My favorite Superbowl ad was by far the new Jeep Wrangler ad (video shown below). I have been following the launch of the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL/JLU from afar and decided I needed to go have a look.
As long-time readers know my first Jeep was a 1993 Jeep Wrangler Sahara that I purchased in 1995. I loved my Jeep Wrangler but later sold it in 2002 to buy my wife’s wedding ring. It was a great trade, but I do miss having the doors and top off of my Jeep on warm summer afternoons.
Fast forward a few years, add tons of electronic amenities, two more doors, a modern suspension and leather seats AND THEN you have the New 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara.
Other than the classic Jeep Wrangler look there is little that resembles my almost “antique” 1993 Wrangler with leaf springs and quirky square headlights. (Yes YJ owners, I know only real Jeeps have square headlights)
So what did I like about the New Jeep Wrangler?
That’s easy, just about everything!
You can tell the designers really studied (almost) every aspect of the ownership experience for the new wrangler. It is obvious tremendous thought that went into the upgrades while still keeping the all-important Wrangler heritage intact.
There were lots of small details that caught my attention like the Jeep grille logo embedded in the headlights, the front dash speakers neatly tucked in the corners of the narrow dash, buttons on the front and back of the steering wheel that seems to control almost every function of the Jeep, the ability to actually put the windshield down without an hour of labor, and the fact that the front leather seats were very soft while providing ample support.
They also make several important upgrades over the previous JK model by venting the hood so it doesn’t shake like crazy at highway speeds, it’s lighter and more aerodynamic which improves fuel economy, the automatic is an 8-speed transmission and they improved the underbody layout and increased ground clearance right from the factory.
Want to know my biggest surprise?
The seats. They were soft! I was shocked. No, they are not Grand Wagoneer soft, but by modern standards, they have tremendous give when you push on them or better yet when you sit on them. I bet it will make a big difference when traversing a rocky offroad trail.
Let me make a quick side note (i.e. rant) about automotive seats today…
As the owner and frequent driver of a 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, I long for the days of a plush comfortable reclineresque driver’s seat. It seems that every automotive manufacturer is infatuated with producing race car like seats with giant side bolsters a brick hard seat bottom. Modern seats may be able to support an elephant for the next fifty years but they wear a humans backside out on a 30-minute drive!
Manufacturers need to remember all cars are not built to be race cars, nor should they be. I pray Jeep with put plush-luxurious seats in the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer if it ever comes to market. I have been critical of the new Grand Wagoneer rumors in my 2016 article here, stating that I think the new Grand Wagoneer will fail if they are trying to take on the likes of Land Rover. I don’t want a Land Rover, I was a big a$$ American Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Well, no need to rehash it here, just read the article.
With this said, I truly hope it’s a winning vehicle for Jeep and I will be pulling for the designers to “get it right” because I desperately want to buy one if it fits my needs. If it’s a rebranded Dodge Durango… <insert bad word after bad word> …forget about it!
Okay, enough of my rant about most automotive seats and the future Grand Wagoneer because…
The new 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is Not Perfect
There is so much to like about this new Wrangler, BUT… <dramatic pause>
I found one fatal flaw and a few other quirks worth mentioning.
Jeep designers and the marketing department will hate me for this, but if you are thinking about buying the new 208 JL Wrangler Unlimited you need to check this out for yourself.
I went on a 10-minute test drive, I got it over 75 miles-per-hour and it drove great, it handled the twisting side roads without issue too.
So what is this fatal flaw?
It’s where to place your left leg when driving an automatic. I am 6’1″ tall and I could stretch my left leg out straight to the firewall which was great. However, one of my favorite things about driving a proper body on frame SUV is the upright chair-like seating position. When I am on the highway I like to move my legs around to be able to stay comfortable. In the new Wrangler, I simply could not get my left leg comfortable. If I pulled my leg up under me there was a riser in the floor that the seat is mounted to that blocked my foot. Then I tried putting my foot far left against the door and there is another contoured spot and the molded floor mat sticks up making for an uneven floorboard in that location too. It would be perfect with the doors off and sticking my foot on the door jamb, but that isn’t practical for daily driving.
I know there are tons of people who will daily drive the new Jeep and I was really hoping I could be one of them. But when I learned that I couldn’t get my left leg comfortable for a ten-minute test drive, I just knew I would go mad on a 3 hour trip to the beach during summer weekends.
They Need to Make the Back Seats Recline!
Another dislike is the rear seat. In the JK model there was a hack developed to lift the front of the rear seat to give a bit of a recline to the seat back. I really thought Jeep designers would figure this flaw out and add a recline feature for the back seat. Surely it would not be hard to do, and it would make the back seats much more comfortable for an adult.
This brings us to the final quirk I want to point out.
True or False: Proximity Warning Flaw?
Supposedly it is possible to disable a JL Wrangler with proximity warning by parking too close. If it’s true, I am 100% certain current Jeep JK owners will be doing this to pick on their new younger Jeep siblings.
(For those who have never owned a Wrangler, it has been a legacy of Wrangler owners that the prior model owners must pick on the newer model owners. CJ guys picked on YJ guys for their square headlight, YJ owners teased TJ owners for their coil springs and minivan plastic dash… and on and on. Everyone has been picking on the mall crawling JK owners and now it’s their turn to pick on JL owners)
Back to the supposed proximity quirk…
This quirk was pointed out in a Youtube video by Teraflex. Take a look…
So without rewatching the video before doing our test to see exactly how they did it, we pulled my GX 460 up alongside the driver’s side leaving just enough room for someone to get in the door.
Did it work? Were we successful in disabling the new Wrangler?
It did not work the way we tested it. We were able to jump in the driver’s seat and move the Jeep forward and backward. So can we say conclusively that it is not possible to disable the JL? No, we can’t.
What we can say is the test failed the way we tried. Maybe we will do a Teraflex challenge video trying to perfectly recreate their video. It could be Jeep updated the programming to keep this from happening. I don’t know.
What I do know is that our test was a failure and that is a good thing for future JL Wrangler owners.
Okay my friends, that’s all I have for now on the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited.
Would I want one? absolutely.
Will I be buying one right now? Probably not.
However, this is a great Jeep and one worthy of carrying on the Wrangler legacy. I hope to be behind the wheel of one for a much longer test drive sometime in the future.
Keywords: New Jeep Wrangler, 2018 Sahara Unlimited, Jeep Review and Test Drive