After many years, Jeep has finally completely realized that the Wrangler should really become everything for everyone and is now exploring every possible niche. After adding a 4-door variant during the previous JK-series era and finding huge success with that version accounting for some 75% of the sales mix, with the new JL-series they kept the 2-door and 4-door, but also introduced the Gladiator pickup variant on a separate assembly line as well as expanding the engine selections from just the Pentastar 3.6liter V6 in the outgoing series to offering an optional 2.0liter turbo four-cylinder and now finally the TurboDiesel 3.0 V6 built by VM Motori. Due to scheduling issues, I had a somewhat shorter than normal timeframe to familiarize myself with this interesting variant of the Wrangler, but made the most of it and was able to check out some of the other newer features as well and can still effectively report on my major findings.
The loyal reader will know that we ourselves own a 2015 2-door JK Sport S version with which I became quite smitten but have since handed down to my daughter. I’ve had brief time in all of the new JL versions with both gasoline engines and all the body configurations but this was the first time I had driven the Diesel as well as having any amount of time of any significance with this generation.
First impressions of the basic vehicle didn’t fail to impress (neither did further impressions for that matter). Obviously the look is evolutionary and clearly linked all the way back to the original WWII versions, there are many detail differences between the 2007-2018 JK versions and this one, with the most significant overall improvements being in the cabin.
While the old one is generally described as “plasticky” and it’s debatable as to whether or not that’s actually a negative for a vehicle such as this, the current one, especially in the more loaded trims, really does border on luxurious, especially for a Jeep, to wit there is virtually no hard plastic anywhere, everything seems to have some amount of give, textures are attractive, and the fit and finish is excellent.
The colored dash panel is very nice to look at (in this case a metallic scarlet hue), and the buttons, dials, and switches are satisfying to use and give off a quality feel. There are a lot of them too, so the cockpit can take some familiarization.
Visibility is, as expected in such a tall and square vehicle, excellent. Along with high-mounted gauges and a comfortable steering wheel angle, moving around in traffic is a non-issue and figuring out where the ends of the vehicle are is a cinch. Note that the above perspective is lower than normal for me, this might be an accurate view if one were a ten-year-old. For most people large swathes of the hood will be visible at all times.
The center of the instrument cluster is a large color display that can be configured to show about ten different screens each containing vast amounts of information, and when switching between screens, some of the information is duplicated in a different format so it’s easy to select and stay on a given screen and still not give up on some other pertinent information.
While many Jeep owners take their vehicles off-road, just as many (if not more) leave them dedicated to on-road pursuits. I don’t think it’s a stretch that someone could actually now reasonably choose between this and something like a Land Rover (any Land Rover), as the Jeep has become highly fashionable, is very useful, not at all bad around town, filled with creature comforts, and, if resale value is any consideration whatsoever, then it stands mighty tall against that competitor which frankly it has not had the chops in refinement as opposed to capability to do so until now.
That isn’t to mean that all of a sudden I am going to fall into the ways of the typical reviewer that at first glance of the new product falls all over themselves to suddenly explain how terrible the old one was after years of lavishing praise upon it (see many reviews of any new Jeep Wrangler generation as well as Corvette reviews – both seemingly are always deemed great until the new one comes out, then magically the old one is deemed a creaky tub of unworthy junk). However there are genuine advancements made here while still retaining everything that made the old one great.
Of course the biggest change now is the addition of a new 3.0 V6 turbodiesel “Eco-Diesel” engine to the engine options. While not a cheap option at $4,000 (gulp!), it does provide multiple benefits. First amongst them is massive power. Rated at 260hp but more importantly 442lb-ft of torque, this engine improves on the other ones in several ways. The biggest advantage is that while the 3.6 and 2.0T gassers pull well, especially the PentaStar starts to get a bit overmatched at higher highway speeds.
I was able to drive this Jeep for about 200 miles, about half of my usual average mileage, of which about 75 were on the freeway and another 75 on normal highways with the balance around town. My biggest takeaway was that at 75mph, if you floor it, it just gets up and goes (the gas V6 will go faster as well but lets you know it’s not loving it). The pulling power in the midrange is simply phenomenal for something so brick shaped that when you let off the gas it slows down extremely fast just due to wind resistance. But once that turbo spools, it’s party time.
Gas mileage is another age-old Wrangler bugaboo that has been addressed by this option. While my overall average was just under 24mpg (indicated), with our own Jeep (smaller, lighter, PentaStar powered) we struggle to break 17mpg in any mix of driving. I was able to do some experimenting with this one though – my first day with it was just around town and it showed 23mpg which is impressive (comparatively; come on, it’s not a Prius).
On the second day on the freeway at 75-80mph it was showing 25mpg, however if I slowed down to 65-70 it would go up to about 30mpg and a further reduction in speed to 55-60 got it up another 5mpg to 35mpg and higher at steady throttle. Some of the credit obviously goes to the 8speed transmission as opposed to the sturdy old 5speed but any way you slice it, it’s a huge improvement.
