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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