Driven by enthusiasts: the features that make the 2018 Jeep Wrangler stand out

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

You can warm a breakfast burrito under the hood of a 2018 Jeep Wrangler, chief designer Mark Allen told us.

That’s not something endorsed by Jeep’s lawyers, of course. Allen, stepping out of the way of a dangling cholla cactus in the desert outside of Tucson during the 2018 Wrangler media preview, told us “there’s nothing like eggs in a burrito first thing in the morning in Moab.”

MORE: 2018 Jeep Wrangler preview

Jeep’s chief enthusiast learns just everything he needs to know from the brand’s rabid enthusiast base during the annual Easter Jeep Safari in the red rock canyons of southeastern Utah. Ideas gathered there are translated into features that make production, for example like a bank of auxiliary switches that can be custom programmed via the infotainment system and a third brake light that can be adjusted to legally accommodate tires up to 35 inches in diameter.

What’s not on the list is a burrito warmer, though. A Jeep engineer jokingly sent an engine cover design with a graphic of a steaming burrito to the company’s legal department. Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ lawyers nixed the design without even a chuckle, so Allen’s team drafted up another engine cover with a circle and a strike-through—like a no smoking sign—over the burrito.

“I got a phone call that time,” Allen chuckled.

Here’s a look at some of the features that did make their way to the 2018 Wrangler JL, as it’s known to enthusiasts:

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

Getting a handle on things

The outgoing Wrangler had no handles from the factory, a problem so great that the automaker often handed (pun intended) out ones that attached to the roll cage for free at events like the Easter Jeep Safari.

The 2018 Wrangler features big handles integrated into the A-pillars on all models and into the B-pillars for the rear seat on the 4-door Unlimited. Additionally, the sound bar between the front and rear seats has a handle integrated into it, too.

And, Jeep looked to the military for its MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing, which is integrated into the seatbacks on the most rugged Rubicon models. The Mopar division—and soon the aftermarket, no doubt—will offer many attachments for storing gear.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep’s roof of many colors (and materials)

Jeep will offer two soft-top materials and several different types of hard tops on the 2018 Wrangler. Base Wrangler Sports feature a cost-conscious vinyl top, while a higher grade of premium cloth is fitted to Sahara and Rubicon variants.

Additionally, the Wrangler’s hard top comes in a standard variant that can be removed with a friend and a Torx wrench, a Freedom version that has removable panels for a semi-open experience, and a new Sky top that’s basically a massive power-retractable cloth sunroof. The latter is something Jeep tried briefly with the second-generation Liberty, but the latest version is matched to a far better vehicle.

Jeep’s Mopar division will sell insulation panels that both keep the interior temperature more consistent and quell road noise.

Additionally, Jeep has brought back a tan soft-top option (in addition to carryover black), which Allen says makes a big difference keeping the cabin cooler in sunny climates.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

An optional auxiliary switch blank

Pop the Wrangler’s hood, which can still rest against the windshield in its maximum opening position, and you might find four shrouded wires tucked in near the fuse box—two 15-amp and two 40-amp. They’re part of an optional auxiliary switch package that ties into four buttons on the dashboard. Two are 48-volt, meaning they’re beefy enough to run a compressor or a fridge. Not only that, but the buttons can be programmed to run when the vehicle is off or to be “momentary” for things like horns.

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