Alas, there are downsides too, while the gas mileage is increased, range is affected by a reduction in the fuel tank size by about 3 gallons to 18.5 to make room for the urea tank. Still, range should be in the 500 mile range which is excellent for those who hate going to gas stations. Noise to some may be another negative but perhaps not, nobody is really buying a Wrangler for isolation chamber purposes.
I was actually a little surprised at how much diesel noise it made at idle and part throttle, quite a bit louder than the VW Touareg TDI (also a 3.0l V6) I used to own. I reached out to our other contributor MagnumSRT8Brian and by comparing notes it appears that the Jeep is louder than his RAM 1500 Diesel with basically the same engine was but quieter than the larger diesels used in both Fords as well as older and larger RAMs equipped with the legendary Cummins units. It is louder than the current range of RAM Heavy Duty Diesels in my estimation which are phenomenally quiet in most situations, both inside and outside the cabin
After some thought though, the Jeep’s engine noise may all well be by design, I believe someone has to want the Diesel specifically to purchase it, and the demographic for the Jeep may well be people that would like to enjoy the noise and/or would like others to be somewhat aware they have the Diesel, for better or worse. Nothing wrong with that, and at speed there is enough other noise to eliminate it as an irritation if it is that for anyone. Besides the audible cues, the only other denotation regarding the Diesel on the Wrangler is a small sticker affixed to the rear corner.
The UConnect 8.4 audio system had plenty of power to override the engine as well as wind noise at freeway speeds, while never as quiet as a “normal” vehicle, that’s simply part of the package, in any case it’s all significantly better than way older Jeeps and about the same with a soft roof on this one versus the hardtop on our own older JK version, so a net improvement there as well. That same UConnect system also displays the backup camera in a remarkably clear and sharp display, the Wrangler really benefits from this technology as the tailgate-mounted spare tire gets in the way of seeing what’s behind it. As with virtually all variants of UConnect, it’s simple and intuitive to use, pairing my phone was easy and the BlueTooth phone audio was quick, clear, and crisp even at highway speeds (with the top closed).
When the “Unlimited” version was first introduced, it opened the Wrangler up to a whole new demographic, i.e. families. Finally, a usable backseat with acceptable space, and easy ingress/egress via actual doors.
This new version only improves on that, with a more comfortable seat and plenty of legroom for a perhaps slightly larger than average adult (me). The knees are not touching the seatback and there is plenty of headroom even with the top up with the front seat adjusted for myself (6′ 1″, 32″ inseam for reference). With the top down/open, well, headroom becomes Unlimited as well…USB ports and other power ports are also included for back seat passengers.
Cargo space is ample, with such a square shape, even with rollbars intruding a bit, almost anything can fit.
Should more room be desired, the seats easily flop forward with the headrests moving out of the way automatically as well. And voila! Oodles of space transform into something even more oodlicious.
Besides that new engine, the other big party piece this particular Jeep featured is the available “Sky One-Touch Power Top”. Priced at just a fiver under another $4,000 at first I was a bit skeptical of the value here. While nominally the Jeep comes with a soft top, a hard top is already an option, a body-colored painted hard top costs even more, so by the time you’re up to that perhaps the power top looks more reasonable.
One button allows the entire top panel to accordion fold towards the back and another quick press closes it again. The rear-most side windows are actually removable (and can be stowed in an included padded bag), do so and remove the doors and it’s as al fresco as you’d likely want to be with an easy option to stay dry from at least overhead if it turns nasty out.
I didn’t think I’d like it that much but found myself using it much more than I usually use a sunroof or the removable “Freedom Top” roof panels on our own Wrangler, it’s just so easy to use and wind buffeting is not significant, at least not around town.
For longer distances, no Wrangler is ever really at home on the freeway – the large tires, fairly loose steering requiring attention and course corrections, and the poor aerodynamics ensure that, but to complain about those things is to lose sight of the Jeep’s whole reason for being, that being to go off-road where most of that is a positive.
Basically unmatched offroad, especially in higher trims such as this Rubicon model, features include locking differentials, electrically decouple-able swaybars via a dash mounted button for greater wheel articulation, low range 4WD, and standard LT285/70-17 BF Goodrich KO2 tires assure that for most people this package is far more vehicle than they are capable of taking full advantage of in such situations.
For most people the most basic Wrangler likely is already more than they can make full use of for that matter until they acquire enough skill and experience in the wild to truly get away from it all. No matter, Jeep is happy to sell vehicles that are over-equipped to those willing and able to shell out the money, in more recent years they’ve been capacity constrained more than anything. If nothing else, generally the resale value is stellar on any Wrangler so whether used on the road or the trail, if taken care of, much of its value can be recouped down the road at trade-in time.
Since we are talking about money let’s break that down a bit more. A 4-door (Unlimited in Jeep parlance) Rubicon level Wrangler starts at $41,795. That gets you most of the essential goodies but you know there’s lots of option boxes to check for the willing. Let’s follow along with the Monroney sticker for this test car to see what a Jeep equipped with a plethora of popular options might cost, of course not all of these are necessary or will appeal to everyone.
