I stopped by my local Jeep dealer today to try out the new JL. Been wanting to test drive one ever since the initial reviews came out. For the record, I have only ridden shotgun in a older sport and a 2017 JK Rubicon 2 door.
At first the salesguy brought out the Unlimited soft top, this thing is quite big! I looked around inside and outside, lots of space but wasn’t comfortable taking this out as the first drive of a Wrangler ever, so asked for 2 door. He brought out the hardtop sport. Now this is more like it. It had the e-Torque mild hybrid with the 2.0T, 8 speed auto
Talk about bare-bones! $36K MSRP with crank windows, single zone HVAC, manual seats, manual mirrors, no headliner, no heated seats. Everything Wrangler is so freaking expensive! There was someone else test driving a new Rubicon Unlimited next to me. $56K sticker price. And they had a bro’d up Unlimited Sahara for $63K inside the showroom. Crazy!
But, I love how it looks though. Visibility is great! Size is perfect. So anyway, getting in it I found it actually sits quite tall, or maybe this is normal for this kind of vehicle, I just haven’t driven trucks or 4x4 SUVs. Needs a side step if kids and older folks need to get in. Seats were good but had ancient controls. I immediately noticed that interior material quality especially switchgear is vastly improved. And the general layout is logical and easy to use. Even the base gauges are very good looking. It had a comically small 3-inch base display though, surprised to see it in 2018, reminded me of the Ford base system.
On to the driving, Things I like- great visibility, you can see a lot due to large windows smallish pillars and no real blindspots, and sitting up high. Seats were comfortable. But after sometime it felt like I was sitting TOO high, I am just used to sedans and the occasional crossover with a normal ride height. The 2 door is very maneuverable, small turning radius and easy to park. Also, the ride was definitely improved but then again I am comparing to a Rubicon JK with super knobby tires. Engine has strong midrange and pulls strongly past 2000 RPM. Not a slow vehicle. 270Hp 295 Lb/ft is good. 8 speed was mostly unobtrusive.
Things I did not like. WTF is with that Steering? SO vague and artificial. Easily one of the worst ones. Also, high center of gravity but I understand this is a wrangler. The Highway really brings out the faults in this vehicle- SO much wind noise, and at certain speeds there is this irritating buffeting like when you open just the rear windows in a car. Nearly gave me a headache. Tires were quiet though given this is the Sport model. It did not wander at freeway speeds.
So, in conclusion. I understand the appeal of Wranglers. It has an undeniable cool factor to it. It’s a fun weekend and/or second vehicle but no daily driver IMO. This is not for me, sorry Joop fans of Oppo, guess I’m not a Jeep guy. I really applaud those who out up with all the faults (Or quirks if you may call them) to go offload or drive with the roof and doors off or be unstoppable in winter. “It’s a jeep thing” after all.