Ace of Base: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sport

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base 2018 jeep wrangler sport

In what was possibly the industry’s worst-kept secret since the interminable striptease that was the Dodge Demon, Jeep finally introduced the new Wrangler at the end of this year. Future missives about the Jeepiest of Jeeps will need to be crystal clear, because there are, in fact, two 2018 Wranglers available at one’s local FCA showroom – the new one (JL) and the old one (JK).

Readers can be assured, then, of hearing hyper-caffeinated sales staff blaring in radio ads about ZOMG GREAT DEALZ ON 2018 WRANGLERS – only for frustrated shoppers to discover they are actually talking about the lame-duck Jeep and not the shiny new off-roader.

Nefarious dealer bait-and-switch tactics aside, what does the new Wrangler pack into its base trim?

We know FCA has jacked the sticker by three grand, but are shoppers better off buying an el-cheapo Wrangler and saying “Yes, please” to the entire Mopar catalog instead of signing the note on a fancy-pants Rubicon and being done with it?

A full ten thousand of the finest American dollars separate a two-door Sport and a two-door Rubicon. That’s a lot of coin, and while the aftermarket is currently a bit thin on JL parts and accessories, Jeep itself is looking to get in on the action by offering a Mopar catalog with more than 200 bits and baubles to ‘roid out one’s Wrangler. The benefit of the factory stuff? It’s all covered under warranty.

The base Sport is notably devoid of air conditioning, a $1,295 option. It does come standard with natty 17-inch black styled wheels, a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system (a huge improvement over last year’s prehistoric unit), a backup camera (helpful on the trail and mall parking lot), and a soft top that no longer requires a P.Eng to fandangle into a lowered position.

Under the flat hood is the familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, still making 285 horspower but now bestowed with an electronic start/stop system. Stick with the six-speed stick and, before you protest that a slushbox is the better choice for rock crawling, I encourage you to try a manual-shift Wrangler with an aftermarket hand throttle mounted on the shifter. It is a superb addition, one which allows drivers to blip the throttle during gnarly off-road maneuvers (see below).

Base Wranglers are with 3.45 gears in the Dana rear end, more than stout enough for ninety-nine and a bunch more nines percent of drivers. All nine exterior colors, from stoic Granite Crystal to the extroverted Punk’n Orange, are offered at $0.

Ten grand is a vast yawning chasm of financial consideration, especially when the two Jeeps share the same drivetrain and basic bits. True, the Sport does not possess the Rubicon’s 4:1 Rock-Trac HD 4WD system, nor does it have 4.10 gears or front and rear lockers. However, if one can live without air conditioning – Wrangler’s removable doors and bugs-in-yer-teeth folding windshield suggest that one could – it might be a smarter play to pop for the base model and then splurge on all the above mentioned items plus a few more in the new Mopar catalog … items which are warrantied and can be financed on the Sport’s note.

Not that it’s the most capital of ideas to finance accessories, of course, unless one is planning to keep the thing until its wheels fall off. Whatever one decides, just make sure not to fall for the other 2018 Wrangler dealers will surely soon be advertising at fire-sale prices.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars absent of any rebates or destination fees. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, © 2017 Matthew Guy]

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4 of 21 comments
  • Multicam Multicam on Dec 27, 2017

    My YJ doesn't have AC and since I live in humid Columbus, GA it is sorely missed. On the plus side, the engine bay is so empty (even with the 6-cyl) that I can work on one thing while a buddy wrenches on something else. I'm selling it to get the last great Wrangler, the 2006 Rubicon LJ (the first LJ). Same easy-to-work-on straight six but with a better ride and more cargo space than a YJ. I briefly considered waiting for a 2019 diesel Wrangler but it'll likely be overpriced and won't offer the manual transmission.

    • Wheeljack Wheeljack on Jan 01, 2018

      Go for the Rubicon LJ. You'll love it. I have one and it gets compliments wherever I go, along with the more than occasional offers to buy it from me, which are politely declined. Just be sure to check the cam sensor/oil pump drive unit carefully for unusual/excessive wear.

  • Goatshadow Goatshadow on Dec 28, 2017

    Not at all worth 3K more than a JK.

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
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