2018 Jeep Wrangler JL: Official Specs and Details [UPDATED]

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
2018 jeep wrangler jl official specs and details updated

Finally, after what seemed at times like the world’s longest striptease, the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL officially debuts today at the L.A. Auto Show. Our intrepid Managing Ed is live on the show floor to bring you all the details.

Until then, here’s all the official down-n-dirty, nitty-gritty details about Jeep’s new Wrangler.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: the only way drivers can row-their-own in the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler – at least for now – is if they choose the venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. It’s not a bad engine; the familiar motor will make 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque while now deploying an engine start-stop (ESS) system as standard equipment. Surely the ESS will be able to be switched off while wheeling on a trail.

The other engine available at launch is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. It will make 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Its eTorque system allows for auto stop/start, electric power assist, extended fuel shut-off, intelligent battery charging, and regenerative braking. If this sounds an awful lot like a mild hybrid setup, you’re not too far off.

Most exciting is news that the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine will be available starting in 2019. Four-door Wrangler Unlimited models will offer the diesel V6, rated at 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, with Engine Stop-Start (ESS) standard. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, designed to handle the increased torque output.

[UPDATE] During the reveal in L.A., the company also announced an impending plug-in hybrid powertrain for the new Wrangler, slated to appear in 2020. This version of the JL will no doubt be a separate model from the 2.0L mild hybrid described above. Light on details, the announcement provided no clue as to powertrain specifics but it’s a safe bet it’ll take more than a few cues from the Pacifica plug-in hybrid. Paired with FCA’s 3.6-liter V6, the plug-in Pacifica is good for 33 miles of electric driving if its 16kWh lithium-ion battery is fully charged.

Not that long ago, Ford’s mighty 7.3-liter Power Stroke diesel made about the same amount of torque – 450 lb-ft in the 1998 model year. Now, nearly the same amount of twist is available in a Jeep. We’ll let that sink in for a second.

Fans of the brand had muttered in dark corners of the internet about an impending wussification of the Wrangler platform. They can now rest easy, as the new Wrangler will continue to utilize a body-on-frame design. To protect critical components while on the trail – including the fuel tank, transfer case and automatic transmission oil pan – Wrangler employs four butch skid plates and bars. Rubicon models benefit from the use of heavy gauge tubular steel rock rails to curtail potential body damage inflicted during gnarly rock maneuvers.

The new Jeep uses lightweight, high-strength aluminum for the doors, door hinges, hood, fender flares, and windshield frame. The swing gate is magnesium. This helps reduce weight and boost fuel economy. Other ways the Jeep engineering team looked to reduce weight included using hollow track and stabilizer bars, aluminum engine mounts and steering gear, and a larger, lighter master cylinder.

Off-roaders take note: on Wrangler Rubicon models, an electronic front sway-bar disconnect is featured to provide additional wheel travel when the terrain calls for it. An approach angle of 44 degrees, breakover angle of 27.8 degrees, departure angle of 37 degrees, and a ground clearance of 10.9 inches allows the Wrangler to tackle the hairiest of trails. Its standard 33-inch off-road tires won’t hurt, either.

Does the path to your cottage include a couple of ponds and a stream? Jeep says the new Wrangler can ford through 30 inches of water and continues to utilize the proven five-link coil suspension configuration. A 3,500-pound towing capacity is on tap if customer spec the available towing package. And, yes, the windshield folds down. Excellent.

The new 2018 Jeep Wrangler delivers off-road capability courtesy of a choice of two 4×4 systems. For the first time in Wrangler’s history, a two-speed transfer case with full-time four-wheel drive and a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio is available on Sahara models. This new Selec-Trac full-time two-speed transfer case is intuitive and allows the driver to set it and forget it, while constantly sending power to the front and rear wheels. No doubt, this is a nod to customers who use the Jeep as a family rig and are less familiar with the minutiae of 4×4 systems than regular ‘wheelers.

For them, the Rubicon is equipped with a Rock-Trac 4×4 system featuring heavy duty next-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 4LO ratio of 4:1. A 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard, as are Tru-Lok locking differentials. Wrangler Rubicon models offer improved articulation and total suspension travel versus the previous generation with help from an electronic sway-bar disconnect. Be sure to let the clutch do the work: with the standard six-speed manual transmission, Wrangler Rubicon has a crawl ratio of 84.2:1. Slushbox Rubicons have a crawl ratio of 77.2:1, which is still nothing to sneeze at.

Styling choices, both inside and out, are definitely more evolutionary than revolutionary in nature, and that’s just fine for the majority of Wrangler customers. A sprinkling of LEDs on certain trims give it an updated look, while the top of its signature grille is swept back a bit for better aerodynamics on the highway. The roll bars are now body color, too.

Seven different Wranglers will be on tap on Day 1: two- and four-door versions of the Sport, Sport S, and Rubicon models, plus a four-door Sahara. All of them have the option of either engine with, as mentioned, the six-speed manual limited to the V6 for now.

Jeep enjoys great success with the current Wrangler, forging paths into the driveways of off-road enthusiasts as a trail-busting brute but also into the minds of families looking for a viable alternative to milquetoast crossovers. With this new JL, they’ve placated both camps — the Sahara with its easier-for-the-masses 4×4 system and family-friendly features, the Rubicon for off-road enthusiasts.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Join the conversation
2 of 52 comments
  • Sam Hell Jr Sam Hell Jr on Nov 29, 2017

    2023: "The fact that we're moving Wrangler production to Changsa is, we think, a testament to the worldwide legacy and appeal of the nameplate, a legacy that was built in Toledo and that our Toledo employees should be very proud of. Plainly our goal is to align assembly and buyer need as closely as possible, and in today's North American market and compliance environment, that means unibody crossovers with plug-in capability. We know that our Toledo Assembly Complex team will bring all the commitment and passion to the Compass-ION that they brought to the Wrangler." 2028: "It really was not possible to predict the enduring demand for highly capable, gas-powered off-road vehicles when the alternatives have become so compelling. We felt, and feel, that the Compass-ION represented all that was best at FCA, and although it didn't speak to buyers in the way we anticipated, we truly view the lessons learned in the engineering of this product will serve us well as we continue to adapt to the interconnected mobility needs of our customers. It is our hope and expectation that members of the Toledo Assembly Complex team will bring their skill and experience to the many opportunities FCA has on offer at this juncture, especially those with our newly expanded RoamMe-o autonomous ride-sharing affiliate."

  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on Nov 30, 2017

    Is this just me or this article closely follows the article in Road and Track by Bob Sorokanich? I'm not saying Matt stole from Bob but perhaps some sort of guidance or material by FCA helped to make it happen.

  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
  • ToolGuy You make them sound like criminals.