$19,241 - $36,957

2018 Jeep Wrangler Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Jeep Wrangler was new.


Performance: 7.9

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler still comes standard with a V6 engine, but you can now opt for a turbo-four engine that feels a little quicker. On the road, this Jeep feels stable but stodgy. Off the pavement, it shines and stands head and shoulders above its classmates. Fuel economy is below-average for the class

  • "As base engines go, the 3.6-liter V6 is no stick in the mud, its 285 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque getting the 2-ton (or more) Wrangler up and running with little effort. By my wristwatch, it gets to 60 mph in an estimated seven seconds …" -- New York Daily News
  • "On-road, some suspension changes, including retuned springs, contribute to a solid, confident feel I never experienced in my TJ. Body roll is minimal, and the ride is controlled without being unduly harsh." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "We admitted to bashing a skid plate on one particular hairy stretch of boulders. 'No problem. That's what they're there for,' responded an unknown engineer. And that sums up the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. Sometimes, you just want to go bashing through the rocks, the mud, the snow, or the sand. And that is exactly what the Wrangler is there for. The fact that it's so much easier to live with the rest of the time proves that this is the best Wrangler that Jeep has ever built." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The Wrangler’s base engine didn’t change with the redesign; it is still a standard 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This engine is capable but won’t really impress you with its acceleration or power.

Aside from the base V6, the 2018 Wrangler is now available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This engine also has a mild e-assist to improve fuel economy. A hybrid Wrangler. What a time to be alive.

The V6 engine comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but you can opt for an eight-speed automatic. The automatic transmission is standard with the turbo-four.

With the automatic transmission and base engine, the Wrangler gets an estimated 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. That’s significantly worse than almost every other compact SUVs’ fuel economy. Models with the turbo-four engine do a bit better – 23 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

The Wrangler can tow up to 2,000 pounds, while the Wrangler Unlimited can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

  • "The powertrain reads like old news, but only for the base truck. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is standard, even on the top-level Rubicon. … It remains a serviceable if uninspiring motor; in this new application, it hasn't picked up any of the low-end grunt that it could so badly use. Once I learn to ignore its high-rpm wail while cruising in low range – something I have to relearn every time I'm driving a Wrangler in low – it works well enough." -- Autoweek
  • "The big news underhood is the new 16-valve, direct-injection, twin-scroll turbo four. It makes less power … than the V-6 but considerably more torque. … It's also uncannily quiet (I once walked right past it and didn't even realize it was running) and well-mannered. Like the V-6, the turbo completed the rock climb without breaking a sweat. And on some limited highway sections (most were off-road), it was subdued, pulling well from low revs, never strained. Frankly, I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. It'll be interesting to sample one back in the 'real world.'" -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The V6 supplies better-than-adequate acceleration all-around, and the turbo 4-cylinder is surprisingly energetic. Punch the four's throttle, and-after a tiny bit of lag as the turbo spools up-it shoots forward with satisfying zip. On both engines, the stop/start feature functioned smoothly. The 8-speed automatic transmission works well with both powertrains, with smooth, timely shifts and no apparent 'hunting' for the right gear. The V6-only 6-speed manual is much more refined than in previous Wranglers; it has a big, hefty shift knob and smooth shift-lever/clutch-pedal action." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The Wrangler is one of the most capable SUVs on the market when it comes to off-roading, but that doesn’t translate into on-road athleticism. There’s some body lean when you go around corners, and the boxy shape makes crosswinds an issue at times. On the bright side, the Wrangler is stable and fairly maneuverable. Don’t expect a smooth ride, though. The tough suspension means that road imperfections rarely go unnoticed.

  • "Driving a Jeep on the pavement is, well, like driving a Jeep on the pavement. The solid front and rear axles mean it's not going to win any comfort contests, and despite the improved aerodynamics offered from the raked windshield and seven-slot grill, it's still pretty easy to catch a crosswind. That said, Jeep added vents behind the front fenders so the hood flutter from yesteryear is gone and wind noise, at least in the hard top, has been improved." -- CNET
  • "The on-road ride is more controlled and less 'wallowy' than before, but it's still rather stiff and somewhat brittle over anything but glass-smooth pavement – particularly on the shorter-wheelbase 2-door models. However, most Wrangler shoppers will willingly make the trade-off in comfort, just like sports-car buyers will tolerate a taut ride for superior corner-carving capability." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The turning circle is improved on the JL, enabling it to snake through tight mountain bends that the JKs along with us could only manage by stopping, backing up, and re-turning into the corner." -- Automobile Magazine


Part-time four-wheel drive comes standard in the Wrangler, as do skid plates. These features contribute to this Jeep’s off-road abilities, which are the stuff of legends. Any Wrangler model is capable of handling heavy off-road work, but the higher trims are especially rugged.

The top-end Rubicon trim was built with serious off-roading in mind. The Rubicon models feature locking rear differentials and heavier-duty suspensions, enabling them to tackle even the most daunting terrain.

  • "The Wrangler's storied off-road capabilities aren't diminished with the redesign. Our preview test drive included a crawl up this steep, precariously rocky hill. We had the opportunity to sample a handful of Wranglers both on and off-road during our press-preview test drive. Jeep says the suspension was tuned to optimize on-road handling and ride comfort without sacrificing off-road capability. The Wrangler's mountain-goat capabilities continue unabated; we took Rubicon models on an extremely challenging off-road course that included extra-steep ascents over large, loose rocks, and the Jeeps didn't miss a beat." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Wrangler just inspires confidence under all circumstances. Reach the point where you feel like most SUVs would simply roll over? Nope, Wrangler is fine. Worried about that tight spot up ahead? Wrangler fits. Concerned about the frame-grabbing rock up ahead? Point your wheel at it and just go. You're fine. And when you screw up, the standard (across all trims, mind you) skid plates are there to save your ass." -- Left Lane News

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