Leather all over the place along with upgraded door panels runs $1,495, Heated seats and steering wheel are $995, Trailering package with HD electricals is $795, LED lighting in every location is $1,045, the 8.4inch infotainment with Nav and WiFi HotSpot is $1,695, BlindSpot and parking sensors are $895, Adaptive Cruise Control with BrakeAssist and Full Speed Forward Collision Warning is $795.
The (to my eyes) gorgeous Steel Bumpers with removable end sections as opposed to plastic items are $1,395, the 8-speed automatic is a further forced $2,000 on top of the $4,000 diesel engine option that also includes switching the standard 4.10 rear end to a 3.73 ratio, Remote keyless entry (i.e. just touch the door handle to open and lock along with a starter button) is $495, body color fender flares are another $495, and the aforementioned power top is $3,995. Oh, the black and machined lip 17″ wheels are $995 as opposed to the standard wheels in the same size and then the destination charge is $1,495 for a grand total of this particular one of $64,380.
Yes, I know some will be choking on that and thinking I am mistakenly looking at a Canadian sticker, but not so, this is the US one, however they usually load these things up for us so we can check out the various options although no doubt some will be equipped like this one on the dealer’s floor. If you can handle a stick shift gas V6 with a soft top your Rubicon will be virtually as capable either on the Rubicon Trail or the Trail To The Mall for the aforementioned $41,795 starting price. Or be selective and make some hard choices. (The absolute least expensive Wrangler lists for $28,295 for reference, being a 2-door Sport, V6, manual, soft top, no AC, manual locks and windows but still 4WD)
Note what wasn’t part of the options but rather standard – With the base Rubicon you still get the same Dana axles, offroad goodies, 4WD system, flippable windshield, removable doors, a removable soft roof and your choice of about ten colors, of which about half are actual colors. Or move down a notch to one of various non-Rubicon trims, save a bunch of money and you still get much of the offroad capability and the majority of the “look” if that’s what’s important, and let’s be real, it IS important to many people, that’s what manufacturers are selling and new car buyers are buying.
Only four of the colors cost a paltry $245 extra, this one is painted “Sting-Gray” at no extra charge. I’m of the firm belief that no Jeep Wrangler should be boring black, white, or silver, the whole point is to have fun but to each their own, this particular shade is actually pretty good and the minor red accents do a lot to liven it up without being obnoxious in any way. But if you happen to own one in black, white, or silver, that’s okay, it was your money and we can still be friends, I’ll still wave at you and you’d better at least look like you’re trying to wave back. However, if it were mine it’d be Yellow (or “HellaYella” actually), which is finally back on the list.
One of the best parts of the Jeep Wrangler experience is simply the almost endless factory options, there are about ten different top options alone. Three engines, several transmissions, lots of colors, a zillion other options and accessories and that’s before we even talk aftermarket where there are no limits.
Many Jeeps are custom ordered, dealers are usually more than happy to accommodate them (and discount on custom orders as I found) and they are all still built in Toledo, Ohio. This particular one’s sticker showed that 58% of the content is US/Canadian with the engine from Italy (VM Motori) and the 8-speed from Germany (ZF).
Elephants in the room? Well, let’s be honest, Diesel has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the last few years, certainly in the smaller formats, but there seem to still be plenty of folks willing to give them a shot in recently introduced lighter pickups and now Wranglers, presumably the Gladiator will soon offer it as well.
Jeep has had the VM Motori option before (in the Liberty and Grand Cherokee over here) and while some including one of our own have documented a poor experience with a VM Motori 3.0 V6 Diesel in a recent RAM 1500 it seems to have been an ancillary component that was the main issue in our contributor’s case and FCA did seem to make it right for him.
The other and more recent issue is a well publicized crash test by IIHS that showed the Wrangler actually flipping over onto its side in the small overlap crash test, a first. The prior version merely glanced off the barrier with relatively minor damage. Clearly this current result was wholly unexpected and has sent engineers back to the drawing board to make changes.
I have no idea if a very tiny difference in the actual amount of overlap of this test is what was the determining factor resulting in the rollover and if it was an inch different either way would have made a difference but the result stands for now and is a possible consideration if that exact accident scenario was recreated in real life.
I enjoyed my time with this Diesel Wrangler and believe it’s likely a very good move to offer it. It adds yet another option to the already huge palette on offer and more choice is always a good thing, the increased gas mileage likely is a positive for the marque and probably one of the main reasons why there has not yet been a factory Hemi V8 option, that probably being the other single most requested future option that I see when I investigate the Wrangler-specific forums.
In the review of my own Jeep that was linked near the top I had indicated that they’ve come a long way in the last two decades as regards drivability and everyday usability and this newest generation only builds on that even more. They have huge personalities, are simply fun, and there’s one for almost everyone.
Full Disclosure: Thanks to Jeep and FCA for giving us the opportunity to check out this Jeep along with a full tank of fuel.
