Living with the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: the good and the bad Page 2


The Good: Jeep will offer more efficient Wranglers in the future. Alongside the 2.0-liter mild hybrid pairing, we're eagerly awaiting the arrival of a diesel, both of which should help elevate the Wrangler's average fuel economy beyond the high teens.

The Bad: For now, the 3.6-liter V-6 is all we've got. It's rated at just 17 mpg city and 23 highway for 19 combined. But I struggled to hit that 17-mpg figure. While cold weather and winter fuel likely had an impact on my mileage, the Jeep's short, aggressive gearing, willing throttle, and brick-like aerodynamics will make hitting the highway figure a challenge for owners.

The Good: Holy moly, the Wrangler's steering is a revelation. Even with 33-inch tires up front, the new electro-hydraulic steering rack requires less maintenance when driving at speed than the outgoing rack. There's a sense of stability that the old hydraulic system in the Wrangler JK can't come close to matching.

The Bad: The Rubicon's ride is not comfortable. The suspension is hilariously soft, to the point that I almost lost control on a particularly brutal highway pothole that sent the Rubicon bump steering away. Tire roar from those 33-inch tires is constant and wind noise, even with my tester's optional hardtop, whips through the cabin.

The Good: Jeep's designers focused on improving visibility in the 2018 Wrangler. The lower beltline has dramatically improved lateral visibility, while a larger rear window helped for rearward visibility. Jeep's integration of the rearview camera to the center of the spare wheel is a neat choice, giving drivers a better perspective than above the license plate (although it's going to kill the market for aftermarket spare wheel covers.)

DON'T MISS: Shocking: 2020 Jeep Wrangler plug-in hybrid electric coming

The Bad: Somehow, the front windshield is smaller. It's easy to spot from outside the car, but the impact from behind the wheel is tangible. At traffic lights, I had to hang back for a good view of what's happening, and there's an almost chop-top sensation in normal driving. And beyond that, it is a bizarre design choice. From the front, the windshield looks too small for the rest of the Jeep's proportions, particularly the lower beltline.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The Good: The new cabin looks great. There are plenty of neat design touches that feel functional. The grenade-shaped shift knob is among the best and one of Jeep's few Easter eggs that's genuinely useful—it's the perfect size and is easy to grip. I drove the Wrangler in January, so I wasn't able to remove the doors, pull the hardtop off, or lower the windshield, but after doing all of the above with a Willys Wheeler last summer, I can't wait to see how much easier Jeep's engineers have made these physically demanding, time-consuming tasks.

The Bad: The front seats aren't very good. There's not enough support and the lower cushion could stand to extend a few inches forward to provide more leg support. But my bigger concern was my test car's beige leather upholstery. Despite barely 1,800 miles on the clock, there was already a distinct tinge of blue on the outer bolster of the driver's side bolster, no doubt from the brushing of oversized, denim-clad journalist bottoms (your author's included). Press loaners usually live harder lives than privately owned vehicles, but to see it on a product that's barely broken in and on upholstery that adds $1,495 to the price tag is very disappointing.


 
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