Jeep JL Wrangler: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Finalist

JAY

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Motor Trend has announced its SUV of the Year finalists and it comes as no surprise that the Jeep JL Wrangler makes the list of final contenders.


JEEP WRANGLER: 2019 MOTOR TREND SUV OF THE YEAR FINALIST

In a Class of One

WE LIKE Drives better, rides better, easier to take apart

WE DON'T LIKE Soggy V-6 torque, loud interior

"With the roof open and the wind in your hair, early Beatles playing on the radio, it takes you back to that golden childhood you never really had," Kim Reynolds said, stepping out of the Jeep Wrangler Sahara. "It's a bit like driving a classic car."

The Wrangler generated a lot of philosophical thought among the judges. After all, how do you judge a vehicle that's nothing like anything else on the market—an actual SUV in the purest (purist's) sense?

"Icon is a much-abused term, but it's difficult to describe the Jeep Wrangler any other way," Angus MacKenzie said. "This is an SUV whose style is substance; the Wrangler looks the way it does because of what it does. The advancement in design is in the minutiae, the tiny details that make it more useable, more capable."

Same goes for engineering excellence, which manifests in features like the detachable anti-roll bar on the Rubicon model or the removable side panels on the Sahara. "The genius of this Jeep is that it can be configured to suit the off-roading ambitions of neophyte and expert alike and deliver an experience that will reward them both," MacKenzie said.

Even icons aren't perfect, though. We found the V-6 engine coarse and underwhelming, particularly when paired with the long-geared manual transmission. Both the hardtop and softtop models couldn't keep out road noise. And your friends will hate the Wrangler's pinched second-row ingress and egress.

Mark Rechtin captured the dichotomy: "This is the ultimate retro-modern vehicle. No other legendary car does this, not the 911, not even the Mustang. The Wrangler retains all the original crudeness, noise, and ruggedness—just with updated technology and so much more capability and function and ease of use."

2018-Jeep-Wrangler-Rubicon-4x4-front-three-quarter-in-motion.jpg





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Neanderthalman

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the removable side panels on the Sahara
This is a baffling statement. What panels? Are they referring to the power top's removable windows? And that's not just on the Sahara.
 

Litfuse

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Man, do they have it right about the motor and gearing.
 

hutchman

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I really like the way the V6 drives with a manual.....the old 4L and manual are not in the same zip code.

So I guss it depends on your point of reference.
 

Jeepcity

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You must never off road then, because the lack of low end torq between idle and 2000 is embarrassing .
 

Jeepcity

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You have no frigging idea what I do or don't do.

No i dont , it was an educated guess, you did not mention your past experience on 4+ trails .
 

Litfuse

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I really like the way the V6 drives with a manual.....the old 4L and manual are not in the same zip code.

So I guss it depends on your point of reference.
I just drove a 4.0L manual with 3.73 gears last week. You’re right, there not in the same zip code. The 4.0l is so much better. Instantaneous throttle response and torque. Everything you want when driving around town or heading down the trail. Yeah, not the best on the highway, but neither is the 3.6. You barely can use 5th or 6th gear in the darn thing.
 

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I just drove a 4.0L manual with 3.73 gears last week. You’re right, there not in the same zip code. The 4.0l is so much better. Instantaneous throttle response and torque. Everything you want when driving around town or heading down the trail. Yeah, not the best on the highway, but neither is the 3.6. You barely can use 5th or 6th gear in the darn thing.
I have a manual JL Rubicon; I couldn’t be happier. I easily drive in 5th down to 40 mph and 6th at 45; maybe it’s the Rubicon’s 4:10 gearing. Maybe the Motor Trend reviewers took out a base model Sport. IMO this is the best Jeep Wrangler by far.

Also the throttle response isn’t any slower than instantaneous on my Wrangler. I owned a 2012 that had to be equipped with a Sprint Booster because of the dreadful throttle response; the 2018 is light years ahead of the old JK.
 

ormandj

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I just drove a 4.0L manual with 3.73 gears last week. You’re right, there not in the same zip code. The 4.0l is so much better. Instantaneous throttle response and torque. Everything you want when driving around town or heading down the trail. Yeah, not the best on the highway, but neither is the 3.6. You barely can use 5th or 6th gear in the darn thing.
That's funny, because a dyno plot of the 4.0 and a dyno plot of the 3.6 show the same torque numbers down low (I could only find plots down to 1200 rpm, not sure under that), with the 3.6 (obviously) having more torque once you crest 1600rpm or so, and significantly more so the higher you go. Sure, different dynos, different gears, different tires, but the general theme is they are very close until you cross 1600, then the 3.6 takes off. Don't even get me started on the 2.0 torque curve.

I've got a feeling of nostalgia for the 4.0, and 'feel' is definitely subjective, but objectively both of the newer engines are significantly superior in performance to the old 4.0, just about anywhere on the RPM range you'd actually drive them. Add in the 6/8 gears and it's not even the same game being played.
 

Litfuse

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I have a manual JL Rubicon; I couldn’t be happier. I easily drive in 5th down to 40 mph and 6th at 45; maybe it’s the Rubicon’s 4:10 gearing. Maybe the Motor Trend reviewers took out a base model Sport. IMO this is the best Jeep Wrangler by far.

Also the throttle response isn’t any slower than instantaneous on my Wrangler. I owned a 2012 that had to be equipped with a Sprint Booster because of the dreadful throttle response; the 2018 is light years ahead of the old JK.
I do agree the throttle response is better on the JL than the JK. I too have a JLR and I have no idea how you are driving 40mph in 5th gear or 45 in 6th. You are either coasting on flat ground or a declining grade. If you try to even slightly accelerate at the mph in those gears, you can feel the hesitation in the motor and the gaps in the oem tune.
 

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I do agree the throttle response is better on the JL than the JK. I too have a JLR and I have no idea how you are driving 40mph in 5th gear or 45 in 6th. You are either coasting on flat ground or a declining grade. If you try to even slightly accelerate at the mph in those gears, you can feel the hesitation in the motor and the gaps in the oem tune.
I agree with what @Rubi stated in regards to speed at 40 mph in 5th and 45 mph in 6th. If you are driving a steady speed on relatively flat ground its not an issue. If however you want or need to accelerate you simply down shift. It's a manual transmission which means you manually have to shift when needed. My biggest issue is the shortness of 1st gear, if I'm on a slight decline i will often skip 1st and start off in 2nd.
 

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I feel grumpy.
'SUV' comparisons, complaining about shifting, noise and pinched ingress/egress? How many SUV's on the market come in a 2 door, manual with a removable roof and doors.
Would they complain it's difficult to get in the rear seat of a Mustang or Camaro...no, because it's a 2 door. Golly gee-whiz.
If I had any friends, I'm sure they would have no issue getting in/out of the rear seat of my 4 door wrangler.

They're finding faults that people buying these typically don't care about.

If SUV is the category and you feel the need to compare the Wrangler to the market, don't use the 2 door manual as your tester when 99.9% (I'm spitballing) of the market you're comparing it with are 4 door automatics with fixed doors and panoramic sunroofs.
 

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