Great review – as someone whose last experience with a Jeep was a CJ7 back in the late ’70s and mid-’80s, the move upmarket in these past few generations is remarkable. Your comments on the switchgear is a good example – on the CJ’s I rode in back in the day, most of the knobs would come off in your hand.
It seems once again history will repeat itself and Jeep will become the profit center and cash cow for the parent company that purchased it. Jim.
Now you’ve got me wanting to climb rocks or go down a rain soaked trail through the woods.
Given the abundance of torque from this diesel, I can envision it being quite popular with some of the more hardcore off-road set. It would have so many positive attributes for off-roading it’ll be interesting to see what the take rate will be.
If I were to ever get a Jeep Wrangler it would likely be toward the bottom of the pecking order. However, it’s good to see FCA has expanded the range considerably.
My sister bought an early JL Rubicon. Although I had driven her previous JK Rubicon, I have not driven this one yet.
Both of hers have been stick shifts. I suspect that she might have given strong consideration to a diesel had one been available, as she has owned a number of diesels through the years, including one of the VM Motori Libertys.
What you say about dealers being accommodating is true. She wanted leather but simply despised the red trim on the dash and the red stitching everywhere. A car with cloth came with a tan/gray dash panel and the dealer arranged for install of a custom leather interior with her choice of color/stitching. I was kind of surprised that they would be so accommodating on a hot new model like that.
The diesel thing kind of mystifies me at this point. I had suspected that the number of “normal” people willing to put up with the issues of a diesel had dwindled to near zero in the US. But perhaps the combination of a big enough niche here and a bigger one in other markets may have made the effort worthwhile.
“A car with cloth came with a tan/gray dash panel and the dealer arranged for install of a custom leather interior with her choice of color/stitching. I was kind of surprised that they would be so accommodating on a hot new model like that.”
Why would you be surprised? They just call up the vendor they use and say put leather in it, mark it up and make more profit.
Yup. As a former member of the DoD acquisition workforce I can tell you that anything can be done if you write a big enough check.
Good review, and while I’ve never been a Jeep owner, I’ve been tempted a few times and the 3.0 diesel has a lot of appeal if there weren’t so many horror stories.
It’s funny you mention the Corvette as an example of a car whose prior gen shortcomings are always exaggerated in reviews of the new ones. I think the best example is the Porsche 911. Over at least 50 years, reviews of new versions always seemed to say something like this:
“Thanks to the (longer wheelbase, revised suspension geometry, wider rear tires, altered roll stiffness, AWD, stability control, etc) the 911’s propensity for trailing throttle oversteer has been eliminated”. Until the next revision.
Ha, you are correct, if only they’d just add the words “a little more” to the end every time we couldn’t complain.
Good vehicle for getting around the flight deck of a carrier. Can handle those hills and curves. Was an interesting day with various Jeeps past and present. I liked the past.
For $60,000 I’ll take a Corvette. The Corvette is an excellent value in my opinion. As for the Jeep off roading experience, when I worked at Chrysler I’d say 80% never saw gravel.
We loved it when a Jeep came in. It was a sure $1000 bill and Jeep owners will throw all the money are them I ever asked.
Please understand this is my opinion. Other people with much deeper pockets than m3 love them.
When I lived on Hawaii island, aka The Big Island, I had a CJ-7. There are places you are not allowed to go without a dedicated 4×4, not AWD, with low range. If I lived there today, which is in the plan, the short list would be the base 2-door Wrangler, in no-extra-cost red and A/C. The other choice would be a base Tacoma 4×4 for similar money. The taco has A/C standard, but, unfortunately a manual transmission is no longer offered.
“The loyal reader will know that we ourselves own a 2015 2-door JK Sport S version with which I became quite smitten but have since handed down to my daughter.”
Will you adopt me? Please??
Interesting and comprehensive JK review, as always. I mean the writer, not the Wrangler gen.
Until I read this article, I didn’t know that the latest Wrangler got the V6 diesel. The previous generation had a 2.8 liter inline-4, also a VM Motori. Nothing wrong with a big 4-cylinder turbodiesel in a utilitarian type of vehicle, of course. The Japanese have been doing so for many years, up to a 3.2 liter in the Mitsubishi Pajero.
Not that long ago I was filling up my daily driver (with a 3.0 liter inline-4 turbodiesel, BTW) at the gas station, when an all black and fairly new Maserati Ghibli stopped at the pump next to me. The driver filled up his ride with diesel too…yes, the Maser is also available with the same 3.0 V6 VM Motori diesel as used in Jeeps and the RAM 1500.
As a backpacker, I will not dispense my personal views about “off roading.” Notably, in my immediate area, the wrongler appears to be the most commonly purchased new vehicle. I may be cynical, but I believe that most, if not all, are purchased for image enhancement
You will change your mind, when you’re going to be able and willing to spend more money on pleasure and fun! Just be patient!🤓
A generous prediction, but I have been in over 70 countries and spend nearly two months a year away from home.
