version is the most sophisticated yet.
Though the look of the new model is still pure Wrangler, it's been given a big technical boost under the skin to bring it more up-to-date with contemporary SUVs. It will continue to be available in two- and four-door guises, with trims including Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon.
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Under the bonnet there will be a choice of three engines. The most interesting model is a seemingly lowly 2.0-litre four-cylinder, but it uses new eTorque mild hybrid technology to improve efficiency. It's rated at 270bhp, while the larger 3.6-litre petrol V6 offers 285bhp.
Likely to be the most popular option in the UK when the Wrangler arrives here in 2019 will be the 3.0-litre diesel. Power is down at 260bhp, but it produces more torque than either of the petrol engines. A six-speed manual is standard, but customers can also spec an eight-speed automatic gearbox – both coming with old-fashioned but effective low-range 'boxes for serious off-roading.
And serious off-roading is certainly possible, thanks to the Wrangler's rugged body-on-frame chassis construction. Jeep says the car can wade through 760mm-deep water, has ground clearance of 277mm and has impressive approach and departure angles thanks to short overhangs at the front and rear.
But it's not all old-school tech. The interior's received an overhaul, featuring a large Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also high-tech safety aids like blind-spot monitoring, electronic roll control and rear cross-traffic detection.
Jeep UK is said to be requesting larger numbers of this Wrangler than the previous model, citing customer demand. Perhaps the Defender's demise has left a gap in the market for a rugged, go-anywhere off-roader – with a healthy dose of heritage?