By on December 27, 2017

2018 Jeep Wrangler

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?

2018 Jeep Wrangler

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.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

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 #blessed 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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21 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sport...”

  • avatar

    No A/C on the base model. Hmmm. I wonder how long that will last? That’s a prerequisite for DD use in most parts of the country. Especially the South and Southwest.

    MY old man had a 79′ Ford F100 Custom. Three on the tree, no A/C. A tradesman special. In Dallas. That ended up being a one-time experiment in A/C-less motoring….

    • 0 avatar

      The Renegade Sport also doesn’t have A/C standard and hasn’t since that model’s launch.

      It is just a thing FCA/Jeep does to advertise a lower base price. In reality you are going to have search far and wide to find one on dealer’s lot without the A/C option. With the Wrangler in general Jeep is trying their hardest to hide just how much more expensive the new model is.

    • 0 avatar

      “That’s a prerequisite for DD use in most parts of the country. Especially the South and Southwest.”
      —- People drove in cars for a long, long time without AC units in them; they’re getting too soft if they need AC all the time. Believe it or not, I achieved 25mpg back in ’80 with a black Dodge Aspen (coupe, not SUV) traveling through the southwest in the middle of summer during one of Texas’ famous droughts… daytime temperatures over 100°F… with the AC turned off and the windows only lowered about 2″ to allow air flow through the cabin. I didn’t suffer because the air was so dry my sweat alone was keeping me cool enough. My point? “especially the … Southwest” is a false statement. Moreover, if you’re off-roading in said deserts, you’re very probably running with doors off and quarter and rear windows removed (reportedly much easier with the ’18 model.) AC is simply a waste of money under those conditions.

      Now, that isn’t to say that in the “Old South” AC isn’t helpful… with that high humidity the cold, dry air is a big help. But if you’re doing technical driving (yes, possible even there) you still need maximum visibility so doors and windows are likely to come off for everything but a deep mud bog or hood-burying stream fording.

      So is the AC REALLY needed?

      • 0 avatar

        Hey, if you want to suffer, be my guest.

        Otherwise, A/C is needed.

        • 0 avatar

          There’s a big difference between “it’s an option” and “dealers actually order them without.”

          I predict that few dealers will order them minus AC – even dealers that stock manual transmission models.

        • 0 avatar

          No sufferin’ if you’re accustomed to it. The southwest desert may be hot, but as long as you keep the direct sun off of yourself, more bearable than many other climates that are more humid.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, a/c on virtually anything new is a prerequisite. The cost is not an issue when compared to the total price of a new vehicle. And new Jeeps are generally used as daily drivers, not as hard core off roaders.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Vulpine, air conditioning is absolutely required if you plan to use a vehicle as a daily driver in a place that has temperatures above body temperature and stop and traffic where air flow is intermittent. The worst I’ve experienced was dead air conditioning, heat index of 117F outside the car, and traffic stopped by a wreck on I-635 in Dallas. Hard to concentrate on driving with that level of discomfort and you’ll need a shower when you reach your destination.

        • 0 avatar

          @George B: Would you believe that I intentionally installed a switch in one of my cars to PREVENT the AC compressor from running?

          Yes, in humid climates especially, AC is needed. In every other circumstance, all you need is good airflow and you don’t need an AC compressor to give you that, only a good ventilation system.

          (But then, I remember a co-worker of my Dad’s who tried to pretend he had AC in a non-AC-equipped car IN one of those high-humidity regions! Talk about idiocy!)

          Oh, and note the description of my own personal experience driving through Texas in a black car. I’m no more immune to heat than the next person but knowing how to control your exposure to it can get you through circumstances where someone else may collapse.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh, dear. Stuck on LBJ in a heatwave. That’s miserable.

          • 0 avatar

            I used to commute from 75 and Campbell in Richardson to Roanoke in a ’66 Thunderbird with broken A/C and vinyl seats. I’d normally put a towel on the seatback so my back wouldn’t be drenched in sweat. I wouldn’t call it enjoyable, but it worked.

  • avatar

    The target JL client will get a 84 month loan anyway so the base will only go to modders looking for a good platform to build upon.

    “Unlimited” these days mostly refers to what people are willing to pay for vehicles.

  • avatar

    First off, I think it’s way too early to be talking “Ace of Base” on a vehicle that’s not yet available, even if you do make some interesting points. Not necessarily valid ones, but interesting nonetheless.

    True, for the Wrangler, the base model is ideal for the DIY rock-crawler. These are the 1%-5% that can do it better than the Rubicon (or think they can, anyway.) These are the ones that prefer (more often than not) to trailer their crawler in, rather than highway riding 50, 100, 200 miles or more in a rig likely to be highly unstable at speed. And considering most of these folks ride doors-off and top down (or maybe a thin bikini top just to keep the sun off their heads) simply don’t need or want a horsepower-sapping AC unit coming on just as they’re needing those few extra horses on a climb. And having driven an ’08 on rocks with a manual, I’ll stick to the slushbox with my next off-road Jeep; a lot easier to keep smooth power going at an engine-idle crawl without worrying whether you’ll burn out your clutch trying not to overpower a relatively small boulder and go crashing your belly (and maybe your driveshaft) because you couldn’t coordinate wheel, clutch, brake and gas quickly enough. Yes, I know… Heel and toe. But A. I’m somewhat bowlegged so can’t twist my hip and ankle enough to do it with any reliability and B. When you’re bouncing around like that, just keeping your foot in place can be a challenge. Sure, that finger-throttle thing my be helpful but does it give you enough fine control?

    You did mention in passing the factory warranty on buying the Rubi and that is a good thing, at least as long as the vehicle itself remains under warranty. And like you said, better than 95% of Jeep drivers today simply aren’t going to take their rig right to the limits of its ability. On the other hand, I recommend to ALL new Wrangler drivers that they join a Jeep club or visit their ‘local’ off-road park to at least get a feel for what their new rig can do. Some seem to think it can do anything and end up getting stuck in places they never should have even had problems because they believe power is everything. Knowing what you have under you and how to use it properly is the best way to ensure you can get out of trouble.

  • avatar

    I need a hardtop, AC, and I’d strongly consider the automatic.

    I think it’s an easy prediction to say regardless of whether Fiatsler still exists in 10 years, Jeep will still be around in someones stable of brands.

    • 0 avatar

      Jeep is a highly successful parasite, having killed multiple hosts yet survived and thrived.

      I can’t even imagine buying any vehicle without A/C at this point. Just not going to happen. You will never find one on a lot south of Maine anyway. Maybe not south of Quebec.

  • avatar

    I thought FCA was going to finally put AC as standard equipment in the new JL. At $27k without, the value just isn’t nearly as good when the JK started at like $24k instead.

    No AC is a showstopper for me. Personally, I find it silly to order without AC as you’ll get all of that money back when you sell it. It would probably sell much quicker with it.

  • avatar

    I’d order mine with A/C and a hardtop (and nothing else). A/C is necessary in the summer if you want to drive on the highway in comfort and (relative) quiet while listening to the stereo. It also helps in the winter as the defrost setting works better with A/C on board. The hardtop is pretty crucial for winter use, as well.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    Not at all worth 3K more than a JK.

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