The Wrangler is a cult vehicle that is defined by a basic design formula.
It’s a body-on-frame 4×4 with front and rear solid axles. It is visually identified by an essentially unchanged exterior design with an open top and modular panels. This 4×4 vehicle is a conceptual descendent to the CJ used in WWII. Since its birth in 1986, the Jeep Wrangler has developed and evolved around the soul of its ancestor, an all-terrain conquering military jeep.
The latest generation, this 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 with Sky One-Touch top continues the Jeep heritage but has been given a series of updates to ensure it can keep up with modern standards. Let’s dive in for a deeper look into the latest generation of Jeep Wranglers.
The 2019 Jeep Wrangler still has the same basic Jeep design since 1986, albeit it is now much bigger with the ability to option it with four doors. It is in the details which the Jeep has changed to modernize its design and functionality. The signature round headlamps are now LED, and the daytime-running-light is a LED ring around the head lamps. The bumpers now have LED fog lamps and LED signals are integrated into the arching fenders. The signature seven-slat grill remains; addition ventilation has been added behind the front fender arches for a more aggressive look.
Modernizing the Jeep did not mean softening the design; the exposed hood latches and door hinges remain to remind us of its roots. Below the front bumper is an exposed skid plate, but unfortunately made of the same plastic as the bumper. The design is a big mash of modern touches evolving a very classic design. The Wrangler maintains a signature look that you cannot mistake to be something else.
Under the hood is where the revolution happens for the new generation of Jeep Wrangler. Traditionally powered by a naturally aspirated V6, Jeep has added the option of a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with eTorque technology. This engine produces 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque. The new engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The most intriguing part of this powertrain is the eTorque system.
This is a mild hybrid system that uses a small electric motor attached to the engine via the main drive belt to provide a torque supplement of 90 lb-ft. at launch, resulting in effortless acceleration in city driving. Overall engine response is very good; the eight-speed transmission is quick to downshift when needed. One downside, the four-cylinder engine still lacks the smoothness of a V6. Hard acceleration results in more vibrations and harsh engine notes.
A clear benefit to the new drivetrain is fuel efficiency. It is not very often an SUV of this stature can achieve fuel ratings of 10.9L/100km city, 10.0L/100km highway and a combined 10.5L/100km. Through my week of testing in mixed driving, I achieved a very impressive fuel usage of 11.8L/100km. Considering the size and aerodynamics, I expected this Jeep to achieve real world usage in the 13L/100km range.
Handling is one aspect which I was both pleasantly surprised and disappointed. Although, we all know no one buys a Jeep because of how well it handles on road, this new generation of Jeep has made significant improvements in its road manners. Jeep has worked hard to engineer the Wrangler so that it appeals to a more mainstream market, rounding off a bit of the ruggedness while keeping true to its roots. During city driving and parking lot maneuvers I found the Jeep to be excellent and dare I say, nimble.
Steering is light and response is quick, changing directions and making tight turns without feeling the weight of the Wrangler. Body motion is very well controlled even with the high center of gravity. Pushing the Jeep through a light trail, you can really sense it’s most at home off road. It rides over undulations with a smoothness I have not experienced in other SUVs. The conditions were not anywhere enough to get close to the Jeep’s limits, but you can tell the 2.72:1 Selec-Trac® 4×4 system gives complete confidence on any kind of loose or slippery surfaces.
Steering response fades as driving speed increases, developing deadness on center. Driving in a straight line becomes a chore requiring constant steering adjustments. The adjustments are amplified with fairly slow steering. My suspicion is that the aerodynamics of such a boxy design contribute to the high-speed handling observed this week. Otherwise, the Jeep drives extremely civilized. It is the most refined version of the Jeep to date.
The interior of the Jeep suits its character of an outdoor sport-utility off roader. The buttons and knobs are chunky and well placed for easy access. There is sturdiness to the way the shifters are operated. The materials of all the main touch points are very well trimmed with quality leather. Even the dash has a leather look and stitched across the top. The steering wheel is beautiful three-spoke leather wrapped wheel with brushed aluminum accents.
Sandwiched between the gauges is a bright and vibrant digital display for onboard information. Smack in the middle of the console is an 8.4” touchscreen giving you control to the Uconnect system with Navigation and SiriusXM. Uconnect is easy to uses, but the number of icons on the home screen can be a bit confusing at first. Luckily the system is designed to simulate the way your smartphone works, and the learning curve is short. If all else fails, you can fall back on trusty Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
My favourite part about the interior is not how it’s refined, but rather how it’s unrefined and raw. The interior pillars and roof line are exposed. You can see the roof bars and latches which connect the quarter panels to the body. The Jeep is equipped with Sky One-Touch power soft top which opens up the entire roof, providing owners with quick access to an immersive open top Jeep experience.
The 2019 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara starts at $46,745. Our tester came in at an as tested price of $64,165. With $17,420 worth of options, the Wrangler is loaded with features and creature comforts that make this a very usable daily vehicle. Key features added include the Uconnect 4C Nav and sound group, SafetyTec and Advanced Safety group. The most important option would be the power soft-top, which allows the entire cloth top to open up with the touch of a button.
The 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 is an excellent 4×4 that gives owners an authentic experience that the Cherokee or Grand Cherokee cannot compete with. Jeep has done an exceptional job in balancing the rugged nature of the platform, adding in all the modern comforts making this a more viable option to a greater audience. The power soft top also provides a very unique and satisfying sensation, making you feel like you are on top of the world as you drive down the road.