2020 JLU Sahara Altitude vs Willys test drives (road manners)

RubberToeJLU

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Hi everyone, first post here!

I've been shopping for a Wrangler Unlimited for a couple of months and after driving some later model JKs I finally got to try a couple of JLs.

I took out a Sahara Altitude on Thursday and was quite impressed with its road manners compared to the JKs I drove. It felt pretty tight in the steering and didn't have much, if any lateral shake if you know what I mean. It was a demo vehicle with 8900 kms on it.

Friday I had the chance to take out a 2020 Willys and while I expected it to feel different due to the drastic difference in tires I was a bit surprised. It wasn't horrible by any means but the steering felt looser with a bit of play and the vehicle wandered a bit on the highway. Also a bit of lateral shake which I attributed to the tires & wheels.

A couple things come to mind. One is the steering issue on the JL that I've been reading about, that there can be some play, the "death wobble", etc, and that it's randomly worse on some vehicles. I see there's now a replacement steering box with steel housing that they'll swap in if you're having issues. I wonder if this has anything to do with the difference I felt.

Next is the tires and wheels. The Sahara has 18" wheels with street tires while the Willys has 17's with those gnarly firestones.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks!
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aldo98229

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I test drove 12 JLs before buying, a combination of Saharas and Rubicons. I didn’t find any of them with a “tight” steering, but four had a steering that felt too vague for my liking.

I don’t think it has anything to do with it being a Sahara, a Rubicon or a Willys, having 18 or a 17 inch wheels. Based on everything I’ve seen posted, for some reason FCA hasn’t been able to produce steering boxes with consistent quality. AND, dealers’ habit of over-inflating tires is probably not helping.

Weeks ago I would have never recommended anyone to buy a JL with a steering they didn’t like. FCA has been screwing around with this for years, but FCA has finally come up with a new steering box; there was a TSB issued at the start of this month. I haven’t seen anything posted here, but it appears JT owners are reporting a noticeable improvement in steering feel after having the steering box replaced under this latest TSB.

If I were in your shoes, and found a Jeep I like but the steering felt too vague, I’d bring up the latest TSB to the dealer during the buying process, and have them agree to do the TSB before taking delivery of the vehicle. If they refuse, move on.
 
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RubberToeJLU

RubberToeJLU

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Thanks for sharing, great advice.
 

The Last Cowboy

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The Willys all have MT tires. Like any new MT or aggressive AT, there will be some slight wander for the first 500 miles or so. Mine has no steering issues, 2020 built 10/2019. It took a couple of weeks for the Firestone MTs to break in though.
 

aldo98229

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Welcome to the forum, BTW.
 

R3TRO

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I have a JLU Willys w/1200mi on it. It wanders slightly on the freeway. It must not be as bad as other JL owners have reported as it doesn't really bother me and I have got used to it. Probably on my first oil change though I'll bring up the TSB to the service manager and see where that gets me.
 

Cyclrder

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You can’t make a fair assessment until you have driven a JL with the new steel steering box and updated software. It has made a big difference in the way these cars drive... that whole “it’s a Jeep thing” on handling is bull crap.
 
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