Great write up Jim. It’s a beautiful Jeep, I actually love that color accented by the Rubicon decals.
Even though I had the issues I did with mine, this is the upgraded version of the EcoDiesel V6. I think that Jeep actually has a real winner on their hands with this, more power and way more torque for off roading and great range.
But some people will look at the initial cost, and the cost of diesel, and probably pass. Only on the coasts does the cost of diesel come close to that of gasoline, but inland it’s way different. When we first bought our E350 Bluetec diesel was on par with premium in San Diego. In Arizona and New Mexico (our first big road trip) it was at least $1.50 per gallon more than premium. That’s a big cost factor and that’s when getting the diesel doesn’t make sense.
It is a good color, deep and rich. Out here Diesel usually costs more than regular but often about the same as Super (or sometimes less) but currently regular is going for around $1.75 and Costco this morning was at $1.50 (which can all change of course). Pencilling it out vs a regular V6 it may make sense from a fuel/mileave cost viewpoint but the upfront upgrade cost is a big nut and likely won’t be chosen by the average buyer (just like in pickups). It’ll be interesting to see what happens on the resale market, i.e. does the premium remain.
You’re killing me. At Torrance Costco regular is 2.30 and diesel is 2.90. Kona Costco diesel is only ten cents higher, but regular is 2.55.
I’ll make it worse, I’ve never seen a line of cars at my Costco. I once posted a post with a pic of all the pumps filled with white cars but I don’t think anyone waiting in line, that’s normal here. 😀
I love that unusual color. It reminded me of a shade on a color chart of long ago, and has started me on an idea for a new post. So thanks for that – look for a picture of this Jeep some time in the future.
Love that shot with the old Willys wagon. And realistically, the Wrangler is now a full-fledged SUV-wagon than the little Jeep it once was.
Not surprised about the power of the diesel compared to the Pentastar. That’s the big advantage of forced induction: a big fat torque bulge right where one most needs it. The Pentastar in my van is really not a “truck” engine, since in order to make the hp it does, it needs to rev. So lots of downshifts at speed, unless one really babys it.
I’d love to have a diesel and manual transmission in mine, like they do in Europe, but I’ve just learned to live with it.
Three things came to mind:
1. Excellent review, as usual.
2. The option list?? I thought you were reviewing a Porsche. Bumpers, $1,300, Remote entry, $500, fender flairs, $500…what about the Chrono Package?
3. I get that you are a Jeep fan, but a little more objectivity would be nice…elephants in the room, apparently not!
Still love your reviews!
Thank you. It’s not like it doesn’t come with bumpers and fender flares, just if you want the optional steel ones or painted flares, that’s extra and probably not for everyone, I apologize if you got the impression it came without any as stock. You can also get a regular key if you so desire. A Jeep is one of the few vehicles left where you really can get it how you want it instead of choosing one of three trim levels and a preferred shade of gray. I don’t think I’m lacking any objectivity there especially as I was clear that the basic Rubicon package is still available for a lot less and even tried to explain that a much more rudimentary version is available as well but still has most of the off-road chops. Do I think $64k is a good value for a Jeep? No, not really for me personally but if people are willing and able to spec theirs out at a high level then good for them, who cares if they go canyoning or mall shopping with it, not my place to judge, nor my intent.
Great review and my sentiments exactly. I ordered my sting gray Unlimited Rubicon Ecodiesel in December and it arrived March 23. It’s only clocked a bit over 600 miles but I’ve only made 2 fuel stops. I love driving it and I love the diesel sound, which is really only noticeable with windows and/or top down. I do need to get some side steps though before I wear out the seat cushion bolster!
Hey nice rig! Those are the standard wheels but the steel bumpers I see. Which top option is that? Looks like the test Jeep’s but manual cloth cover on top, you just unclip and throw it back?
Ground clearance comes in very handy when completing a photo shoot featuring Bison, and you just want to climb in your Jeep and head home. 🙂
(Excellent review and photos! Images are very nice.)
Haha, that’s awesome, thank you!
Daniel, that’s terrific!
Thanks for a thorough review and writeup of an iconic vehicle. I sometimes dream about owning a Wrangler, but the Grand Cherokee comes across as more refined and more than enough vehicle for me.
It seems that whenever we buy a new car, we distantly consider a Wrangler — it has just so many advantages and selling points. But on the other hand, it falls just short of what we need in a lot of other categories, so we’ve never gotten close to actually buying one. But, they sure are alluring.
I admit, though, that I’m one of those who choked on the sticker price. My goodness, and I thought the $41,795 base Rubicon price was high! I never would have guessed this was a $60,000 vehicle. I’d make mine a much lower-trim level, and $4,000 for the diesel option is mighty hard to justify.
Oh, and I’m glad your reviews are continuing to cycle through the large mammals of Colorado!
