The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is pitch-perfect: First Look

Jeep could've really screwed it up. The 2018 Wrangler could've been a pastiche of its iconic predecessors: all style for the mall parking lot, but none of the off-road ability some owners still demand. Happily, our first real-life glimpse of the 2018 Wrangler suggests Jeep has done just fine.

From the outside, there's no mistaking it for anything else. The keystone-shaped grille is flanked by round headlamps, while the windshield is fold-down, just like it should be. The rear gets the squared-off tail lamps that tell you you're following a Wrangler.

Jeep has plenty of options out of the gate. There are apparently dozens of different combinations of door, top, and windshield, in fact, including a new Sky OneTouch powertop for easier opening. Two regular hardtops and a soft top are also on offer.

Of course, style is just part of the equation: the Wrangler has to be able to go off-road, too. For the 2018 model year there are two engine options, starting out with a new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 270 HP and 295 lb-ft of torque. Those wanting more power have the option of a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, with 285 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque, the latter coming in low in the power band.

Come 2019 there'll be a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, something Jeep says has been frequently requested. That'll pack 260 HP and 442 lb-ft of torque. Two transmissions are on the table: a new eight-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual.

Maybe more interesting is the choice of two 4x4 systems. Command-Trac 4x4 has a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, combined with a next-generation solid Dana front and rear axles with a 3.45 rear axle ratio.

The Wrangler Rubicon, meanwhile, throws in a Rock-Trac 4x4 system. That has heavy duty Dana 44 front and rear axles with a "4LO" ratio of 4:1. The 4.10 front and rear axle ratio is standard, too, along with Tru-Lok locking differentials. The Rubicon also benefits from improved articulation and total suspension travel versus the outgoing Wrangler, and comes with the manual transmission as standard. Whether you have Command-Trac or Rock-Trac you get full-time torque management, while the Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential is an option.

New for the 2018 Wrangler, however, is the two-speed transfer case. That has full-time four-wheel drive and a new, 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, and is offered on the Wrangler Sahara models. Whichever you get, though, there's up to 30 inches of water fording and up to 3,500 lb of towing capacity.

Importantly, though, there's the technology modern buyers expect too. That includes a new dashboard that blends familiar features like knob-controlled HVAC and volume, together with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The standard infotainment system has a 7-inch touchscreen; an 8.4-inch version is optional. The Wrangler Sport has a 5-inch touchscreen.

Four USB ports – two up front, two in the back – and a 12v accessory outlet are standard. A 115V AC outlet is optional, as is a subwoofer. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, and a backup camera will be options. The interior doesn't just look tough, it's designed to be washable and has drain plugs in the floor.

Jeep will offer the 2018 Wrangler 2-door in Sport, Sport S, and Rubicon. The Wrangler 4-door will be offered in Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon configurations. Pricing will be announced closer to the new Wrangler showing up in dealerships.