A lot of fun can be had with a non-Rubicon Jeep, perhaps even more if you aren’t REALLY off-road, it’s lighter, obviously less expensive, cheap replacement parts if damaged are more plentiful, and it can always be made “better”. I didn’t think I’d be a big fan when we got ours based on some very old experiences I had decades ago. I was wrong but will be the first to admit it’s not for everyone.
The prices have gone up for the JL series relative to the JK. I suppose if they are selling all they can make and running out of room on the production line, then they should charge what people are willing to pay. That said, the interior is improved over the older one, although not all would agree that it necessarily needed the improvement. The Wrangler became a lot more mainstream during the last generation’s 12yr run, and therefore it was time to add a lot of the little conveniences and perhaps class the joint up a little which they certainly accomplished.
These Bison were actually a little north of me in Wyoming this time! I first spotted them there a couple of months ago and hoped they’d be out for me this time.
Interesting point about acceleration over 75 mph. I have a 15 JK and while I love it I do not love it over 70 mph frankly.
No rubicons for me, there is nowhere near me to off-road. To me what makes the jeep is top and doors off driving.
It is such a good-looking machine, one of those designs that could sell well on appearances alone. The only minor carbuncle is the area of the silly vent behind the front wheelarch, which could be mistaken for a dent.
Ofcourse, FCA should be banned from selling it.
It is insulting to the idea of being a good corporate citizen – no different in effect and conscience to being a decent human being – that a mass-market family-bought vehicle could be released in 2019 with a one-star crash rating.
I’m not talking about the lack of warning beepers for driving out of your lane or brakes that allow you to text with impunity and not rear-end another. This thing scores badly in basic adult structural protection: in the frontal-offset test, it scores a hideous 3.8 out of 8. In full-width, 5.7 out of 8. A disgrace, and wholly avoidable.
As mentioned, it fell over in the small-overlap at just 40 mph. What wasn’t mentioned that FCA naturally blamed the testers, and insisted it be done again to their specs: it fell over again. Well worth noting too that because the car didn’t absorb much force, it slid along the entire length of the test lab post-crash. Imagine another lane there, or a drop-off. A rollover prang is much more dangerous than any other. And a pity the kids in the rear won’t have their heads protected by curtain or side bags, huh.
The FCA PR response to the both the low star rating and the tip-over is the sort of perfumed corporate fixed-grin fuck-you that makes my kin crawl. Amongst other things, they actually had the gall to say – when the toxic sugar-words are removed – that we’re selling heaps of them, so it must be fine. Bet the makers of 245T said that.
The makers of cigarettes actually did.
What a pack of bastards.
I shan’t defend the roll-over aspect as that is indefensible and extremely surprising beyond apparently being wholly unexpected both based on what FCA had seen in their own testing as well as what the IIHS expected. Note that the prior generation did not roll over in the exact same test, making this more unexpected/surprising
First off the IIHS test is NOT a government test which you may be aware of but many are not and as such has no bearing on what is acceptable for sale from a legal perspective, it has equal or greater weight from a realistic publicity perspective. It is run by an insurance association and does carry great weight with the public. The Jeep did score acceptably well on the US NHTSA tests but increasingly the public is more concerned with IIHS as it has greater publicity and greater range of testing. This is a failing of our government and the NHTSA in my opinion as the IIHS tests are carried out to an extremely high standard and with constant new testing innovations, what the gov’t should be doing. Being that it is run by the insurance industry, the result will be factored into the insurance rates.
In regard to the IIHS tests the Jeep did score well enough to earn a “Good” rating in other categories of testing (frontal, side etc). The rolling onto its side in the small overlap doomed it to Marginal for that test due to that, but the impact protection was deemed to be acceptable (until the rollover event, the fact it rolled over is what dropped it down, not necessarily the result of the rollover, there’s a distinction made there).
I am not wholly familiar with other testing regimens such as perhaps the one you are referencing (is that the Australian or a European one?). Presumably the governmental authorities would (or should) ban the sale if the vehicle ran afoul of those standards.
The Jeep is also one of the (or an absolute the) only vehicles sold with an internal roll bar structure to help prevent collapse of the roof during a roll over.
If I were a manufacturer presented with this result I would also insist it be done over. IIHS apparently did not until they were asked to. Basic scientific principle would demand that it be repeated to be sure there was not an anomaly, that does not seem a far-fetched request or demand. I can’t speak to “PR-speak” on that matter.
I’m virtually certain that there is a whole group of engineers looking at the Wrangler at FCA right now and trying to figure out why and how this occurred and how it can be avoided going forward. As you know the Wrangler is sold in multiple configurations – wheels, body, suspensions differences), perhaps part of that is figuring out if one aspect made it more likely to result this way.
Yes a roll and slide is a bad result, the standard result in this test for most vehicles is an almost abrupt halt and then a violent swing around the vehicle’s axis and halt, i.e. if there was another vehicle in another lane a similar end problem. I believe the prior generation took a similar end path down the lab as this one but upright. I don’t know which result ends up with less forces on the occupants, a sudden stop and strong twist, a glance and upright rolling into the distance or a glance and rollover and slide.
The end result of the roll and slide on the occupants’ bodies was not able to be calculated as the testing parameters were not in place for it as it was unexpected.
What’s your opinion on motorcycles and standard convertibles?
I knew the test wasn’t a requirement, though will admit I only found this out a few years back (I had assumed that,, like the requirement to fit reverse cameras, etc, cars needed to have certain crash features built-in for approval). I couldn’t agree more that it SHOULD be done by government, and go (probably) beyond what you would and add that if, say, 4 stars are not met, there should be no type approval.
The Jeep got one star in the Euro NCAP, upgraded to three after fitting a bit more equipment later. The exact same scores happened in the Australian NCAP testing. Look at the Euro NCAP site for a breakdown (!) of how poorly it did for an occupant in forces/loading in an offset frontal test. The IHS tests don’t break it down like this (that I can find).
I’m not overly concerned with any overall star rating, as (at least) the Aussie scoring system is bizarre. It’s the basic structural stuff and resultant forces on a human that matter here: and here, the design is clearly crap and their attitude is a disgrace. And it is simply negligent to sell what will clearly have a goodly urban-carriage role without rear side airbags, especially if the damn thing rolls in a low speed impact.
Your point about the “sliding on” is well-made. In reality, rather than a polished floor, it would be sliding on dirt/ashphalt with far higher coefficient of friction. But the fact it is on it’s side in the first place is unquestionably more dangerous than being twisted violently sideways (and to be fair, you don’t say it isn’t).
I absolutely do not accept the argument that the consumer chooses. (Hell, even in smoking, they didn’t know that once past that first cigarette – the choice bit – that they were being sold a nicotine delivery system by very sophisticated crooks!) Josephine Average just buys a car fitted with safety stuff and expects it does what’s promised, not NEARLY does. Convertibles now have practically no more risk than a hardtop, so if FCA made a crapheap-crashing soft-top, I’d give all the same opinions just as loudly. As for bikes, they’re a minority choice in developed nations, and the risks need not be stated to even the dimmest purchaser.
When Mercedes A-class fell over, they pulled it from sale, and modified it. When FCA got one star, they kept on merrily selling the car for many months before adding some stuff. And when it fell, they blamed the testers, which backfired with rather satisfying effect, and still now defend the thing as “bought by many” – and they continue to sell the damn things.
Like I said, a pack of bastards.
One could also however make the argument that the vehicle (and many/all others on the market) fulfill and exceed a minimum requirement and anything better than that is a good thing to varying degrees of extra goodness. (and I’ll keep old and used cars out of the discussion for obvious reasons).
Hence if it meets the basic requirement to be sold, then that’s what’s expected of a corporation. Anything the corporation does that exceeds that minimum is good (and will presumably help drive sales at perhaps the expense of some other attribute). And better the more that is done. It’s obvious that this particular well-publicized result is not good for the company and will likely be looked at with an eye to improving. But you don’t slam a different vehicle that scores lower than this one on the side-impact or full-frontal test, for instance.
Taking it another way, I don’t think you can (or would) say that any vehicle that ranks below the highest rated one is absolute crap and should be avoided. So where exactly “should” that cut off be? It’s not really an answerable question, I know, and am not expecting one either but food for thought.
The question goes beyond yes-does/no-doesn’t meet legal requirements, to what a company’s ethical responsibilities are. Consider the Carrollton Bus Disaster of 1988. The bus involved was built 9 days before the effective date of new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that certainly would have greatly reduced or eliminated the hideous carnage resulting from the crash. Ford and Superior Coach knew the regulations were set to come into effect; they’d participated in the regulatory negotiations and had tooled up and begun production of compliant vehicles and parts. Legally, their obligation was to comply with whatever which safety standards were in effect on any given day. Ethically…? That’s a different question; I bet there was a great deal of wishing for time machines so that they could go back and build that bus to the new regulatory requirements, if for no other reason than that it would’ve been vastly less costly than the legal fallout.
More recently we’ve seen the likes of the GM ignition switch debacle, notable not only for the craven carelessness involved, but especially for the eventual finding of not just civil but criminal wrongdoing on the part of an automaker who put out safety-defective cars.
The bit that’s difficult for some parties to admit is that in a system wherein everything else is less important than “shareholder value” (therefore quarterly profits), it is just not realistic to think corporations will do anything beyond the narrowest possible interpretation of the minimal legal requirements, unless they can figure out a way to monetise doing anything more.
Design/Engineering of the Wrangler and Gladiator are tightly constrained by tradition and the loyal customer base. Detachable, soft front fenders and removable doors aren’t conducive to safety, yet both are must-haves for these two models. It’s almost miraculous that they can pass NHTSA, let alone IIHS. Why should their sale be banned? There are plenty of other SUVs/pickup trucks (Jeep’s own Grand Cherokee is one great option) to choose from. People who buy the classic Jeeps know what they are getting. As Mr Klein said, if you ban the Jeeps, then how about motorcycles and ragtop convertibles? The rollover looks bad, but how badly would the occupants be injured in a real crash? The integrity of the passenger space wasn’t compromised.
“Banned” was hyperbole: and even if it wasn’t, there’s no power to do so. Bikes and ragtops I addressed.
Put aside for a moment the rollover (even though ANY rollover has an exponentially increased risk of increased injury or death – watch the neck on the dummy here on the inside shot as it falls, unsupported, towards the passenger). My big complaint is the inadequate structure in the standard 40% offset test, no better than the previous model. It’s unacceptable, and the entire FCA response to the crash test issues shows cold-eyed arrogance.
Jim it appears that the IIHS have only performed the small-overlap themselves, and taken FCA’s results for all others. I’m surprised at that in light of the overseas tests; it is pretty unusual these days for cars to have any sort of structural deformation as displayed by the Jeep. I’d have to say those results have a pretty big question mark against them.
Not exactly. IIHS did a side impact test as well, and NHTSA did a full frontal. FCA did a small as well as moderate front overlap and then IIHS tried to replicate the small overlap themselves. IIHS allows manufacturers to self-certify and uses their results if previous generation(s) performed acceptably until IIHS gets around to testing it themselves and then substitutes their own data. Part of EuroNCAP’s 1-star result was in large part due to the lack of standard automated braking system in the model tested, the original comment conflates that rating with the crash test itself but was expanded upon in his subsequent comment (1star became 3star with no structural change)
Y’might say that.
Peter P was a year or so ahead of me. One fine, sunny day he and his buddies climbed into a softtop Wrangler (or maybe it was a CJ) to head home from school. The driver got in a disagreement with a right-hand curve from one 30-mph road to another. The curve won; the Jeep rolled, and Peter’s brain got scrambled. From then on he was confined to an electric wheelchair and he couldn’t speak any more, though he could kinda squawk and grunt and almost smile.
That was nearly three decades ago, and apparently we are still talking about Wranglers failing to protect occupants, with and without a rollover.
Daniel, that sounds a lot like an anecdote and not data as you unfailingly tend to point out. Does every rollover of a Jeep result in a traumatic brain injury as you are insinuating? Was Peter wearing a seat belt? Was the presumably teen driver driving in a manner conducive to safety? Would a different convertible from three decades ago have protected him better? Did the actual rollover in the current IIHS test result in additional injury? (We don’t know as it wasn’t measured, not having data means one is guessing. Lots of stuff we don’t know both about the current situation or your friend’s.
As far as ethics go, last time I checked you yourself were still selling upgrade parts for Jeep Wranglers and the like.. If there was an ethical problem with the manufacture and sale of these vehicles, I for one would assume that those calling out the manufacturer for a (purely subjective) ethical lapse wouldn’t then try to themselves profit off that vehicle and its owners although I’m guessing you’ll couch it in terms of “improving the safety of the vehicle.” Gimme a break.
This comment thread is now closed. Bringing up accidents that happened decades ago, about which we know none of the details, is irrelevant. How would he have fared if he was riding a motorcycle?
Realistically everyone knows that a Jeep isn’t as safe as a Prius. Which partly explains why these two cars (as an example) attract very different buyers.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Jeeps have gotten significantly safer over the decades. That word didn’t even apply to the CJ. And undoubtedly there’s always still room for improvement.
Let’s leave it at that.
Justy, your praise of this vehicle’s appearance is totally the reason why people buy these things. They really do not care about it’s safety defects because it makes them believe that they are rugged individuals. Yes, they are the same kind of people, whom a generation or two, ago, would have smoked cigarettes.
A generation or two ago, all kinds of people smoked cigarettes. It wasn’t really a rebellious or daredevil thing to do, unless you were a “teen-ager” from the nice side of town.
The fact that I may or may not have been one of them for longer than I may or may not care to recall is, ofcourse, different….
“Noise [from the EcoDiesel] to some may be another negative but perhaps not, nobody is really buying a Wrangler for isolation chamber purposes.”
“For longer distances, no Wrangler is ever really at home on the freeway – the large tires, fairly loose steering requiring attention and course corrections, and the poor aerodynamics ensure that, but to complain about those things is to lose sight of the Jeep’s whole reason for being, that being to go off-road where most of that is a positive.”
To quote Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H: “Is there such thing as a COMFORTABLE Jeep ride?”
Always appreciate your reviews Jim!
I bought a 2019 Renegade Trailhawk in the same color… love it! One thing that really hurts these 4 door Wranglers offroad is how massive they are. They get high centered so easy. That’s why they need such huge lifts and big tires. I recently went off roading in my new Rene with a 4 door JK on 35s and I cleared obstacles the 4 door Wrangler dragged on. The short wheel base helps so much. I wish Jeep would’ve tried to keep the 4 door ones more XK or WK sized. Not to mention, the narrow width of the Renegade helps avoid pin striping off road!
No doubt the new Wranglers are cool… but the Renegade is like an ATV with leather and sunroof off road! It’s of the CJ-3B school….